Learning Motivation through ePortfolios

by Andrea Ghoneim

A workshop with principals and teachers in the framework of the EU funded project EUfolio.

On the 4th of March 2014 a workshop on ePortfolio practice in Slowenia schools took place in Ljubljana. During the workshop technical developments of Mahara were on the agenda as well as first ePortfolio experiences of teachers and students.

The project EUfolio is devoted to the implementation of ePortfolios in lower secondary in schools in Cyprus, Ireland, Lithuania, Slovenia and Spain. The Austrian project partner, the Department of Interactive Media and Educational Technologies at Danube University Krems accompanies the process with a process specification and a functional specification.

For the workshop in Ljubljana, Dr. Andrea Ghoneim and Christian Fertl from Danube University, who are also responsible for the Mahara server of the project, visited their project partners of the National Education Institute of Slovenia (ZRSŠ) in Ljubljana. The Austrian ePortfolio experts Dr. Klaus Himpsl-Gutermann and Dr. Thomas Strasser (both from the University of Teacher Education in Vienna) accompanied them to enrich the workshop with additional input. The venue of the workshop was a school, where Dr. Gregor Mohorčič, director of the ZRSŠ and Tanja Rupnik Vec welcomed the participants. Borut Campelj of the Slovenian Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport and Mitja Čepič Vogrinčič of the Pedagogical Research Insitute were present as well.

The venue: The school Polje, where Mahara ePortfolios are used by some teachers in the classroom.

In the morning, one working group (in which, among others, Gregor Anželj and Radovan Krainc participated, who are well known to the Mahara community) discussed techological requirements for the Mahara platform for the project and possible development. The parallel group was devoted to a discussion with prinicipals of the participating schools. The basis was a checklist for the implementation of ePortfolios, which served as a basis for discussion of different topics which are connected to the responsibility of headmasters – like the question, how ePortfolios can be archived in case they are the basis for assessment of the students.

The programme of the afternoon was directed to the teachers. It started by a plenary session, in which Dr. Thomas Strasser compared the introduction of ePortfolios on institutional level with the battles of Don Quixote. He showed peadgigical and didactical background of ePortfolio work and also spoke about the anxieties of many teachers, caused by a change in the teaching and learning structure of the 21st century. The auditorium was filled by 40 teachers, additionally the members of the strategic team of ZRSŠ who consult the teachers on their ePortfolio journey were present.

After the plenary lecture, the audience split into three groups to discuss their the pros and cons of ePortfolios in the classroom intensively. The teachers whose students are already using ePortfolio reported that a shift in the student's learning culture is a positive result of the work with Mahara. The self-directed and interactive work is not only stimulating the motivation, in addition to that, it initiates the student's ability for self-reflection. The exchange of tips and tricks for the use of Mahara as well as didactical hints made the group sessions inspiring and let everyone look forward to try out more features in their practice.

In April, Slovenia will host the meeting of the EUfolio consortium, where all piloting partners will exchange their experiences. This May, a conference on Child Led Learning in Slovenia can be seen as a further step towards shaping the teaching and learning culture of the 21st century.

EUfolio, workshop, platform development, teacher training, principals, ePortfolio, motivation