Current online information environments and associated transactions are considered an important ‘information ecosystem’ (Haythornthwaite & Andrews, 2011, p in ch 8) influencing and shaping professional engagement and digital scholarship in communities of learning in the higher education sector (Lee, McLoughlin & Chan, 2008). This kind of information ecosystem is also considered to be social in practice and making use of use of participatory technologies and online social networks to share, reflect, critique, improve, and validate academic engagement and scholarship (Veletsianos & Kimmons, 2012, p.768).
Thanks to advances in technology, the powerful tools at our disposal to help students understand and learn in unique ways are enabling new ways of producing, searching and sharing information and knowledge (Conole, 2013). By leveraging technology, we have the opportunity to open new doors to scholarly inquiry for ourselves and our students. While practical recommendations for a wide variety of ways of working with current online technologies is easily marketed and readily adopted, there is insufficient connection to digital scholarship in the creation of meaning and knowledge as an action of digital scholarship. It is perhaps simplistic to migrate a pre-digital taxonomy to a digital environment and to ignore the function of and relationship to digital scholarship for the educator or higher education academic.
Portfolios are a well-researched and proven pedagogical approach to support reflective thinking as well as providing the opportunity for students to demonstrate functioning knowledge in the context of intended learning outcomes within a subject or through a course.
A portfolio provides reflective knowledge construction, self-directed learning, and facilitates habits of lifelong learning within the profession.
Considering the potential of e-portfolios means that we can also meet the challenges of learning within enhanced subject experiences which we have detailed through the CSU Online Learning and Teaching Model.
CSU Thinkspace is an online blogging and web platform that allows for varied and flexible use of the tool during a course, creating a range of subject experiences that can build into an extensive digital portfolio of learning achievements.
Back in 2013, as part of my work as Courses Director, we established Thinkspace which is a branded version hosted by CampusPress from Edublogs. Awesome. Working with my favourite consultant Jo Kay, the design and support structures were set up. We were ready for the integration of reflective blogging and an integrated approach to an e-portfolio!
We have been using Thinkspace for :
- reflective blogging
- website creation
- digital assessments of various kinds
- digital artifacts
- open education resources
- course and subject specific learning experiences
- peer-to-peer engagement
- developing digital literacies for working and learning online
- providing graduates with evidence of their personal and professional capabilities in their chosen discipline field.
I was recently asked to create a video that explains what Thinkspace is, and the pedagogical rationale of using Thinkspace in subjects with a particular emphasis on the use of Thinkspace as an e-portfolio within a course (degree program) Master of Education (Teacher Librarianship). We also adopted the same approach in the Master of Education (Knowledge Networks & Digital Innovation).
Here is a video that tells the story. You may often see blog posts shared on Twitter as part of the participatory learning experiences!
Conole, G. (2013). Designing for learning in an open world. New York, Springer.
Haythornthwaite, C., & Andrews, R. (2011). E-learning theory and practice. California, Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.
Lee, M. J., McLoughlin, C., & Chan, A. (2008). Talk the talk: Learner‐generated podcasts as catalysts for knowledge creation. British Journal of Educational Technology, 39(3), 501-521.
Veletsianos, G., & Kimmons, R. (2012). Networked participatory scholarship: Emergent techno-cultural pressures toward open and digital scholarship in online networks. Computers & Education, 58(2), 766–774. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2011.10.001