Thursday, 27 March 2014

EUfolio and Teacher Collaboration

Yesterday I attended a conference at Microsoft HQ in Dublin that was focusing on piloting the use of ePortfolios in schools across Ireland and parts of Europe. The EUfolio Project is also being piloted in Spain, Austria, Slovenia, Cyprus, Lithuania and Bulgaria. The central Objectives and Outcomes of the project are outlined on the EUfolio site as:

Project objectives:
  • To deliver a systemic analysis of the current policy approaches and developments on the use of ePortfolios in education, including assessment and evaluation of students, learning planning, and professional development of teachers.
  • To design potentially scalable ePortfolio models for teaching, learning and assessment use.
  • To carry out transnational implementation pilots in different contexts and approaches.
  • To draw valuable real-world lessons for deepening the use of ICT (specifically the portfolio approach) in teaching, learning and assessment going forward.
  • To highlight the evidence for the efficacy of ePortfolio teaching and learning approaches, as well as to promote strategies of effective practice, sustainable implementation and consistent management.
Main project outcomes:
  1. EUfolio Review of existing ePortfolio Policies and Practices (Report)
  2. EUfolio Process Specification
  3. Open Source ePortfolio Platform
  4. Microsoft based ePortfolio Platform
  5. Teacher CPD Resources
  6. School Case Studies
  7. Examplar ePortfolios
  8. Trans-national peer-to-peer online network of pilot schools and teachers
  9. EUfolio Policymaker’s Manual
Yesterday's event had teachers travel from all over all Ireland. Teachers were given a choice at the outset of the pilot of using either Microsoft Sharepoint or Mahara to use as their ePortfolio operating system. We spent the morning ironing out technical issues within the project so far. It was great to hear ideas from other schools about how they are using their ePortfolios already. In the afternoon a member of the Junior Cycle for Teachers team was on hand to go through a sample lesson that could be completed and/or stored on a pupil's ePortfolio once complete. We were then asked to design a similar lesson or a lesson that would follow on from the one we just completed.

 This was the real highlight of the day. There was so much creativity and so many ideas working at a table with fellow experienced teachers.With so much free software now available online I hope we are just at the start of an explosion of teacher created resources and activities. Can we please have some Croke Park hours to use for content creation? If an English Department was given 3 hours to create digital resources how many Animoto videos could they make? Could they create an entire series of Padlets on Romeo and Juliet? Make an eBook on skills for Leaving Cert Paper 1? The technology is now there to do so much. The talented teachers are certainly there! I just think we may need some help at both school and Department level in giving us the time to really ignite this new resource revolution.