Everyone Seems Keen
Normally new technology or ideas in the education sector is met with much resistance and squirming. With ePortfolios though, it seems that the educational ground is fertile and ready/waiting for this implementation. I have had teachers and managers alike approaching me to ask how and when they can start using the system.
Know What You Want
The first and most important step in implementing ePortfolios at your school is to make sure you know WHY. This seems obvious, but it is a crucial set in the process of figuring out HOW you will implement the system as a whole. At our school (NBCS) we have the following primary goals:
- Student learning reflection and “Award Garden”
- Better Student-Parent-Teacher communication and work display
- Staff Professional Development
With these goals figured out it makes decisions down the road a lot easier.
Separate Installations for School Sites
Having fiddled with the use of “Institutions” in Mahara to split and re-theme the Primary and Secondary ePorfolios, I found that it was actually easier to create two whole separate installations. Some of the reasons for this have been:
- In the current version of Mahara 1.2 you cannot stop members from one institutions becoming friends and interacting with other institutions.
- You cannot configure plugins for a specific institution, which means if you want to switch off something for Primary you have to do it for the whole site.
- Single sign-on becomes messy when you have two separate Moodle sites trying to log into the one Mahara site. (Double user accounts start popping up all over the place.)
There is a little more management required for two sites but so far these have been minimal.
Lastly – Run a Pilot Test Program
Pick three enthusiastic teachers across the school in a range of areas and allow them to start a pilot program for a semester. allow this process to be fairly loose in nature. This not only engages the students and teachers, but also gives you time to iron out all the bugs and hiccups you might encounter before releasing the system across the whole school. Remember, you want the majority of teacher’s first experience with ePortfolios to be positive and not full of issues.
Our ePortfolio experience so far has been great and I hope that some of these tips will help you with yours!
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