Professional Journal (April 1999) : LUSENET : M.Ed./International Falls : One Thread


REFERENCE: T. H. E. - Technological Horizons in Education, "Infusing Technology and Literacy into the Undergraduate Teacher Education Curriculum Through the Use of Electronic Portfolios"

This article discussed the addition of electronic portfolios in the teacher education curriculum at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Instructors were asked to develop a curriculum for student interns that incorporated innovative and meaningful activities as well as use the limited resources of the department.

Instructional units were put into place for the students participating prior to their internships and faculty members incorporated education-related and literacy-based activities that focused on cooperative and collaborative skills through group work. Technology was also a focus of this pilot. A charge was made to steer away from the traditional textbook approach and lead students into using technology as a tool for keeping track of their responses and group efforts.

Students were required to read assigned textbooks and also to attend two seminars, which prepared them for instructional plans and goals for the new technology experience. Random assigning was the strategy used for placing students into groups and each of the goals and conceptual principles were put into place. Collaboration and cooperation in a group of no more than 5 members was one goal. Problem solving was another goal, with the focus on bigger ideas and issues while exploring literacy-related materials. Once a problem was defined their task was to find a potential solution. Each group was then required to look at societal dilemmas discussed in their reading and literacy activities and work constructively to look at those solutions. Communication of deeper processing and of the content and critical development of literacy skills and strategies was the last goal discussed in this article.

A schedule was then set up for the groups, which included two overview sessions, forming of groups, assigning group roles, and textbook readings. Upon completion of the first scheduled activities students were then to meet with their groups for four sessions, draft ideas and information for their electronic group portfolio and work with technology coordinator to prepare information. The third phase of the pilot was to have the technology coordinator place information into the portfolio, have the group critique them, have larger groups view selected portfolios and convene for post-activity processing. Collaborative grouping is a very complicated and fine tuned machine. It has many pieces that must be placed correctly into place for success in any activity. Because of the limited resources in the computer lab, grouping was essential once the portfolios started to be created. Assigning and understanding the role of each member of the group became very important to the success of this project. HyperStudio 3.1 was the software used in the development of the electronic portfolios. The technology coordinator was responsible for making the actual entries into the portfolio. Each group member contributed ideas, suggestions for the portfolio design, and any additional data that needed to be included. Each member also received a copy of the portfolio on a disk and made changes as needed.

The Jigsaw approach was used for peer reviews. Portfolios were shared with each group and they were then considered to understand specific information regarding the portfolio or textbook and then ultimately form a new larger group so that the entire book or portfolio could be discussed and shared.

When students were surveyed about their experiences the vast majority were pleased with the pilot project and felt that it was a valuable experience.

I enjoyed this article very much. I am still in the process of deciding whether or not to do portfolio assessment or program development for my research thesis. I have contacted the author and collected the information via e-mail to perhaps use at a later date. RRCC is working on a pilot project for two courses that were originally titled Orientation. The orientation team has developed a new curriculum and focus for this course and portfolio development is the core outcome. Students are willing to work on the portfolio once they realize the importance of it and also tend to understand RRCC core outcomes and the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum much better. We are tracking the Fall semester student through their portfolio development, as well as with focus groups. This endeavor has been a learning experience and we make changes as we deem necessary. I wish that I would have had an opportunity to experience this project when I was studying to become an educator. Education is more than just curriculum and content. In the 21st century it is about teaching and learning. Technology is an excellent tool. Portfolio development and technology can help students focus their interests and demonstrate they are learning what we are teaching. This is a wonderful assessment tool if the institution and instructor outline the criteria and guidelines effectively. I have a feeling that in the future other universities will be using this model in the teacher education curriculums.

-- Anonymous, April 06, 1999

Moderation questions? read the FAQ