Scaling Up ePortfolio Support


Executive Summary

The Tasmanian Polytechnic will sustainably scale up its ePortfolio service (currently almost 1,000 users) to all campuses for several thousand learners. This will provide evidence across a wider range of qualifications of how students can use ePortfolios to manage evidence of their learning. To achieve this scaling up a number of good practice models for service provision that motivate and support learners and teachers will be implemented including
  • the integration of Moodle and Mahara for single-sign-on (SSO) and mobile access
  • the development of desktop and iPad customised tutorial screencasts and help documentation
  • a state-wide student-run ICT Helpdesk to provide 24/7 ICT support and ePortfolio champions with personal access to iPads
  • liaison with school and university ePortfolio implementation projects to provide students with a more seamless ePortfolio transition across sectors
  • the development of learning design and page templates that provide simpler entry points for the novice ePortfolio user

Organisational overview

The Tasmanian Polytechnic is a state-wide organisation that offers more than 300 VET qualifications across 10 campuses to over 15,000 students. To date the strategic implementation of ePortfolios has focussed on individual qualifications and some year 11/12 pathway planning in regional areas.

Tasmanian Polytechnic’s e-portfolio implementation


Our e-portfolio implementation was an integrated Mahara 1.4 and Moodle 2.1 system hosted through Pukunui Australia.
E-portfolio data can be saved as a standalone HTML website, exported through the LEAP 2A format.
The Mahara e-portfolio allowed a wide range of file types to be uploaded including zip format.

Links to social media were made throughout the Moodle and Mahara systems reflecting the dramatic increase in the use of these services for learning and communication by staff and students.

mahara-page.JPG

User e-portfolios were limited to 50MB although users could request additional space.
Ongoing hosting costs for the integrated single-sign-on Mahara and Moodle amounted to between $1.50 and $2 per head depending on the maximum number of students.

Systems administration support was provided by Pukunui Australia and site administration ICT support was provided by one person at the Polytechnic. Further user support was provided by Professional Learning staff, Library staff and teachers. Due to budget and staffing cuts soon after this project began the student ICT Helpdesk was not established.

Induction sessions were held for staff and classes as requested. This usually involved a short introduction and a tour of existing online and printed help resources.

In the initial implementation of this project Pukunui Australia set up the single-sign-on Mahara and Moodle system.
Expertise available on the project team was used to set up access via mobile phone apps.
Help resources and templates were developed in-house.

apps for moodle and mahara.PNG
Help page with information for users on how to use mobile apps

What makes the implementation sustainable?

Due to ICT service provision changes and a review of VET provision in Tasmania this project could not be completed.
The Mahara/Moodle e-portfolio system was established as described in the project plan but external decisions relating to support and more importantly the likely switch to a different e-portfolio system by the Tasmanian Department of Education meant that it was no longer feasible to attract large numbers of students into the existing system.

Based on early feedback from users the project team believes that the Mahara/Moodle system as it was developed would have proved to be a sustainable implementation for the following reasons (although this could not be trialled and evaluated with several thousand students as planned.)
  • An integrated Mahara/Moodle system did alleviate user concerns from previous e-portfolio projects of having multiple logins and confusing navigation between systems
  • The externally hosted Mahara/Moodle with systems administration ICT support provided a responsive and reliable service
  • Linking Mahara, Moodle and social media services such as Facebook proved very popular with students
  • Using the Embedly plugin for Mahara enabled users to showcase assets in their e-portfolio without having to upload those assets into Mahara. The availability of the Google Apps content block also enabled users to display content without importing it.
  • Customised help videos and PDF sheets for just-in-time assistance was important - particularly to make teachers feel more comfortable in guiding students after initial induction sessions.

mahara-youtube.JPG
26 help videos assisted teachers and the self-directed user
content.JPG
The Embed.ly and Google Apps content blocks enabled users to display content without uploading them to their e-portfolio

Outcomes of this scaling study

This project was not completed to the scaling up stage due to changes in ICT provision that occurred during the first phase of implementation.
Technical implementation of the system in readiness for several thousand students was completed and initial feedback from existing users was very positive.

Lessons learned

Organisational provision of ICT services has changed and the provision of vocational education is under review in Tasmania.
These factors had a significant impact on this project.
Organisational plans for e-portfolios will be clarified in the near future.

Resources and references

Moodle - See Moodle.org
Mahara - See Mahara.org
Pukunui Australia
PortfolioUP - mobile application
Moodle Touch - mobile application
My Moodle - iPhone App

Team contact information

Roger Stack, Tasmanian Department of Education, roger.stack 'at' education.tas.gov.au