A meeting with our Education faculty a few days ago, led to some new and interesting information for me as I continue the role out of Mahara. Apparently NCATE, and perhaps other accrediting bodies, don’t want to see artifacts any longer; they simply want the data. So, it would seem the impetus for implementing e-portfolios would be going away, however I see this as something that will actually allow e-portfolios to become what they should’ve been in the first place: student-centered. They now can develop more freely to be a collection of a students learning and his/her reflection on that learning.
Most of the e-portfolios that schools adopted to meet accrediting requirements were difficult to use and pushed out like text books are. There was little student buy-in, and few students who wanted to use them for anything other than meeting program requirements. An e-portfolio designed to give students a place to showcase who they are, how they think, and what they can do, is an e-portfolio system that will be adopted and used.
Our role out of Mahara has been successful beyond our wildest dreams. Starting as a pilot in January, we’ve already had several departments completely adopt it, and non-academic departments are included in this: co-curricular activities and career services to name a couple. Students use has taken off too–on their own. That to me is true success and that’s what happens when you have a product that meets people’s needs. That’s how facebook, youtube, and flickr took off–they provided a service that people wanted. It’s wonderful to have an e-portfolio system like that: one that our students, faculty and staff want to use!