Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The ePortfolio myth

Had a bit of a thought today about ePortfolios.  Yes, I know... not many people have terribly many thoughts about ePortfolios they're probably doing something else more interesting instead, me, however... I think about this stuff.  :o)

So... anyway... my thought.  It concerns the oft touted phrase you hear in, oh, probably the second breath after the word ePortfolio and that is 'supporting lifelong learning'.  Everyone's at it, from manufacturers of ePortfolios to bodies such as JISC.  I wondered to myself what do we really mean by that?  Lifelong?  Seriously???  ePortfolios have been around for a blink of an eye in educational terms and yet... suddenly... they support or even better, they 'harness' lifelong learning.  How can anyone make such grandiose claims?

I'm reminded a little of the BBC Doomsday Project which took place when I was a child in the 80s.  There we were, writing about our local areas... storing photographs and other snippets to make our mark in history.  It really was touted as a Doomsday Book Mark II from what I remember (I was one of the schoolchildren who participated in what was probably an early instance of wiki-esque generation of content!)... and yet... where is it now?  Lost to incompatibility and data preservation issues.  Published less than 25 years ago - hardly the average lifespan - and yet, gone.  Whizz forward a quarter of a century and here we are again spouting about 'supporting lifelong learning' with a technology which is unproven and lacks the basic interoperability standards to help it move towards any kind of sustainability.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury.  I put it to you that ePortfolio is being over-promoted off the back of an unsupportable claim, that of 'harnessing lifelong learning'.  Furthermore, I pronounce it 'guilty' as charged.

PS  I really don't care whatever it was I wrote for the Doomsday project back in 1984/85 - so, like old family photos, I'll leave leafing through my ancient bits of childhood work for dewy eyed relatives and continue moving forwards with an underpinning of experience, qualifications and confidence which doesn't need a 'lifelong' record of stuff to support.

PPS  You didn't see me say this... right?  ;o)

PPPS  I have a whole other theory about the currency of learning and the expiry date of 'evidence'.  But I'll save that ranty waffle for another day.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Prezi for Educators

Now, I haven't quite made up my mind about Prezi.  I've seen some really interesting presentations, but I've also seen a lot of seasickness-inducing efforts and since the latter outweighs the former, I've been struggling to get a sense of what I could do with it.

However... if you are interested in having more of a go with Prezi and you're a student or teacher... then have a look at the free Student / Teacher license upgrade option.  All the stuff you can do with the free account, but an additional ability to make your Prezis private... remove the Prezi watermark... and get an additional 400MB of storage - all of which would normally cost you $59 / year.  Gotta be worth an extra look, for that, I reckon!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Let the bad times roll: Job losses bite into HE

One word for this story...


Read more below:
Thousands to lose jobs as universities prepare to cope with cuts | Education | The Guardian: "Universities across the country are preparing to axe thousands of teaching jobs, close campuses and ditch courses to cope with government funding cuts, the Guardian has learned.

Other plans include using post-graduates rather than professors for teaching and the delay of major building projects. The proposals have already provoked ballots for industrial action at a number of universities in the past week raising fears of strike action which could severely disrupt lectures and examinations.

The Guardian spoke to vice-chancellors and other senior staff at 25 universities, some of whom condemned the funding squeeze as 'painful' and 'insidious'. They warned that UK universities were being pushed towards becoming US-style, quasi-privatised institutions.

The cuts are being put in place to cope with the announcement last week by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce) that £449m – equivalent to more than a 5% reduction nationally – would be stripped out of university budgets.

The University and College Union (UCU) believes that more than 15,000 posts – the majority academic – could disappear in the next few years. Precise funding figures for each university will be released on 18 March."

Difficult times ahead. Could wax lyrical about this being an opportunity for efficiency savings, OER being mainstreamed into education, working smarter not harder, innovating our way out of a restrictive financial climate, opportunities for change etc. But... doesn't the above just suck? Bankers and governments get us into a financial nightmare... and Higher Education gets to pay a significant price as a result.

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