Friday, August 02, 2013

Portfolios in Training and Development E-Learning

Portfolios can be extremely effective in training and professional development, and are quite easy to implement in asynchronous e-learning, especially when access is limited, and it’s necessary to show the progress of one’s learning or skill-building over time.  Learning management systems such as the open-source Moodle can accommodate both asynchronous and synchronous (“live”) learning and are ideal for both individual and collaborative portfolios.

Portfolios can be used to show individual progress, which can be very motivating because it utilizes cognitive scaffolding and employs a building block approach.

Individual portfolios can also demonstrate how an individual achieves learning objectives, and helps target where performance is optimal, and where it can be improved.
            Incremental changes / modifications
            Reflective knowledge
            Critical thinking skills

Collaborative portfolios are very effective for the following:
            Sharing ideas
            Knowledge transfer
            Skill building
            Critical thinking skills
            SWOT analyses
            Strategic planning

Simple Solution
In the simplest form, an organization can put together a link to a Sharepoint or Document Exchange portal where individuals can log in and share their files with each other, and then comment.  A simple solution would also be to incorporate Google Drive, and to use Google Docs for portfolios.

LMS Solutions
It’s very easy to utilize elements with typical learning management systems.

Moodle offers a wide array of modules and, as it is open source, it offers a number of advantages with respect to adding modules and features. There are a number of low-cost hosting solutions.

Portfolio module. For example, Moodle 2.5  accommodates portfolios in a number of ways. Once the site administrator has enabled portfolios, the user can export a cluster of files into a portfolio that automatically saves into a file archive or Google Docs / GoogleDrive.

Workshop Module. Or, alternatively, you can use the Workshop module to develop spaces where a wide variety of files and activities can be housed and shared.
Forum Module. Another approach could be to use a Forum module to create a discussion board, and allow learners to post their activities that they will then pull together into a portfolio. In a final “display”, the learner can post the documents that constitute the portfolio.

Certificate Module. A nice feature of Moodle is that you can also use the Certificate module to generate a certificate once the portfolio has been completed, and the requirements for successful completion have been satisfied.

For more directions, ideas, check out Moodle for Training and Professional Development just released by Packt Publishing.  

Blackboard offers a number of ways to develop and display portfolios.

Discussion.  The first, and perhaps most inclusive and encouraging of group interaction is the Discussion Board. Keep in mind that Discussion Boards can be open to the entire class, or can consist of subsets and groups within the course.

Collaboration. In addition to having the public display and interaction via the Discussion Board, it’s also possible to set up small collaboration groups using the Collaboration tool.

Journal. In addition, for individual portfolios, the Journals tool can be employed, and a student can create a set of journals. While most people associate Blackboard with higher education elearning, Blackboard has prepackaged solutions for small to medium businesses (under 200 users) and associations. In fact, Blackboard’s ProSites “lite” LMS could be ideal for small-scale use of portfolios for specific association programs.

Desire2Learn (D2L)
Desire2Learn (D2L) has similar capabilities, but one may have to be a bit more creative. For example, it does not have a Portfolio tool, as does Moodle.

However, it’s possible to create a Dropbox that acts as a repository for the different drafts. Because many files can be uploaded to the same Dropbox, it’s easy to manage. The Dropbox can then be associated with Grades (the gradebook).  Rubrics can be associated with Grades, which makes it simple to evaluate different aspects of the portfolio.

In D2L, Rubrics have both Properties and Levels and Criteria. (I’m capitalizing these items because they are categories of tools found in D2L and are accessed through the tab marked “Edit Course.” Of course, Discussions (the discussion board) allows display and peer review of items in the portfolio.  It is easy to set up Groups and Sections for collaborative activities.

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