ePortfolio – a counterview

As part of my ‘onboarding’ I was watching this video and thinking about it as it relates to what I’ve been observing.

I’ve been blogging for a long time and have used it to document my learning and understanding about a wide range of things, including my children’s development, learning chinese, coming to grips with living in different cultures and most recently as I continue my tertiary education.

I think Dr. Barrett has some very valid points. BUT. It really all depends on who is initiating the creation of the portfolio.  If I look at my children for example. I have a child who is a serial obsessive and during an obsession will spend every waking moment learning everything he needs to know about his desired topic. This includes joining online chat groups, watching youtube videos, experimentation, talking to people, finding experts and grilling them.  However he’s not a keen writer or documenter so this will never go beyond what we as a family observe and what teachers may notice and appreciate (or even document themselves). If I look back at his “compulsory” school learning portfolio I see little or no evidence of this learning. Does this mean it didn’t happen? Or that it’s not appreciated or meaningless? It’s in fact one of the things that happen that allow me to have complete faith that regardless of school grades “he’ll be ok”.  Gee made the same point in his discussion on passionate affinity spaces.

A friend of mine recently confided that her son had decided to “drop out” of school just before his final year.  I know a couple of other highly intelligent very motivated high school students who are at risk. Their problem? Not that they’re struggling with the subject matter but that they’re struggling with the matter of subjects. Often they seem to be just the students who DO know what their calling is and everything else on offer (demand) is just so much noise.

Out of the school environment, with the assumption that individuals are studying a subject of interest and choice another issue seems to arise.  Fear / embarrassment. So many of my cohort – otherwise accomplished, intelligent and knowledgeable individuals struggle to the point of refusal to document their learning process. This belies the fact that the whole point is to document a process rather than an outcome. It’s also a very flawed view. What parent would refuse to video their child learning to roll over, sit, crawl, stand up and finally walk but say “I’ll wait until they walk because all the rest is just practise for that end goal”?  I think as adult learners we do everyone else coming after us a disservice by not showing our mistakes and errors in thinking and assumptions and unpolished learning – because if they can’t see the steps the end-goal seems so much less attainable.

So I guess the thing is yes to ePortfolios but perhaps negotiation as to the content and topics.

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