Culture Shift or Paradigm Construction?
It is clearly stated that portfolios are not new at education, that - generally speaking - students have always showcased, selected and stored artefacts such as special assignments or outstanding tasks, etc. Definitions of eportfolios include notions of digital resource, flexible expression, accomplishment record, competence demonstration, collection of evidence, among others. Moreover, benefits for the users include learner's autonomy and meta-cognition; authentic assessment; life-long learning; creative thinking and collaboration; self-evaluation and reflection. Although the evidence showed during this week speaks positively about eportfolio projects, there exit certain "factors" that should be taken into account when considering "a shift" at teaching practice or classroom settings. To begin with, curricular prerequisites ,... and the question is: Are faculty members or EFL teachers ready to share with their students a precise curricular design? Isn’t it true that classroom settings differ (sometimes much) from study programs? And what about conveying standards? Quoting EDUCAUSE's review:
"...as the culture of the e-portofolio proliferates, it will contribute to an ossification of the current prefabricated, one-size-fits-most eporfolio model."
Other critical success factor is the change in the teachers' and students' roles, student-centered vs. teacher-centered paradigm (not a new discussion, of course) the need of facilitation, coordination and feedback allowing active involvent and meaning construction from the part of the learner.
Not to mention technology infrastructure and administrative support and faculty compensation, significantly essential at any stage of project development.
Implementation comes last but not least, what motivating stimulus will lead to it? Is it an idea or a fashion, a change of policy or some compelling reason which will avoid faculty from questioning about its use every step of the way?
However the five rules for students when implementing eportfolios appear to be clear enough:
1. Mandatory involvement and participation...
2. Computer literacy requirements...
3. Self-evaluation encouragement...
4. Regular feedback deadlines...
5. Imitation fostering and Success...
Future challenges include a rigorous evaluation strategy, a new paradigm development, a public policy, changes in technology and financial support, according to the above mentioned review.
Authors and projects explored are only the beginning of a practice that could radically change the way we teach and learn, not because this practice is new in itself, but because its purpose and current definition in relation to New Technologies have renewed it.
Shouldn’t focus be driven from cultural practices to the teaching paradigm? Once again, I ask myself, Aren’t we more than one hundred years from the firsts EFL's classroom approaches?
A1 English Test Pakistan