Research #3

Chau and Cheng. (2010). ePortfolio, Technology and Learning: a reality check. Journal of Interactive Learning Research, 21(4), 465-481.

Description: Set within a tertiary education setting, the authors of this article explore the relationship between theoretical ideals in ePortfolio use for learning and assessment and actual classroom practice, namely the adoption and effective use of ePortfolios by students. To begin, they identified four key theoretical advantages to using ePortfolios – namely their ability to enable all types of learners to succeed; as a means of learner empowerment through authorship; as a tool to extend technology use and capabilities; and finally as a way to foster online communities and networks. These four key ideas were then explored with a group of students enrolled in an English as a Second Language course at Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Results of this study indicated some inconsistencies between theory and practice a series of ‘checks’ were suggested, linked to each of the four key theoretical ideas. In addition, recommendations were made for future ePortfolio implementation in educational settings.
Evaluation: This research-based article is useful for my own investigation into ePortfolios as it takes a real-world, honest view and does not attempt to hide the mismatch between theory and practice. This is important for me to consider as any technological innovation is bound to encounter issues and if some of these can be acknowledged and planned for in advance it will likely help to smooth the path of diffusion. Particularly useful are the links drawn between student authorship and a sociocultural approach to learning as well as comments focused around what students did and did not like about the ePortfolios. These comments all tied in to the Perceived Ease of Use (PEOU) element outlined in the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) and as such reinforced my thinking that TAM is an important change model for me to consider as both PEOU and Perceived Usefulness at a student level will be instrumental in the overall effectiveness of the innovation I propose.

Note to self when writing essay – the focus is not on why ePortfolios should be used in schools (already being done and done well!) but on why they should be used as the key assessment tool.

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