ePortfolio Matters @KPU

ePortfolios are experiencing a quiet renaissance at KPU and, with this post, I hope to turn up the volume by highlighting some key milestones and a few of the many great ePortfolio initiatives that I have had the privilege to support in my role as Educational Consultant for ePortfolio Advancement in the Teaching and Learning Commons.

KPU’s ePortfolio revival was initiated by the adoption of a new enterprise ePortfolio platform, PebblePad, in 2020. Prior to that, KPU ePortfolios were supported by the Mahara platform which sustained an average of 100 courses per year. A significant number of faculty and students found Mahara to be a challenging interface and implementation of ePortfolios stagnated. With the transition of one platform to another, a reboot was needed, not only to promote the new platform, but also to put pedagogy at the forefront of implementation.

The reboot came in the form of a fun, low-stakes, professional development event, playfully dubbed the PebblePad Rollin’ Stones Tour. This event inspired more than 65 pandemic-weary faculty and staff to discover, or, in some cases, rediscover, how ePortfolios can be a high impact teaching practice when aligned with sound pedagogy and supported by easy-to-use technology.

On the student side, KPU’s Learning Centres embedded ePortfolios into their Peer Tutor Development program, utilizing PebblePad templates and workbooks to help guide potential tutors through their robust, accredited training and readying them to support students using ePortfolios. Faculty and staff in the Learning Centres have also done great work by developing Learning Aids to scaffold students through setting up an ePortfolio using PebblePad, and guide them through the process of reflection.

Both faculty and students have reported the transition to PebblePad to be an easy one, and today, there are over 2300 active PebblePad users. With more and more Faculties at KPU looking to enhance learning experiences for students by embedding ePortfolios into their programs, that number is sure to grow. Two such Faculties are Academic and Career Preparation ACP) and the Wilson School of Design (WSD).

Recognizing the power of ePortfolios to engage and support diverse learners through learner agency, reflective practice and digital skills, the Employment and Community Studies program (EACS) in ACP has embedded ePortfolios and folio thinking into their revised their curriculum. Moreover, the EACS program has just received an Irving K. Barber for Educational Opportunities grant to fund the Reducing Barriers for Student with Diverse Learning Needs project. The primary goal of this project is to develop an inclusive Digital Student Learning Community (DSLC) for all KPU students using ePortfolios, but led by Adult Special Education learners in the EACS program. 

Cognizant that ePortfolios have become industry standard in the field of Design and that graduates of their programs will require the skills to represent their work digitally to gain employment, members from the WSD partnered with members of the Teaching and Learning Commons (myself included) in a bid to join the  AAC&U 2022 Institute on ePortfolios. Successful in their application, the WSD and the Commons are working together with the guidance of the experts at the Institute to implement ePortfolios across WSD programs. Not only will this project arm WSD students with the tools they need to secure employment, but the ability to reflect upon and articulate their learning. In addition, it will assist the WSD in meeting program accreditation requirements and revised curriculum goals. The team is eager to share their progress and their learning to grow and support ePortfolio implementation elsewhere in the KPU community.

These are just some of the ePortfolio initiatives I am privy to in the KPU community, but with over 2300 active users, I know there must be more out there. To continue celebrate this great work, share resources, professional development opportunities and more, I am curating a WordPress site, ePortfolio Matters @KPU.

So please, join the revival and share what you are doing, and this quiet renaissance will continue to grow louder.

Gillian Sudlow
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Gillian has been supporting learners in their journey to develop their skills and obtain their educational goals for over twenty years. She is a fierce advocate for open access to education and her scholarly interests include competency-based assessment, micro-credentials and open pedagogy. She is excited to work with the inspiring and dedicated team in KPUs Teaching and Learning Commons and is looking forward to supporting faculty with consultations on instructional design and assessment, particularly in blended and online formats.

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