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Swimming with the Tide: Introducing open digital technologies into the preparation of student-teachers’ portfolio at a selected junior college in Belize.

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Conference Presentation Abstract

Swimming with the Tide: Introducing open digital technologies into the preparation of student-teachers’ portfolio at a selected junior college in Belize.


Karen Martinez, OU Student

Internship course assessment in Belize needs an upgrade to meet the 21st century demands for digital skills. Apart from this, there has been a gradual change in student-teacher demography; more pre-service teachers entering the profession. Though trends in teacher education are showing that e-portfolios have been adopted as replacement for paper portfolios since the mid-1990s (McCowan et. al., 2005), the Teacher Education Development Services unit of the Ministry of Education and the Teacher Education Institutions in Belize still rely on the use of paper-based artefacts, like the paper portfolio, to determine students’ level of development and readiness to receive initial certification to enter the teaching profession. The paper portfolio has been focused primarily on four areas: an introduction, planning instruction and assessment, learning environment, and weekly reflections (Internship Handbook, 2019). The portfolio’s wider potential, for example, to aid employability and promotion of life-long learning has never been investigated.

Findings from study on e-portfolio have indicated wider benefits including more portability, possibility for increased motivation, the promotion of deep learning, ongoing reflection, and increase in digital skills (Barrett, 2004; Wieseman, 2005;  Meyer and Latham, 2008). The use of an open source e-portfolio will increase the potential for this innovative practice to be phased into Belizean teacher education since it decreases the financial barrier in technological uptake. The wider plan is to translate this practice into a national education and technology policy.

This presentation will demonstrate how to introduce open digital technologies into the preparation of the students’ portfolio at a selected junior college in Belize where paper portfolio creation is already a major part of course assessment. The introduction of the electronic portfolio (e-portfolio) project, being an innovative practice for teacher education, will pose as a catalyst for changing practice. Its introduction will be a single location installation in a multimedia demonstration format to education department students and faculty. Mahara, a web-based open source e-portfolio, will be integrated into the institutional Moodle platform to minimize the inconvenience of logging into different platforms. Moodle will maintain the structure and organization needed by the institution while Mahara will provide the personal workspace and flexibility students will need to share, create and collaborate across networking tools. The author will use an explainer video to demonstrate the entry of the innovation into practice, highlight expectations, provide clear directions, and model proper interactions and negotiations among key players.

Since students are coming into the profession with limited clinical experiences, an assessment type that fosters motivation and enhances digital skills can aid to boost student interest and commitment. By extension, student employability may increase due to access to information on dispositions and professional growth. Factors that have potential to limit the success of the innovation include students’ perceptions on benefits, faculty’s interests to adopt the new practice, and possible second order effects of the introduction of technology.   


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For more information about the conference click here. 

 References

Barrett, H. (2003) ‘Researching the process and outcomes of electronic portfolio development in a teacher education program’, In Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference. Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education, pp. 15-18.

McCowan, C., Harper, W. and Hauville, K. (2005) ‘Student e-portfolio: The successful implementation of an e-portfolio across a major Australian university’, Australian Journal of Career Development, vol 14, no 2, pp.40-51.

Meyer, B. and Latham, N. (2008) ‘Implementing electronic portfolios: Benefits, challenges, and suggestions’, Educause Quarterly, vol 31, no. 1, p. 34.

Wieseman, K. (2005) ‘Preservice Teachers Creating Electronic Portfolios’, In Encyclopedia of Distance Learning, IGI Glob

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Picture of Simon Ball

Conference Questions

Hi Karen

Here are the questions and comments from your conference presentation - please respond in whatever way you wish!

Best wishes
Simon

  • i understand mahara and moodle fit together well? oh, perhaps not! I suppose it depends how the Moodle platform is set up, it might have some bespoke elements which don't work so well with mahara

  • are teachers accustomed to building paper portfolios? how do these issues change when using e-portfolios?

  • My company tried to merge Moodle and Mahara - to creat a Mahoodle. Not easy especially if you want single sign on

  • What proportion of the cohort was 9 / 8 students?

  • good to see that your stakeholders want this to happen

  • consensus building definitely important! and/or maybe allow yourself to be student-led?

  • Is there a local organization using Mahara you can connect with? Or are you out on your own?

  • what technologies do the students already use?

  • Where do you think the mistrust comes from?

  • i guess in the face of vague mistrust or doubt, having evidence of successful practice is valuable for getting buy-in

  • Do you think the mistrust could be related to the educators own lack of expeience with the tool as it is a new concept for your country

  • Is this a top down approach?  

Picture of Karen Martinez

Response to comments

Hello Everyone,

Thanks for attending my presentation. This truly was a wonderful experience. Kindly see my responses to your questions below.

Karen

·         i understand mahara and moodle fit together well? oh, perhaps not! I suppose it depends how the Moodle platform is set up, it might have some bespoke elements which don't work so well with mahara

From my research and information I received from persons who have done so, it is doable. In reality though, for persons to whom this idea is new, there seemed to be a bit of struggle. For example, my technical persons have noted that this is not as easy as it seemed. It required some changes to the version of Mahara to make it compatible with Moodle. They are still trying to figure this out.

·         are teachers accustomed to building paper portfolios? how do these issues change when using e-portfolios?

Yes, the teachers have been building paper portfolio since the beginning of the program at the institution. 

They still will be required to do so with e-portfolio as these are program requirements. The added benefit in using e-portfolio will be their ability to take more ownership and add their own creativity into doing so. They will be able to share their work and receive more timely feedback from their supervisors even outside of the formal six mandatory supervisory visits. Plus, while meeting program requirement, they will also be developing technological skills that they can later use in teaching their students.

·         My company tried to merge Moodle and Mahara - to creat a Mahoodle. Not easy especially if you want single sign on

This is what my technicians found out. They had managed to have me use the Mahara – accessed through our website. The issue was when they were trying to make the access a single sign in through the Moodle platform.

·         What proportion of the cohort was 9 / 8 students?

The 9 was out of 16. The 8 was out of 15.

·         good to see that your stakeholders want this to happen

Thanks.

I think that we all have realized the need for more innovations in higher education in my country. The main problem for us is lack of capacity in some areas and lack ok understanding of the processes. 

When someone is willing to try new things, they usually get a lot of encouragement. The support sometimes does not come the way we would like (again, due to capacity and understanding issues).

·         consensus building definitely important! and/or maybe allow yourself to be student-led?

I favor the idea of being student-led. Hence the reason for considering demonstration as the way to introduce the innovation instead of the usual teacher-led style of going directly into a training or workshop session. I plan to follow the students’ lead (hear from them) after they have seen the demonstration and move on from there.

·         Is there a local organization using Mahara you can connect with? Or are you out on your own?

A few local institutions (more individuals within the institutions) have indicated they use e-portfolio tools. One person did say he has used Mahara before. None have been able to provide valuable assistance.

I can say, I am on my own to a large extend. An administrator at another school is also taking on the challenge after I shared my vision with her. Our technical personnel are still tinkering with the platform to see what can be done for easy access.

·         what technologies do the students already use?

The education students at my institutions, based on program requirements at this point, are using Microsoft tools to create their work. They print these and secure them in three ring binders.

·         Where do you think the mistrust comes from?

The mistrust comes from a lack of understanding of how technology works.

·         i guess in the face of vague mistrust or doubt, having evidence of successful practice is valuable for getting buy-in

Yes indeed. Hence, the choice to start with demonstration. That is, for them to see the e-portfolio being used in real life.

It will be impossible to draw on local examples at this point since we cannot locate a formal institutional uptake. So, having students at my institution (and my colleague) pilot the use, and us taking note of what works and what needed to be improved, will enable us to gather evidence of successful practice which we can share later.

·         Do you think the mistrust could be related to the educators’ own lack of experience with the tool as it is a new concept for your country?

It surely is linked to lack of experience, which also gives rise to the other issue educators battle with – the fair of failure or to be seen as not knowing.

·         Is this a top down approach?

No. Although I am an administrator, I work very closely with the education department (the smallest department on campus). We regularly meet to discuss how we can improve teacher education at our institution.

We have great relationships with our students. We listen to them. Their concerns along with those of the host institutions are what we continue to use to seek reform in teacher training in our district. We continue to negotiate with the TEDS unit of the Ministry of Education to make a change to the internship practices. The present handbook was designed to be used for in-service teachers.