Tag Archives: Personal learning environment

All ePortfolios are equal, but some are more equal than others

The NHS ePortfolio is not the only kid on the block. Since starting this site I have been pointed in the direction of some alternatives (thanks for all suggestions). There are specific requirements for NHS trainees which mean that it is more likely we will always all have to use the same software, rather than being able to break out and use different versions. Most obviously this is the need to collate standard Workplace Based Assessments. However, we can window shop, and return with a long shopping list…

1. The GPs didn’t just get mad, they got creative

This site seems to have been created due to a need for a FREE ePortfolio tool that could do 360 degree appraisals, and have the ability to log a number of different types of CPD activity. Clearly very GP focused, and I can’t get in to see how user-friendly and intuitive it is. The testimonials make it sound great! Likely to be limited in scope, flexibility and future directions as created for a specific purpose and audience. I get the impression it’s aimed at GP Partners more than trainees (who have to use the NHS GP Portfolio).

2. Pebblepad

Claims to be able to fulfill multiple functions which sounds good:

  • Assessment (formal and informal)
  • Advancement (promotion or transition)
  • Appraisal (self – peer – 360)
  • Accreditation (professional bodies)
  • Application (course, job, funding)
  • Articulation (informative story telling)
Looks quite corporate, not easy to move from different areas of content. Seems to have been well thought out and to have considered the need to be able to display the contents in a useful way, and export this for multiple purposes. Has flexibility in terms of what content can be stored, including files, pictures and links. But somehow still doesn’t feel like what I’m looking for.  

3. Mahara

Aims to be a learner-centred Personal Learning Environment. Specific features include the ability to choose which aspects of the portfolio are public and private; the ability to create a digital CV; a blogging area (maybe it’s better than calling it reflection?) and the ability to interface with Moodle. Also, it’s Open Source. We love Open Source! Mahara ticks a lot of boxes for me, especially the fact that there has been some thought about how to display features in a very visual way, but it feels a little juvenile. And it is difficult to see content – it requires lots of clicks to do anything. The fewer the clicks the lower my frustration levels!

4. Googlios

Of course, why did I not realise that Google would be ahead of the game on this? The Googlio comes the closest to my idea of how the NHS ePortfolio should look and feel.  It is easy to navigate, with different sections accessed in multiple ways, meaning very few clicks to do anything. It presents an individualised “showcase” of what’s inside with a standard set of bits of information, but with the ability for the individual to highlight their most significant achievements and curate their own “front page”. It works with Googledocs, Word and Excel so the information contained within it is exportable for other purposes, and documents can be dynamic (I’m thinking about the great potential for a log-book here). It is easy to embed links, blogs, and other content from all sorts of different applications, and they are displayed in a helpful way. It’s not perfect as it needs a timeline amongst other things. But they completely sold me by using Leonardo da Vinci as inspiration. “The Googlio philosophy could transform 21st century education, using 21st century tools. This has the potential to stir a return, a revolution, a rebirth, a revival of educational renaissance.” I’m not really sure what this means but I’m excited. This is the kind of model the NHS ePortfolio team should follow. ePortfolio Gods, please look at this!

I have now used Googlios (or Google sites as it’s also called) to create my own teaching portfolio. Having spent a while getting to grips with the interface I remain a big fan. The NHS ePortfolio has a lot to learn about user satisfaction…

I was also directed to the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges project MIPS, which aims “to develop an initial set of ePortfolio standards to encourage modularisation of systems and secure interoperability between ePortfolio systems (NHS, Collegiate and others).” I think this is a word-y way of saying they want to lay down some ground rules for how ePortfolios should work, and how they should work together. Sounds great! And it’s so great to see a project like this working across Colleges and specialities. We all have a core set of very similar needs, so should be pooling resources and ideas. I can’t see any signs of progress or deadlines on the site, however. Hopefully there’s lots going on with this project in the  shadows…

Know of an ePortfolio you think is better? Have experience of using one of those featured above? Comment below.

NB. Since writing the original post I have also been directed to an NHS Hackday presentation on standards for an ePortfolio and  a site defining  Government IT standards, which look like great starting points for agreeing standards that must be achieved in using data, including that in the ePortfolio. Lots to think about.