Sunday, January 25, 2009

ePortfolios are not just for Christmas... they're not even for that...

screenshot taken from the Open University's student home page

Screenshot taken from the OU's Student Home Page. Apparently computing are informing tutors that the link to MyStuff, the OU's ePortfolio, has been disabled due to users exceeding storage limits.

Ermmm... what?

Universities want students to use ePortfolios. They want to encourage the creation of a reflective record of a lifelong learning journey. Apart from the fact that it doesn't quite tally with the reality of providing that lifelong space. Not even in the short term (MyStuff has been around for less than three years)! This ties in beautifully with an article written by Leigh Blackall on his Learn Online blog which I read last week. Off-the-shelf products or even bespoke ePortfolio systems design behind the times. They cannot forecast how learners will really *want* to use their product or whether they actually will use it at all. And, heaven forbid a student should actually want to use it and really use it in the way which was hoped for... then they get clobbered for using too much disc space!

The educational dream of deep reflective learning does not match the IS reality of providing all that storage space and maintaining access to it over years. Leigh makes the following observation about it:

"The incredible ability of the education sector to separate itself from reality is just incredible. I guess we have to accept that it has been common practice in education for a long time. Rather than teach in the real world we taught in the classroom, and with rules and regulations to sustain that very system."
Halcyon dreams vs. sytems-centric reality. *sigh*
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