This morning, I had a brief meeting with Louise Hague from the School of Law to discuss the portfolio widgets we are looking to develop. At the beginning of each academic year, Louise runs several workshops for a module called Legal Skills in which she takes the students through the process of each creating two e-portfolios.
I asked her what she thought about the three enhancements we were planning to make to the Blackboard tool.
She said the export widget could prove very useful and may motivate students to engage more with the portfolios if they see it as something they can take away and use once they graduate.
While she agreed that have a readymade structure for each portfolio would certainly seem to make it easier all round, she would still need to run the workshops to explain the purpose and the templates of each e-portfolio to the students. Time saved from having to provide technical support for the building of the e-portfolios could be beneficially spent focussing on the content.
However, the feedback widget as conceived now would probably prove the least useful development for Louise. The Legal Skills module normally sees a cohort of at least a hundred students. On average, Louise spends fifteen to twenty minutes per portfolio and leaves only general comments to encourage the students. Leaving feedback on individual items or sections could prove even more time-consuming, though might be useful for drawing attention to areas of a portfolio where there’s simply just more work needed.
There is the irony though that the students who are less engaged with their e-portfolios will be the ones who don’t check them enough to see the feedback!
One idea that Louise had would be to have an e-mail sent for every comment. This would be an extra feature for the widget but, given Louise’s experience with using the portfolios and leaving feedback, one we should definitely consider.