The MBA programme at the Henley Business School requires that students do a series of PD (Personal Development) assignments. The assignments ask that students reflect on their personal development experience, on the assignments they have to complete elsewhere in the course, and on turning points in their careers.
The subject area leader for Personal Development has been considering a few tools that might aid students in the processes necessary for these assignments, including blogs and online journals. With the Business School’s upcoming adoption of Blackboard as its VLE, it was suggested that the subject area leader consider Blackboard’s e-portfolio tool as an option for use by students in the PD assignments.
The e-Portfolio Templates widget was piloted in order to ascertain whether it was both appropriate and appealing enough for use in the MBA programme and, by implication, whether having a pre-defined structure for the assignment helped in the reflective process. Five volunteer students were asked to set up an e-portfolio using the widget as if they were taking the first PD assignment again and then asked for feedback on the tool. If the feedback proved positive enough, the templates widget would be considered as an option alongside other tools for embedding within the MBA programme, though adjustments might be necessary.
Piloting confirmed that the e-Portfolio Templates widget should be considered further. Despite the small sample size, the responses varied significantly. Of four respondents, one was positive about the tool, one receptive to though critical of it, and the other two very critical. Positive or negative, some of the detail in the comments seemed focused on Blackboard more generally. The piloting of the tool was an achievement in the sense that it demonstrated use of the widget in a different context to previous pilots, with bespoke features (e.g., a ‘Create PD Portfolio’ button which automated more steps than previous instances). It also raised questions as to the purpose of using the tool within the context of this particular module and identified a broader need for technology that encourages reflection in an appealing way.