Mahara for Teachers by Andrea Ghoneim: ePortfolio in Physics teaching in the Neue Mittelschule

Mahara ePortfolios in Austrian clePortfolio in Physics teaching in the Neue Mittelschule

ePortfolio in Physics teaching in the Neue Mittelschule*
(lower secondary, 4th grade, students aged around 14 years, class of 16 students)

In Austria, the “Neue Mittelschule” (a new type of lower secondary school which replaces the old type of “Hauptschule” - a process that will be completed by 2018/19) aims at new, cooperative and open forms of teaching. The didactic principles include the use of ICT. The students have to develop “Sachkompetenz, Selbstkompetenz und Sozialkompetenz” (expertise, self-competence, and social competence).

cf. BMUKK (2012). Verordnung der Bundesministerin für Unterricht, Kunst und Kultur über die Lehrpläne der Neuen Mittelschulen. http://www.bmukk.gv.at/medienpool/22513/bgbla_2012_ii_185_anl1.pdf [20.08.2012].

For competence-based teaching and learning ePortfolios can be seen as an adequate environment for such a competence based education. In his recent master thesis, Alexander Frick presents his research basing on the question, how far ePortfolios and information- and communication technologies (ICT) can make a contribution to intensify a competence-orientation of teaching physics in secondary education. He explains basics of competence-based teaching in Austria, Germany and Switzerland and different concepts of (e)Portfolio-work and draws parallels between the phases of competence-based teaching, the landmarks of portfolio-work and the phases of (e)Portfolio-work in context with one another. He describes the implementation of ePortfolios in a 4th grade secondary class (Neue Mittelschule) in Vorarlberg/Austria. For the project, all lessons took place in the computer working room of the school. The students were informed about the basic aims of the ePortfolio project and about rules in the virtual classroom. They received a Mahara account and were trained in using the software. A common project about “magnetism” enabled the students to collect their first experience with the software and with creating a Mahara-view basing on (self-made) artefacts. Basing on the newly acquired skills, the students worked independently with Mahara on the topic “Direct Current motor” (Gleichstrommotor). As the ePortfolio was to serve as the learning companion of the students, they received a handout on the obligatory parts of the ePortfolio. The ePortfolio had to contain a cover letter in which the topic was presented, furthermore students had to write a learning diary with at least two entries per week with reflections on the learning process. Additionally, the feedback of one fellow student was requested. For the self- and peer-assessment, students were provided with a competence framework (on the basis of “can do”-statements). With its help, they determined their status quo at the start and the end of the learning process. During the learning process, the learners collected everything that could contribute to solve the different exercises around the DC Motor. Their teacher had mainly the function of a coach. The results of the proving of ePortfolios in teaching physics in secondary education show that ePortfolio-work contributes to the competence-orientation of teaching because there is a considerable amount of parallels between ePortfolio-processes and the phases of competence-based teaching. ePortfolios foster the acquisition of competencies in physics as well as the acquisition of ICT-competencies.

*compiled from: Alexander Frick (2013). ePortfolios als Möglichkeit zur Kompetenzorientierung des Physikunterrichts in der Sekundarstufe I [ePortfolios as a possibility for competence orientation in physics teaching in secondary I - in German]. Krems: Donau-Universität (Master Thesis).