Our proposal for a presentation on “Extending the Functionality of the VLE: Engaging Students with E-Portfolios and New Learning Approaches” has been accepted and we will be presenting at Online Educa in Dec! We are pleased that we will be disseminating our work internationally – somehting that the Steering Group were very keen for us to do. Here is the abstract:
The University of Reading has been promoting the use of e-learning and more particularly e-portfolios in the last four years. One of our main objectives is to put the student at the centre of learning by providing them with support and an infrastructure that will allow them to excel.

E-portfolios are seen as a way of collecting evidence of student achievement and subsequently promoting the reflection thereof for personal and professional development. The work over the last four years has revealed that our students needed guidance within and around the Blackboard Learn e-portfolio tool to truly exploit its potential.

One of the aims of the JISC-funded DEVELOP Project ( has been to build upon and enhance the Blackboard e-portfolio tool by providing students with readymade structures and templates, that make it easy and friendly to use, easing the delivery of tutor – to – student feedback, and enabling students to download their work within the e-portfolio in a more standard-compliant format.

A similar structural approach has been taken within the DEVELOP project with Blackboard Learn courses, to allow students to navigate to learning resources and content particular to their interest thereby allowing more student – centred approach to learning. This tool enables tutors to tag content as or after they add it to their course encouraging student discovery through the subsequently more flexible navigation of the Blackboard Learn course site.

The project has been working closely with academic staff to develop a number of widgets that will provide the enhancements using a rapid prototyping approach. A formal pilot will take place in Autumn 2011, when the widgets will be evaluated by teachers and students to produce evidence of how the Blackboard Learn extensions have performed both technically and pedagogically: have the DEVELOP widgets enhanced the use of Blackboard Learn? Have they promoted more student – centred learning?

In this presentation we will be demonstrating the widgets, the technical approaches we adopted and the evaluation of the pilots indicating successes, failures and work for further development. We will also be addressing the question for which there may be no real empirical answer: should we be guiding students through reflection in this way and how much do readymade structures and templates actually hinder what might be considering truly reflective activity?

About Maria-Christiana Papaefthimiou

My title is Enhanacement Manager (Teaching, Learning and Technlology) and I am curretnly project managing the DEVELOP project. My repsonsibilities include: 1. Management and direction of the work of a small team of Enhancement Officers (e-Learning), facilitating the development of cross-team working in CDoTL, including the effective integration of the team’s work across the University. 2. The management of the University’s Virtual Learning Environment and other e-learning tools with the aim to enhance and support the development of Teaching and Learning. 3. Work with academic Schools and academic staff, professional services staff and CDoTL team members to create an infrastructure of resources that support the development of courses through the use of Learning Technology. 4. Lead staff development and training programmes to be provided by the team or faculty/IT staff to ensure that academics are able to utilise learning technology approapriately and effectively 5. Promote the use of learning technology by planning and promoting university-wide workshops and faculty based staff development events. 6. Develop, as appropriate, university-wide participation and support for the engagement of academic staff with Technology Enhanced Learning. 7. Contribute to CDoTL’s strategic planning as a member of the CDOTL Senior Management Staff Team. 8. Identify opportunities for development and innovation, including accessing external funding sources, support the writing of bids. 9. Project management
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