Tag Archives: Europortfolio

Employability: developing and evidencing graduate attributes

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Roisin Cassidy
Technology Enhanced Learning Advisor
York St. John University

Day 2 of ePIC Conference, Barcelona, 8-10 June

If Day 1 was about open badges, today’s keyword was employability! Below is a recap on a few of the sessions I found most interesting.

Jisc employability skills-match and data service
Scott Wilson (CETIS) and Simon Whittemore (Jisc) kicked off the morning sessions with an introduction to a new JISC project to develop an online, dynamic employability skills-match and data service. This work is part of the Prospect to Alumnus programme launched this year, the aim of which is to help institutions to merge and make better use of distributed student information to provide a seamless digital student journey, from application to graduation and employment. The skills-match service will be an online platform to enable employers to come together to define and recognise the skills that they’re looking for, using terms familiar and appropriate to them, e.g. what do they mean by empathetic? These would be represented by open badges that students could claim and which would then be awarded on the basis of third party testimonials, evidence or possibly endorsements. So, the curricula for the badges will be set by JISC’s employer consortia partners, but students will in essence issue them to themselves and request evidence or endorsement from a referee, likely in the STAR format. Their service framework puts qualities or attitudes at the core; second to these are capabilities (customer service, leadership etc); the third level is domain-specific skills.

The drivers for the project include the HE sector’s emphasis on the employability agenda and findings from the CBI and McKinsey studies that highlight a European skills gap from education to employment. The research showed that school and college leavers’ attitudes and aptitudes are valued more highly by employers than their qualification. Scott and Simon spoke of the importance of developing T-shaped graduates whose depth of knowledge is equalled by their cross-domain skills and their ability to communicate and work in a multitude of contexts.

T shaped student

The T-Shaped Student. A visual thought bv Bryan Mathers (@BryanMMathers)(CC-BY-ND) inspired by Scott Wilson (CETIS) and Simon Whittemore’s (Jisc) presentation on a Jisc employability skills match service.

 

While the site is addressing one of the key challenges discussed a lot on Day 1 – including the employer voice in education, eportfolios and open badges – some delegates at my table were concerned about a service relying on self-endorsement. Rather than concern about mistrust and abuse of the system, discussions were around how weaker students tend to inflate, while stronger students deflate their skill level. Similarly, participants discussed research findings that female students tend to underrate themselves, so while over-claiming of badges is a risk which could be mitigated by weighing up the value of the evidence and endorsement provided by the student, it might be harder to prevent under-claiming by qualified students. Of course, this issue isn’t unique to this service but it’s an interesting one to keep in mind when considering self-issuing of badges.

Deakin University keynote: Assuring graduate capabilities
Professor Beverley Oliver, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education) at Deakin University, Australia, delivered an inspiring keynote on her work to develop and evidence graduate attributes.

Beverley Oliver from Deakin University presenting her keynote, ‘Assuring Graduate Capabilities’

Beverley Oliver from Deakin University presenting her keynote, ‘Assuring Graduate Capabilities’

Despite excited talk of disruptions and revolutions to education by MOOCs, open badges, free, online bite-sized learning etc., Beverley highlights that the grading policy in the new ‘utopia’ is still the same – it is grades-based instead of learning outcomes based. She asks if we are just digitising the broken system or could we reinvent it? When the outcome is simultaneously focused on employability, students become transactional, resulting in gaming the education system rather than learning; CVs are a mix of warranted credentials (degrees etc.), unwarranted claims (I am expert in…etc.), your three best friends (referees!) and your digital footprint.

In order to refocus student incentives from marks and credits to learning outcomes, Deakin have redesigned the curriculum around eight Graduate Learning Outcomes (GLOs): Discipline-specific knowledge, Communication, Digital literacy, Teamwork, Critical thinking, Problem-solving, Self-management, and Global citizenship. These are embedded in modules and courses at a base level but a series of University badges, called Deakin Hallmarks, offer students an opportunity to evidence outstanding achievement in each of the GLOs. The hallmarks exist alongside the degree – evidence can come from studies or beyond university life – and students can only earn each Hallmark once. Beverley stressed that the language of ‘hallmarks’ was intentional; badges are the technology, not the purpose behind them, she says, and so open badges are only discussed at Deakin in reference to how the Hallmarks are issued and stored, not as a concept. She also avoids the term ‘endorsement’, seeing it as having become devalued by the LinkedIn approach – a comment made by many throughout the conference. Beverley made a convincing argument and Deakin’s Hallmark programme is well branded and structured, but one concern I have with rebranding open badges at an institutional level is that I see their universality and transferability as part of their value. If some students aren’t speaking the same language, is there a risk of decreasing the visibility of badges generally and of limiting their likelihood of seeking out and earning badges from other providers?

Beverley also discussed the University’s Deakin Digital and Me in a Minute initiatives. Me in a Minute is a great video-creation service that empowers and facilitates students to promote their skills and experience to prospective employers via a one-minute video. The idea is that the video accompanies online applications and CVs (e.g. LinkedIn) to make the student stand out and create a good impression. An underlying purpose is to facilitate students’ self-reflection and articulation of their competencies. Finally, recognising that ‘unbundling’ of education poses a threat to the traditional university model, Deakin have taken the innovative step of creating a subsidiary company, Deakin Digital, to compete against themselves.  Deakin Digital doesn’t deliver any teaching. Rather, it issues credentials for career development on the basis of prior learning or evidence. Credentials are earned at a granular level and recipients could eventually challenge for a Masters degree if they so choose. The model links a new credentialing system to the old one and if successful, it could eventually put the University out of business. It’s early days yet, but it’s a bold investment in an alternative to traditional higher education, by a traditional higher educational institution.

One of the key messages Beverley left us with was to stop calling them ‘soft skills’! They are hard to develop, hard to assess and hard to evidence – sometimes harder than the hard skills – and our language devalues them. Understandably, we were left tripping over our words for the next couple of days!

Developing a conceptual model to guide university ePortfolio implementation
Cathy Buyarski’s (Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, IUPUI) presentation made me reflect upon the distinctive types of ePortfolios, e.g. showcase and reflective, and their varied aims. Cathy presented on the need for a conceptual model to guide a university eportfolio implementation and her experience of developing one. IUPUI students are required to produce an electronic personal development plan (ePDP) in their foundation year to be revised and updated throughout their degree, to foster goal creation and a compass for success. The team found that there needed to be a clearer explanation or model for why they were asking students and staff to buy-in to the ePDP and after an extensive literature review, the below model was created. This portfolio is intended as a holistic portfolio that deepens the students’ understanding of themselves. Developing your own education and career plans requires an increasing awareness of one’s self in relation to others; being able to set your own goals as opposed to inheriting those of your parents or authoritative figures; and developing hope, or in other words, understanding the various routes of progression to your goals. Underpinning each of these elements is reflection and building towards a greater understanding of self, meaning and purpose. Cathy points out that the end stage of the portfolio does not say graduation, in order to stress that the portfolio should embody a meaningful college experience instead.

Conceptual model for the IUPUI electronic Personal Development Plan (ePDP). Presented by Cathy Buyarski. http://iupui.mcnrc.org/ref-practice/

Conceptual model for the IUPUI electronic Personal Development Plan (ePDP). Presented by Cathy Buyarski. http://iupui.mcnrc.org/ref-practice/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Europortfolio – the European network of EPortfolio Experts and Practitioners
In the afternoon, Igor Balaban (Open University of Catalonia, Spain) provided an overview of the work of the Europortfolio network (conference sponsors). Europortfolio, the European Network of Eportfolio Experts and Practitioners, is just two years old and is made up of a consortium of interested parties including the UK Centre for Recording Achievement. Europortfolio provide a useful portal for networking and communicating about current eportfolio projects, as well as four core ‘products’ of use to anyone involved in implementing eportfolio programmes:

  •  The ePortfolio Open Badges Maturity Matrix is a working document intended to help organisations reflecting on their integration of eportfolios and/or open badges by providing a means of benchmarking against a maturity blueprint featuring five stages: Aware, Exploring, Developing, Integrating and Transformative
Europortfolio's ePortfolio Implementation Guidelines poster

Europortfolio’s ePortfolio Implementation Guidelines poster

  • The Implementation Guidelines aid implementation of ePortfolios. A set of general guidelines is supplemented by separate guidelines for implementation at class or institutional level, as well as issues for consideration by consortia. The guidelines address the exploratory, planning and designing, developing, implementing and testing and sustaining and evaluating stages.
  •  The Competency Framework, another working document, analyses different ePortfolio technologies and functionalities in relation to how they can support competency recognition. First, the document addresses the nature of competencies and difficult issues involved in defining, recognising and accrediting them. Then, it interrogates how ePortfolios and related technologies can aid in this process.
  •   And the latest project, the ePortfolio Self-Development Study Course which Lourdes Guardia (University of Zagreb, Croatia) was on hand to introduce. This self-paced MOOC of sorts comprises seven modules targeted at individuals and institutions implementing or enhancing an ePortfolio. The first iteration, which launched on 15 June, will be time-bound but the resources will remain open for reuse at any stage. There is a heavy focus on OER use, content is available in three languages (English, Spanish and Polish), and the course represents a cross-fertilisation of European projects as it’s hosted on the EMMA: European Multiple MOOC Aggregator platform (still in beta).

The network has local chapters and are always looking to expand, so if you are interested in contributing, visit the collaborations page or contact the network via their website.

Guilty or Not Guilty? The sustained importance and reach of ePortfolios is put on trial

Guilty or Not Guilty: ePortfolios on trial with Serge Ravet and Beverley Oliver.

Guilty or Not Guilty: ePortfolios on trial with Serge Ravet and Beverley Oliver.

 

We finished up the day by putting the ePortfolio on trial, with a judge, jury, prosecution and defence all in attendance! Arguments centred on such questions as “why doesn’t everyone have an ePortfolio?” and “is the ePortfolio dead?”. Serge Ravet (Europortfolio / ADPIOS, France), appearing for the prosecution, was critical of how eportfolios too often represent inauthentic learning. They usually don’t convey the authentic voice of the learner – particularly if they are graded – as students game the system and formulate the voice expected of them by the teacher. Why doesn’t everyone have one? Well, they’re difficult! They take time and only thrive under certain conditions but perhaps, as one ‘witness’ argued, we just haven’t given them enough time. It takes more than a couple of decades for an approach or technology to transform education. Or maybe we are being too insular when we should be thinking more broadly about what an ePortfolio is – is it a tool or a concept? If it’s the latter, isn’t Facebook, Twitter, our whole digital footprint a kind of ePortfolio? That certainly seems to be premise of the MyShowcase and Open Badge Passport platforms I wrote about in Day 1, where the focus is on aggregating one’s content or evidence from across the web and contextualising it to develop a showcase portfolio. I’m not sure we reached a conclusion on the charge (in fact, I’m not 100% clear on what the charge was in the end!), but questioning why we should bother with ePortfolios at all was a thought-provoking end to Day 2.

Key discussion points of the day:
– How do we get employers’ input into open badge design and development?

– Do employers value ePortfolios?

– What is an ePortfolio and are they still relevant?

– Are endorsements without evidence of any value?

 Key projects and resources from today: 

 My ePIC conference Storify: https://storify.com/Roisin_Cassidy/epic-2015-disruptive-technologies-for-transformati

Europortfolio Network: http://www.europortfolio.org/

ePortfolio Self-Development Study Course: http://platform.europeanmoocs.eu/course_eportfolio_self_development_st

Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis. 2015. Literature Review (for development of an eportfolio conceptual model): http://pdp.uc.iupui.edu/AboutePDP/LiteratureReview.aspx

The full conference programme and session details are available from the ePIC 2015 website.