Such a week!

Feeling thrilled and a bit guilty at the end of it! I confess to enjoying this Mooc so much I can’t find time for other matters: my husband started referring to himself as ‘a Mooc widower’ and my cat is thinking of alerting the RSPCA!

Developing an ePortfolio culture inside my institution being my major project for 2011, I didn’t hesitate for a second when I heard about the epCop Mooc and hopped onboard with a vengeance!

The ePortfolio concept wasn’t very popular in France when I started researching the topic two years ago, but things are changing rapidly and there is now a significant number of institutions: universities, schools, Regions, professional bodies… who implement ePortfolios. The National Education also started a pilot last year, the results of which will be presented to the Senate in 2012. In fact, things have changed so radically that I guess the average learner will soon be confronted with difficult choices. A colleague of mine even compared the situation with the offers from the credit cards companies, each one trying to sell you its own! And of course each institution has its own approach and its particular needs (even when they claim that their system is user-centered).

There is also, I realized, a growing interest from the marketing departments of those organizations (no university or training organization can do without them nowadays). They view the ePortfolio as the perfect tool to keep the users as customers who would be encouraged to return to them for any further studies. Not that there is anything wrong with doing business, of course. But the question is how do we reconcile these approaches and purposes? Does the solution lie in the use of a variety of tools? I tend to think so, but I hear many people say that it’s a hassle to have to use so many different tools, portals… But then again, you could make them work seamlessly so that the user experience is a friendly one (Hello IT people?).

If my institution goes for the ePortfolio project, it would potentially involve 180,000 ePortfolio users per year, not to mention approximately 10,000 staff. We’re not there yet, of course: we follow the adage ‘Start small, think big’. We are about to start experimenting in different contexts:

  • With newly hired trainers: they are professionals who follow a tailor-made course on teaching and they will use the ePortfolio to reflect on their journey, but also to present evidence of their progress to their tutors. In this particular instance, we will use the Google tools (Google sites, documents, etc).
  • There is also another pilot about to start this September, where we’ll introduce the ePortfolio to several groups of trainees. The participants will be volunteers from different courses: Personal Service Occupations (childcare), Logistics (warehouse and forklift operators). We will also include young people doing an ‘orientation course’ (not too sure of the English, here) where they get guidance and support to explore the options available to them, be it training, further education or employment. This particular pilot will be run with the help of two Regions who will provide their own ePortfolio systems (ie Elgg for one and  custom-made proprietary software for the other). The ePortfolio will be used for transition and progression, but also for RPL (the certification authority has its own paper-based portfolio though, but the ePortfolio will certainly help trainees building that one).
  • Lastly, but this one is still in its infancy, HR has shown some interest in the ePortfolio to scaffold the post-contract situation of 70 people doing apprenticeship with us as salespeople. The main purpose of the ePortfolio in this case will probably be to provide evidence in support of an application for a job.
Having said that, my expectations for this course are to get insights from other practitioners, from all walks of life and to be able to build a solid case for my own projects. I would particularly like to hear about large-scale implementations, especially in the context of vocational training. Not only am I interested in best practice, I would also be keen to hear horror stories about ePortfolio implementations (learning from your mistakes, or better still from the mistakes of others)!

As for my own ePortfolio, I will of course use it to reflect on my travels (travails? –only joking!) in ePortfolio territory.

The measure of my success at the end of the MOOC will be to have produced a convincing report for senior management, in the hope to get from small-scale pilots to embedding the ePortfolio culture in the institution (alright, this is too big an objective, I agree, I should think of chunking it down a bit!) ;-)

PS: One of my associates, Capt. Janette Poirot (of Belgian descent), is part of the Commando Elite Corps that investigates the epCop Case, led by Det. Ryan Peterovski with the help of Special Agent Penpln, commissioned by Coach Carole. The team has already gathered some evidence all over the world. Check them on the Evidence Location Map! ;-)
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First Challenges

For the grand opening, I decided to start the Challenges by creating a Screenr. I have used the site a lot as a visitor, but I had never myself created a screencast with Screenr. My favourite screencasters are, among others:

I have some experience with screencasting, though. I use Screenflow on my Mac and Camtasia Studio on my PC and I like both.

I took this opportunity to re-read a post by Tom Kuhlmann: “How to Create Screencasts You Can Be Proud Of” where he gives great tips, as always. There’s a funny screencast at the end of the post, with all the “don’ts”, followed by the makeover.

I was a little surprised at first when I realized I couldn’t zoom in or out and at one point, the part of the screen I wanted to show was out of my frame. But there are workarounds: I eventually understood that I could move the frame and I used profusely the pause button (as Tom suggests in his post). I wanted my screencast to be very short, but it still lasts a good 4 minutes. The beauty of Screenr is that you don’t need to have software installed on your machine. It’s all on the web. You can also embed your screencasts very easily on a site*, and the upload to youtube is just a click away!

I intend to create a little series about mahara for an upcoming project. I’m not sure my fellow MOOCers will be very much interested since they’re in French (BTW, am I the only French speaker on this MOOC, I wonder?).

Next thing I’ll do is following in Pauline footsteps and try my hand at podomatic.

Ironically enough, I haven’t been able to embed it on this post!  :-((

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Do you MOOC?

I have just embarked on the epCop MOOC (ePortfolio Community of Practice Massive Open Online Course) and I like it! I started this blog to reflect on my MOOC travels.

I’m starting to get my bearings around the wealth of resources this MOOC offers! Indeed, I find it very well structured and learner friendly :-) Kudos to the design team!

Like many other participants, I’m afraid I won’t have enough time to absorb it all, but I’ll do my best ! I published some information about myself on the foliofor.me site. I used this site to play around with the new functionalities of mahara 1.4. I built my cat’s portfolio, trying to use most of the new features. I also built a profile page there (there’s an English and a French version for both pages).

I attended the ePic11 conference in London recently and had the pleasure to meet great people. I was most honored when Dr Helen Barrett accepted to pose with me!

I still have to organize my conference notes and share them!

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