Executive Summary

The project will investigate how we might best create student e-portfolio for students in the humanities, using History as a case study.

History is developing over the course of 2011-12 a new second year core course called ‘Doing History’, key elements of which should have much broader applicability across departments. Students taking the module will all investigate historical skills and some will incorporate this with a foreign language and 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 require careful thought and 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, videocasts and webpages - and have both private and public sections. Students will need some basic training in using site-builder, 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.

The JISC has produced a report about e-portfolios [http://www.jisc.ac.uk/media/documents/publications/effectivepracticeeportfolios.pdf] which is helpful but much of the advice is generic and there is nothing that can effectively be lifted immediately for use.

The project addresses key aspects of the university’s Learning and Teaching Strategy for enhancing the student experience [http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/insite/strategy/student_experience] by fostering ways of enhancing employability and skills, thereby preparing students for lives beyond Warwick; investigating virtual learning spaces and maximising the use of technology to deliver teaching and learning; promoting undergraduate research; and improving academic tutoring.

The project will work with a small group of students in 2011-12 in order to design the e-portfolio but this will be used in 2012-13 by about 100 students taking the second year History honours programme. The applicability of what we come up with to a much larger cohort of students will be self-evident.

The support sought from IATL is financial, infrastructural and moral. The financial backing will be essential to pay for staff and student time to develop a successful model. Infrastructural support will come in the form of space for meetings and ideas. Moral support will be useful in persuading IT Services that this is something worthwhile that is a priority for staff time. We envisage working closely with Robert O’Toole of e-lab who can liaise with IT colleagues and also engage with students.

It should be recognised that, as with all experiments, the project may not succeed in all its ambitions but that lessons can be learnt whatever the outcome. If successful, a subsequent bid will be made for assistance in the following academic year to help ensure the smooth embedding of the e-portfolio into the module and departmental practice.