Late last year, NES who run the NHS ePortfolio, held a series of user group meetings. The objectives included “providing an opportunity for users to speak their minds and share their ideas to improve the system.“
The results of the feedback events were collated by NES, and they published a summary. So what can we learn from this?
Firstly we must question whether the results are representative of the users of the ePortfolio. Unfortunately the feedback events were during normal working hours and very few trainees or clinicians were able to attend. It is clear from the feedback that there were a significant number of administrators present. Their views are important but are over-represented in this sample. The sample size of the feedback events is also very small. This is important considering the large number of users and the fact that the use of the system by different Colleges varies.
Despite this there is some useful information contained in the summary, which is grouped into categories:
- what users like about the NHS ePortfolio (mainly that an ePortfolio is better than paper)
- dislikes about the technical implementation and website design
- dislikes related to the educational content or usage requirements of the ePortfolio
- dislikes relating to the governance of the ePortfolio
- what technical changes users would like made to the system
- what new features users would like
The results are not surprising. Many of the comments align with those on this site. Users want an app, want the site to be more intuitive to use and navigate, and want it to have better and more flexible functionality. They want interoperability with other systems and they want clarity on the purpose of the ePortfolio “is it a learning tool or a recording tool?” They also want a lower burden of assessments.
NES must be congratulated for attempting to engage users and gain feedback, and for their openness in releasing the results, but I can’t believe there is anything in the comments that they did not know already. The problem is less lack of information, and more lack of action. But as NES highlights in their post “who makes decisions about the ePortfolio?” in the bigger picture the power really rests with the Colleges.
Is it time to rethink how we use portfolios and workplace-based assessments in Postgraduate training? How can we adapt the software we have so that it works for us and we maximise the benefits of an ePortfolio for lifelong learning?