An engaged pedagogy: a workshop to introduce ePortfolios to faculty

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Summary

In this faculty development activity, we demonstrated how our ePortfolio platform could assist with curriculum redesign, assessment, community learning, and reflections. This practice occurred in a time already set aside for faculty development. The participants came from two institutions and from a variety of departments; all of them teach in the Metro program and participate in a faculty learning community.

Author

Director of Metro Faculty Development and the Metro Curriculum Team
Paulo Freire Quote

Description

Overview and Setting

We hosted a workshop for faculty on the purpose of ePortfolios and how they can integrate ePortfolios into their courses. This workshop was embedded into existing time when faculty get together and were talking about curriculum and student learning outcomes, so it was a natural fit. To help the faculty get a strong understanding of ePortfolios, we showed them examples of other student ePortfolios on campus and a short video about ePortfolios.

Our faculty community gets together several times a year. Each workshop has a different topic. We have been doing this for several years.

This professional development training was a cross campus workshop that included  faculty members from both City College and San Francisco State. Also present were faculty members who are part of our Metro campus ePortfolio team.

For this professional development activity we had the following objectives:

By the end of the session, faculty will be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the ePortfolio as a platform for student work
  • Link ePortfolio usage to curriculum redesign and assessment strategies
  • Describe the purpose of using ePortfolios as part of authentic assessment in Metro
  • Develop community among Metro instructors
  • Reflect on our own practice as educators and our philosophy on social justice education in the classroom

 
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Step-by-Step

Framework

Please see the attached faculty meeting agenda for details that discuss specifically how we envisioned this information in the workshop.

Participants and Seminar Leadership

The participants in the PD activity were about 16. At a regular FLC meeting we have anywhere from 15-30 people participating. They cross departments such as ethnic studies, math, English, child development, health education and communications. They are mostly part-time faculty, with a few full-timers and one tenure-track faculty member. Participants meet several times for two years.

The leadership is the faculty development director for Metro and key ePortfolio leaders and staff at SF State. They are all on the campus ePortfolio team.

Faculty Development

Successes

We have approximately 16 faculty participate each time we do this activity. We don’t yet have much evidence that it changes practice, although the use of ePortfolios has become more widespread in Metro. Each incoming student will continue to get an account and will build it out over their two years in the program.

Challenges

Limitations of time and computer lab space are ongoing challenges. Faculty engagement is an ongoing process as well. Academic Technology has helped us develop the capacity for program level assessment; this has helped with buy-in at the faculty and administrative levels. Another way we get faculty to continue their engagement is by bringing back the PD opportunities on an ongoing basis and by listening to what faculty want in their ePortfolios. We are exploring different mediums to communicate and use the ePortfolios in ways that keep faculty interest (e.g. taping speeches and putting them up, using reflective prompts and rubrics at different points in the courses, etc.).

Connections

The polished reflective practices were developed by Metro leadership, who are also leaders in the Metro professional development series.

The Role of Inquiry, Reflection and Integration

Inquiry

About half of this workshop focuses on inquiry and reflection. Participants read a chapter in Teaching to Transgress before attending the workshop, and then we spend time discussing this and reflecting on our own work and goals as teachers and learners. We work in pairs and small and large groups, discussing various aspects of this reading.

inquiry-clipart

Reflection

One of our objectives for this practice is to reflect on our own practice as educators and our philosophy on social justice education in the classroom. One activity we do during this practice is ask faculty to write a six-word memoir based on the chapter they read in Teaching to Transgress. Our reflection prompts include the following:

1)     What is one way you teach and learn without limits?

2)     What does engaged pedagogy mean to you and your classroom?

3)     What do you need to create a space of radical openness?

Share out the six-word memoir in pairs.

We find that exercises such as this help us make meaning out of our teaching experiences, help us grow as learners and teachers, and allow us to reflect within a community of teachers and learners.

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Integration

We conclude the exercise by asking each participant to identify a way they can apply what we have discussed to their own course. We ask them to think through a specific assignment that could be adapted.

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Evidence of Impact

Currently, the only evidence we collect to document the effectiveness of this particular ePortfolio-related professional development activity is faculty/staff reflections. In addition, after this workshop, some of the instructors became very active with ePortfolios in their classes. In one case, the instructor for an English composition course began using blogs in his course and his students became very engaged in the ePortfolio. As our program grows and ePortfolio initiative potentially grows, we will look to expand how we collect evidence. We look forward to learning more from our Connect to Learning peers about the work they are doing.

Connections to Other Sectors of the Catalyst

Pedagogy

This practice has helped some faculty members get oriented to ePortfolios and understand their larger objective. The presence of ePortfolio has helped create a culture of reflection in our classroom. Our practice has drawn on the work of our peers, both on our own campus and in our Connect to Learning network.

Scaling Up

This practice is a key piece of scaling up ePortfolios. Instructors need a time and place to see how ePortfolios work, why we use them, and how other programs and departments have used them. They also need ongoing support, both one-on-one and in a group setting.

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Outcomes Assessment

To date, the link between this practice and outcomes assessment has been minimal. However, we have been developing a set of program learning outcomes, corresponding rubrics, and a document that maps our programs’ signature assignments to our outcomes. We will begin meeting with faculty about these and incorporating them into our faculty development work, as well as our end-of-year program assessment work. The processes we piloted with the Connect to Learning project will be institutionalized in the next one-two years.

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Technology

Our ePortfolio platform is eFolio. It is relatively easy to use, affordable, and accessible. Access to computer labs has been a prohibitive barrier at the community college. Access to computer labs at SF State is much better, though resources are tight and lab sessions need to be scheduled well in advance. Some instructors are more enthused than others about integrating the technology into their own work and classroom.

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Attachments and Supporting Documents

FacultyLearningCommunityPresentersAgendaMetroInitiative12-9-11

Conclusion

As part of our faculty development learning community, we conducted a workshop on incorporating ePortfolios into the classroom. We focused on inquiry and reflection and how to allow this platform to assist our pedagogical goals. To get the most out of this practice, we believe we need ongoing workshops, as well as one-on-one support. Showing short videos about ePortfolios and how students learn with them was a helpful resource to include in the workshop.

 

 

“There are times when personal experience keeps us from reaching the mountain top and so we let it go because the weight of it is too heavy. And sometimes the mountain top is difficult to reach with all our resources, factual and confessional, so we are just there, collectively grasping, feeling the limitations of knowledge, longing together, yearning for a way to reach that highest point. Even this yearning is a way to know.”
― bell hooksTeaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom

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