Digital Leading and Learning · Digital Tools in the Classroom · ePortfolio · Technology Application

Learning ePortfolios- Aligning Outcomes, Assessments, and Activities

Creating a significant learning environment is no easy task, especially during a time in education that focuses less on significant learning and more on standardized test scores. In order to ensure that our learning environment is significant, we used Fink’s A Self-Directed Guide to Designing Courses for Significant Learning for the initial design phase of our innovation plan, which focuses on the pilot year of our ePortfolio course. This course will run in our twelfth grade college preparatory English classes, where students will build and personalize learning ePortfolios. We chose our twelfth grade students as our pilot group because the curriculum is less focused on standardized testing and provides opportunities for implementation. We can gain meaningful feedback from them regarding their experience with the learning ePortfolio, and since they are about to graduate we hope that they will take more ownership of them as they prepare for college or the work force. Fink’s design helps us to have a broad perspective where we can think deeply about more aspects than just content and teaching/learning activities. A major pitfall with any course, unit, or lesson planning is that teachers fail to start with the end in mind, which can cause problems in the learning environment. However, the steps outlined in the initial design phase of Fink’s design plan help to prevent these issues.

Figure 1 Designing a Course

Learning Environment & Situational Factors to Consider

Learning ePortfolios for Trupe’s Sanchez’s and King’s CP12 Classes

  1. Specific Context of the Teaching/Learning Situation

How many students are in the class?  Is the course primary, secondary, undergraduate, or graduate level?  How long and frequent are the class meetings?  How will the course be delivered: live, online, blended, flipped or in a classroom or lab?  What physical elements of the learning environment will affect the class? What technology, networking and access issues will affect the class?

  • Students: About 120, 4 class periods, 3 different teachers
  • Level: Secondary- 12th graders
  • Class meetings: Every day, but Fridays will be the consistent day spent on ePortfolio work
  • Delivery: In a classroom with laptop cart and individually outside of class
  • Potential issues: Other teachers at times need to reserve the laptop cart, and it will have to be wheeled back and forth between our three classrooms to share it. Also, the laptops are older, take a long time to logon, and some have battery issues where they will not hold a charge. Infrequently there are internet connectivity problems.
  1. General Context of the Learning Situation

What learning expectations are placed on this course or curriculum by: the school, district, university, college and/or department?  the profession?  society?

  • Grading during 4 marking periods throughout the school year
  • Utilizing grade marking system of A (92-100) B (83-91) C (74-82) D (65-73) F (0-64)
  • Documenting of grades and assignments using Skyward
  • Following course syllabus with learning expectations communicated with students and parents
  • Aligning content with PA Core Standards for English Language Arts
  1. Nature of the Subject

Is this subject primarily theoretical, practical, or a combination?  Is the subject primarily convergent or divergent?  Are there important changes or controversies occurring within the field?

  • The subject of ePortfolios is mostly practical as it relates directly to each individual learner and their learning, interests, and personality.
  • The subject is primarily divergent in that students have the freedom to create content that they want in their ePortfolios, however creating the ePortfolio using WordPress is convergent as they will need to follow specific steps to do so.
  • There can be controversies regarding students having more control over their learning and the content that they are creating, as this involves a more hands-off approach from the teacher than schools and districts might be comfortable with.
  1. Characteristics of the Learners

What is the life situation of the learners (e.g., socio-economic, cultural, personal, family, professional goals)?  What prior knowledge, experiences, and initial feelings do students usually have about this subject?  What are their learning goals and expectations?

  • Our school is in a rural, but mostly affluent, suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Most students are caucasian and overall the school lacks racial diversity. Ninety-eight percent of students graduate and a large portion of these students move on to higher education.
  • Students do not have much, if any, prior knowledge on ePortfolios, what they are, how they are used, and why they are important.
  • Students will be able to engage in digital discussions, provide purposeful peer feedback for classmates, contribute meaningful reflections on own learning, and utilize technological tools to improve learning skills
  1. Characteristics of the Teacher

What beliefs and values does the teacher have about teaching and learning?  What is his/her attitude toward:  the subject? students? What level of knowledge or familiarity does s/he have with this subject?  What are his/her strengths in teaching?

  • The three teachers believe that teaching is important to aid students in their growth and development as people and learners. They value lifelong learning personally and for their students.
  • The teachers’ attitude toward the subject is positive as they have personally experienced the benefits of learning ePortfolios.
  • The teachers’ attitude toward students is that they value the differences between each of their students, have high expectations for them, hold them accountable, and support them in their academic and personal pursuits.
  • The teachers’ knowledge and familiarity with ePortfolios is past the novice stage but not yet at the expert stage. This inspires them to continue to gain knowledge and understanding about ePortfolios and continue to familiarize themselves with aspects that they are still foreign.
  • The teachers’ strengths are that they are passionate, student-focused, flexible, and hardworking educators with personal experiences creating and developing ePortfolios and using a wide variety of technological tools.

 Questions for Formulating Significant Learning Goals

A year (or more) after this course is over, we hope that students will have a resource to go to that will help them in the future. We want them to relearn the value and purpose of education, as well as how to take ownership of their educational experiences. Finally, we want them to learn how to personalize their educations so that they yearn to be lifelong learners.

My Big Harry Audacious Goal (BHAG) for the course is:

Through the use of the ePortfolio, learners will utilize technological tools to enhance their 21st century learning skills and in doing so will reflect on their own learning so that they are able to take ownership in it and truly learn not only how to learn, but how to want to learn.

Foundational Knowledge

  • What key information (e.g., facts, terms, formulae, concepts, principles, relationships, etc.) is/are important for students to understand and remember in the future?
  • What key ideas (or perspectives) are important for students to understand in this course?

 Learners will…

  1.   Familiarize themselves with the WordPress website
  2.   Understand how to collaborate with peers through digital discussions on their     ePortfolios

Application Goals

  • What kinds of thinking are important for students to learn?
  • Critical thinking, in which students analyze and evaluate
  • Creative thinking, in which students imagine and create
  • Practical thinking, in which students solve problems and make decisions
  • What important skills do students need to gain?
  • Do students need to learn how to manage complex projects?

 Learners will…

  1.  Analyze cross curricular connections
  2.  Evaluate their own learning progress
  3.  Design an organized and aesthetically pleasing ePortfolio that reflects their personal style
  4. Evaluate their audience and will integrate appropriate tools, visuals, and language    

 Integration Goals

  • What connections (similarities and interactions) should students recognize and make…:
  • Among ideas within this course?
  • Among the information, ideas, and perspectives in this course and those in other courses or areas?
  • Among material in this course and the students’ own personal, social, and/or work life?

Learners will..

  1. Reflect on the construction and style of their ePortfolios
  2. Connect the concepts between all core courses
  3. Relate academic content to their own personal interests and daily lives

 Human Dimensions Goals

  • What could or should students learn about themselves?
  • What could or should students learn about understanding others and/or interacting with them?

 Learners will..

  1. Evaluate their own learning styles and how to maximize these preferences
  2. Illustrate tact and restraint while practicing online etiquette

Caring Goals

  • What changes/values do you hope students will adopt?
  •  Feelings?
  •  Interests?
  •  Values?

Learners will..

  1. Appreciate holistic learning
  2. Invest in learning “how” and “why” to learn instead of  “what” to learn
  3. Discover personal interests and passions through the interactions and reflections of the course

“Learning-How-to-Learn” Goals

  • What would you like for students to learn about:
  • how to be good students in a course like this?
  • how to learn about this particular subject?
  • how to become a self-directed learner of this subject, i.e., having a learning agenda of what they need/want to learn, and a plan for learning it?

 Learners will…

  1. Become accountable for their own learning
  2. Appreciate the differences in learning styles and various uses of them
  3. Individualize what can be gained from a self-directed approach to the course

3 Column Table

BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) – Overarching Course Goal

Through the use of the ePortfolio, learners will utilize technological tools to enhance their 21st century learning skills and in doing so will reflect on their own learning so that they are able to take ownership in it and truly learn not only how to learn, but how to want to learn.

Learning Goals Learning Activities Assessment Activities
Foundational Goals

Learners will…

– Familiarize themselves with blogging website.

– Explore how to collaborate with peers through digital discussions on their ePortfolios.

 

– Webquest activity to see model ePortfolio

– Watch video about online discussions

 

– Sample blog post

 

– Simple discussion post

Application Goals

Learners will…

– Design an organized and aesthetically pleasing ePortfolio that reflects their personal style.

– Evaluate their audience and integrate appropriate tools, visuals, and language.

 

–  Design the ePortfolio

 

– Edit and revise previous posts and artifacts

– Peer review

 

– Self-assessment

Integration Goals

Learners will…

– Analyze connections between courses.

– Reflect on the physical and aesthetic value of the construction and style of their ePortfolios.

– Connect the concepts between all core courses and relate academic content to their own personal interests and daily lives.

 

– Blog posts

 

– Peer collaboration activity

 

– Blog posts

– Multimedia project

 

– Blog posts

 

– Checklist

 

– Writing assignment

– Multimedia project/presentation

Human Dimension Goals

Learners will…

– Evaluate their own learning preferences and how to maximize these preferences.

 

– Illustrate tact and restraint while practicing online etiquette.

 

 

 

– Small and large group discussion- Debate activity about whether or not learning styles exist

– Myth of Learning Styles

– Webquest for online etiquette rules

 

 

 

– Student-created M.I.. assessment based on results

 

 

– Ongoing discussion post evaluation

Caring Goals

Learners will…

– Invest in learning “how” and “why” to learn instead of  “what” to learn.

– Discover personal interests and passions through the interactions and reflections of the

course.

 

– Real-world problem solving activity

– Blog posts on purpose of learning

– Presentation

 

– Real-world problem solving activity

– Blog posts

 

– Presentation

 Learning How to Learn Goals

Learners will…

– Evaluate their own  learning progress.

– Become accountable for their own learning by individualizing what can be gained from a self-directed approach to the course– students will see how what they put in will be equal to what they put out while creating and reflecting on their ePortfolio

– Blog post reflections

 

– End of course connections in ePortfolio

– Reflection

 

– Portfolio check-in points

 

– Blog posts and final project

– Group deliverable

– Final project/teacher conference

Ultimately, our goal is for our students to continue to add to their ePortfolios after high school.  Whether the students attend college, technical school, the military, or join the workforce, we hope that they take the ePortfolios and use them beyond the confines of their high school English class. By giving students the skills and freedom to explore and create content that they are personally interested in, our goal is that students have the opportunity in this course to learn how they learn individually. Moreover, many students show an apathy towards learning, so we hope that the naturalistic approach of the ePortfolio encourages them to be intrinsically motivated to learn. We understand that it is each individual student’s responsibility to use the ePortfolio to its fullest potential and hope to create a learning environment in which this is encouraged.

Reference

Fink, L. D. (2003). A self-directed guide to designing courses for significant learning [PDF]. Retrieved from https://luonline.blackboard.com/bbcswebdav/pid-2169641-dt-content-rid-16690304_1/courses/EDLD_5313_D04_2016_60_AP1/Self-Directed%20Guide%20to%20Course%20Design%20-%20Fink%20Summary.pdf

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