[Portfolio] [DG: Teaching & Learning] Learning Activities and Portfolios: time for a talk?

Ward, Lynn E. leward at iupui.edu
Thu Mar 18 07:58:33 PDT 2010

Hi Keli,

Just about any instructional designer will tell you that the first step to developing effective and appropriate learning activities is defining the learning objectives that the activities/assessment are intended to address. So, I don't see the emphasis on learning objectives/outcomes/competencies as at all specific to portfolio work.  We can encourage sound pedagogical practices by presenting faculty with a framework for defining their course objectives along with the ability to link activities and assessments to specific objectives.  Some faculty may choose not to use these capabilities, but I think providing them is a step in the right direction regardless of whether the course is engaged in any type of portfolio activities.

My personal hope is that Sakai 3 will allow objectives/outcomes/competencies/goals to be defined and shared at multiple levels (institution, school, department, program, course, individual user) and that any piece of content (an assignment, a blog post, a matrix cell, etc.) can be linked to any objective/outcome/etc that the user has access to.  So, for example, any faculty member (and potentially any student, if permitted) could link an assignment or an exam to an institutional outcome as well as to a course objective.  Similarly, students might be asked to define a set of personal goals that s/he hopes to accomplish and to link evidence to those goals.  So, much like the ability to grade/rate, assess content, I am hoping that this notion of being able to defining goal and link objects to them will permeate Sakai 3--sorta like Syracuse's Goal Management on steroids. :-)


Lynn Ward, Principal Systems Analyst, Academic and Faculty Services
University Information Technology Services
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
Information Technology and Communications Complex (IT 225D)
535 West Michigan Street, Indianapolis, IN 46202
Phone: 317-278-5713  E-mail: leward at iupui.edu  

-----Original Message-----
From: pedagogy-bounces at collab.sakaiproject.org [mailto:pedagogy-bounces at collab.sakaiproject.org] On Behalf Of kamann at stanford.edu
Sent: Wednesday, March 17, 2010 3:01 PM
To: pedagogy; sakai-ux
Subject: [DG: Teaching & Learning] Learning Activities and Portfolios: time for a talk?

Hello all,
I came to a realization this morning after talking with Clay. For the Learning Activities project, I have been talking about breaking the functionality that had been siloed in T&Q, Assignments, and Gradebook and Schedule. However, despite this, I was still thinking of Portfolios as a separate thing from the learning activities work we were doing. It's probably not as separate as I had been thinking.

Early on we talked to Janice Smith to get an overview of portfolios and Sakai. We talked to Virginia Tech about their work with portfolios and they later contributed some interviews. However, VT was the only school that explicitly used portfolios and the interviews they had at the time were only with students and TAs. Because none of the instructors we interviewed formally talked about writing out objectives and tying this to learning activities , none of the 8 instructor persona talk about things like writing objectives or attaching these to their activities, or evaluating student work based on such objectives.

This morning I read a note I had from a talk with Amber, Teggin, and Sam at Virginia Tech. They said that in one sense Assignments and Portfolios are alike in that students upload files to both, but Assignments is all about the submission, while Portfolio is more about the process.

Clay has reminded us that the needs that have been captured in Portfolios could, in the future, be met from different contexts, since tool boundaries will not be the same in 3.0. While it may be that the goals of a person interested in capturing evidence that a student has met certain objectives is different than one who just wants to give them an 87%, it's likely that they share some common needs that only fork off at a certain point. This is why embodying clusters of needs as persona has been useful for our project: it's a tool for helping us to see when Jane and Lisa have the same basic common needs, only Lisa needs a little more, or when Mark needs a completely different interface from Tammi.

While there is a part of me that wants to narrow focus, I know that we'd likely miss a great opportunity if we did. If we design interface for describing a learning activity, there are likely hooks into learning objectives that we need to plan for. Would an interface for grading a student submission be the same as that used for one evaluating it as part of a student's portfolio, or would it be radically different? 

I think that there are three ways we can start to build this understanding.

1) touch base with the folks who are thinking about OSP for 3.0 (Noah, Beth)
2) review the learning capabilities work that the T&L community is doing
3) find out about VT's latest interviews since January

After this, we may either need to add a persona, or it's possible that some of the existing persona might think more about objectives.

What do people think?
Keli Amann
User Experience Specialist
Academic Computing Services, 
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pedagogy at collab.sakaiproject.org

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