How to Use Your LMS as an Online Portfolio System

Concurrent Session 7

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Brief Abstract

Many teacher preparation programs require teacher candidates to use portfolios to document progress. Online, electronic third-party portfolio systems are now replacing traditional paper files. While this technology streamlines the process, it can be costly and problematic.  Innovative ways to use your university’s existing LMS will be discussed in this presentation.

Presenters

Dr. Melissa Brydon is Program Coordinator of the Special Ed Generalist Graduate programs and co-coordinates the Undergraduate Dual Elementary/Special Education Licensure program at Regis University. The focus of her research is UDL in classrooms and providing supports for students who experience reading and behavior problems. She has presented her published work on reading and behavior difficulties, Multi-Tiered Systems of Support, and differentiated instruction at many national conferences.

Extended Abstract

Many teacher preparation programs across the country use a portfolio system as a requirement for teacher candidates to document their progress throughout their program. Additionally, many regional and national accrediting bodies require programs to document students’ progress in order to maintain accreditation status, creating the need for data collection and storage as a means of program assessment (Baston, 2009). Online, electronic third-party portfolio systems are now taking the place of the traditional paper file systems that used to exist (Wray, 2007). While this technology often streamlines the process, it can be costly and problematic for some students (Wetzel & Strudler, 2006).

Proponents of electronic portfolios point out the advantages of using these portfolios as a way for teacher candidates to reflect on their work, showcase their growth as a teacher, and enhance technology skills (Baston, 2010; Strudler & Wetzel, 2011-12; Wetzel & Strudler, 2006). Unfortunately, the focus for most teacher preparation programs is to utilize these portfolios for program assessment and accreditation purposes. In their study of student perspectives of using electronic portfolios within their teacher preparation programs, Wetzel and Strudler (2006) found that while students reported an increase in technology efficacy, the benefits did not outweigh the negative aspects: loss of time and the cost of purchasing access to the electronic platforms required. Barrett (2004) and Willis (2009) found that most electronic portfolios are selected to meet the needs of the institution rather than those of the students. Students are required to demonstrate how they have met state and national standards by providing artifacts that are prescribed. Furthermore, Fagin, Hand, and Boyd (2003) point out that these artifacts are rubrics driven and created to meet data evaluation requirements rather than focusing on the reflective nature of what portfolios should be for candidates.

Darling-Hammond and Baratz-Snowden (2007) suggest that students should be submitting artifacts that showcase their classroom learning, providing opportunities for students to reflect on what they have learned in practice. This approach results in a more collaborative approach to portfolio review between the students, supervisors, and cooperating/mentor teachers by allowing them to select those artifacts that truly reflect candidates’ growth throughout their programs and into student teaching (Germany, Imhof, & Picard, 2009). Ma and Rada (2006) found that when teacher candidates used electronic portfolios that were more student-centered, not only was learning facilitated through reflection, but candidates also demonstrated positive attitudes toward using the electronic portfolio. Candidates also felt more stress and negativity when they were forced to use electronic portfolios that were standards based or prescribed.

Interestingly, teacher candidates were not the only individuals affected by the use of more prescribed electronic portfolio systems for licensure requirement documentation. Various other factors were identified by researchers as having negative effects (Strudler & Wetzel, 2008; Wetzel & Strudler, 2005, 2006). Factors such as program implementation were an issue, as was the amount of time required of faculty to evaluate candidate submissions and artifacts. Strudler & Wetzel (20011-12) concluded that when faculty were not satisfied with the electronic portfolio in place, students’ level of satisfaction decreased as well. Faculty did not interact with students to reflect on their learning, but rather to evaluate and ensure artifacts met appropriate standards. Faculty also felt the cost and time were not a benefit in relation to what was accomplished for student learning.

Our Story

Consistent with the aforementioned research findings, both teacher candidates and faculty experienced dissatisfaction with the status quo of our electronic portfolio. Instructors failed to evaluate student artifacts within the system, making data collection impossible for accreditation reports. Additionally, graduating teacher candidates who completed a program exit survey cited the electronic portfolio system that was required for them to use was the least satisfying aspect of their program. Many stated that it was the only thing about their program they would change due to several reasons: the technology was not user friendly, cost was too high, and the time it took to submit artifacts was too great. The first author served as the point person for students while they completed their portfolio requirements, often fielding several questions a day across four graduate and undergraduate programs. It was clear that change was needed. While also engaging in continuous course design, it became apparent that the logical choice was to use an existing online platform which the teacher candidates and faculty were familiar with using, while at the same time was easily accessible. The learning management system became an obvious choice because it contained the components required to not only house the documentation required, but also had the ability to perform diagnostics and data evaluation for accreditation. Students would also have the ability to include reflection and choice in what they could place into their portfolio for licensure. The following steps were taken to move forward in the project:

  1. Conduct a crosswalk between what was currently collected in the existing electronic portfolio system and designate the replacement within the learning management system.
  2. Examine ways data could be collected using the learning management system.
  3. Meet with an instructional design team to determine if the solutions were plausible.

 

This presentation will focus on the process implemented to create the electronic portfolio system that would take the place of the third-party for purchase system that was despised by both teacher candidates and faculty at our university. Details will be provided that will enable participants to examine the following learning objectives:

  1. How can the learning management system at your current university be utilized for maximum potential as a electronic portfolio?
  2. What are the benefits to using an electronic portfolio system to demonstrate teacher candidate growth?
  3. How can faculty and student time be minimized for maximum performance using a learning management system as an electronic portfolio?

References

Batson, T. (2010). Eportfolios, finally! Campus Technology. Retrieved August 28, 2018, from http://campustechnology.com/articles/2010/04/07/eportfolios-finally.aspx

Darling-Hamond, L., & Baratz-Snowden, J. (2007). A good teacher in every classroom: Preparing highly qualified teachers our children deserve. Educational HORIZONS, 85(2), 111-132.

Ma, X, & Rada, R. (2006). Individual effects of a Web-based accountability system in a teacher education program. Journal of Computing in Teacher Education, 22(3), 111-119.

Strudler, N., & Wetzel, K. (2005). The diffusion of portfolios in teacher education: Issues of initiation and implementation. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 37(4), 411-433.

Strudler, N., & Wetzel, K. (2008). Costs and benefits of electronic portfolios in teacher education: Faculty perspectives. Journal of Computing in Teacher Education, 24(4), 135-142

Wetzel, K., & Strudler, N. (2006). Costs and benefits of electronic portfolios in teacher education: Student voices. Journal of Computing in Teacher Edcuation, 22(3), 69-78.