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Investigating student e-portfolios

Photo of Mark Knights

Mark Knights

The History department is developing a new second module called 'Doing History', in which all students will investigate historical skills and some will incorporate this with a foreign language whilst others will further their work through a project which will have a digital output. Both pathways through the module lend themselves to using e-portfolios, which can also be used to enhance a number of key relationships: between student and personal tutor (by providing a record of work that can then be reviewed) and between student and the outside world (by providing a portfolio of work that can be shown to prospective students, parents and/or employers). The design of the e-portfolio will be the result of a collaboration with a cohort of students who will provide feedback on design. The e-portfolio will have to be adaptable to different needs - outputs from student projects are likely to range from simple word files to podcasts and web-pages - and have both private and public sections. Students will need some basic training in using SiteBuilder, which also raises issues of portability and accessibility after a student has graduated. But the end result could be potentially rather useful: a shop window for the students' talents; an admissions tool to show prospective students; a means of handling lots of individual project work; and a mechanism for fostering advice from personal tutors. Potentially, the e-portfolio might also be a means by which internships could be showcased and even be a way of students keeping in touch with the university after graduation.

Prof Mark Knights is deputy head of the History Department and researches and teaches early modern British history. He has worked on a number of IT-related teaching projects in the past, funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee and the British Academy.