Following the DEVELOP Project Lunch the previous Friday, I went to meet Louise Hague over in the School of Law to discuss how to take the piloting of the e-portfolio widgets forward. I met with her back in December to see which widgets she would be most interested in and so our conversation picked up from what we had discussed then too.
The e-Portfolio Templates widget will be the most fundamentally useful to Louise, as it will make the workshops at the beginning of term much easier and allow the students to concentrate on the content of each portfolio page rather than expending time and effort on the almost purely technical aspects of getting their portfolios set up.
As with previous years, Louise has actually already allocated an hour and a half for each workshop with the students but we agreed that the time gained through using the widget could instead allow for an ad hoc evaluation of it.
Since the meeting, Louise has provided me with the instructions that are given to students to assist them in creating their e-portfolios. This will form the basis of the customisation work we do with the widget and gives us an actual working model to test with.
The document she sent me is here. [I wanted to embed this in the post rather than link out to it but due to some odd restrictions on our WordPress server here, I wasn’t able to display it. I’m looking into getting these settings changed.]
The workshops might also allow for an opportunity for the students to try out the e-Portfolio Export widget, and reinforce the idea that the downloaded copy of any e-portfolio is a frozen copy of what is live on Blackboard that can be taken at any time. That this can be loaded into other areas would also be a good thing to demonstrate.
The e-Portfolio Feedback widget seems the least applicable to this module, simply because it isn’t scalable to provide this level of feedback to this number of students. The generic comments facility that Blackboard provides actually works in this case and the feedback widget, therefore, is one that it’s unlikely Louise will want to try out. One concern that Louise has, which the scope of our project for this widget doesn’t address, is that the students who most urgently need to revisit and update their e-portfolio are also the least likely to see and read the comments she leaves. A facility that enables Louise to e-mail from the portfolio when she leaves a comment might get around this, and is something we can perhaps look at as we continue to develop.
Louise was kind enough, however, to provide the names of some others within the School of Law, to whom the feedback widget might prove more useful. I shall get in touch with these in due course and blog as appropriate. I plan to meet with Louise after the upgrade of our Blackboard service in early July to plan further. In the meantime, I shall be looking into customising the templates widget.