Roundtable Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia 2015

Using ePortfolios in preparing graduates for a changing world: How can we improve practice? (#182)

Christine Slade 1
  1. The University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore DC, QLD, Australia

Abstract Content (up to 300 words recommended)

Higher education institutions charged with preparing graduates to be responsive and adaptable in a changing and complex world turn to technological systems, such as an ePortfolio, to record and evaluate individualised academic, professional and personal student learning over their academic studies and beyond. The University of the Sunshine Coast is currently in a two year university-wide ePortfolio implementation of ePortfolios (2014-2015) after a feasibility study in late 2012 and an early adopter phase in 2013. EPortfolio advocates see the benefit in this technology as an online repository for evidence for enhanced employability and accreditation. The pedagogical value of ePortfolios includes reflective practice, assessment and feedback opportunities, evidence of experiential and work-integrated learning and graduate attributes. Yet challenges include understanding the realistic scope of ePortfolios to meet this mandate; institutional resources in a time of constraint; industry lag in valuing such technology for recruitment and continuing professional development; and the lack of research about long term benefits.  Further, staff and students are time poor and can lack the skills required for a smooth uptake. This round table provides opportunity for institutional decision makers and program/course level educators to openly discuss their experience of current ePortfolio use and perceptions of future trends within a small peer group context.

Suggested questions for discussion:

  1. Within your institutional context, in what ways are ePortfolios facilitating the readiness of graduates to take their place in a changing and complex professional world?

  2. Are there any general areas of concern with ePortfolio use that you can see and in what ways could they be addressed?

  3. Looking into the future, do we have the balance right between using technology and other pedagogical and assessment strategies for developing profession-ready graduates?

Addressing the theme/s of the Conference (up to 200 words recommended)

Contemporary university graduates face change and complexity in their workplaces driven by globalisation, technological advances and shifting institutional structures and procedures (Savage et al. 2010). Consequently, tertiary educators extend students’ discipline knowledge to include additional work-focused knowledge, skills and attributes so they can confront and manage these changes (Budge 2009). At the same time, students need to self-regulate their learning through personal reflection to be able to participate in lifelong learning opportunities (Kottilil 2009). In a number of universities providing the means to facilitate and evaluate such individualised and transformative learning over time includes embedding ePortfolios across curriculum. Perceived professional benefits in using this online repository for storing evidence of learning and personal development include enhanced employability opportunities and continuing accreditation requirements. Pedagogical value centres on reflective practice, assessment and feedback opportunities and evidence of graduate capabilities.  There are, however, challenges in embracing and using this technology with tertiary institutions sitting at different levels of involvement and length of experience. Research examining the long-term outcomes of using ePortfolios in Australia is scant. This round table provides opportunity for institutional decision makers and program/course level educators to openly discuss their perceptions of their current ePortfolio use within a small peer group context.

  1. Budge, T. 2009. “Education planners, educating for planning or planning for education: The never ending story.” Australian Planner 46 (1): 8-13.
  2. Kottilil, N. 2009. Meaning Making and Self Evaluation, Education Resources Information Centre (ERIC), ED504124.
  3. Savage, S., R. Davis, and E. Miller. 2010. Professional Education in Built Environment & Design. Final Report prepared for the Australian Learning & Teaching Council (ALTC), Sydney.