Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The ePortfolio Talk

This week begins the second-to-last week of classes. In the final two weeks, my students are all overwhelmed with everything they need to do for all their classes, all the projects and exams and, in my class, their notebooks, their research papers and their ePortfolios.

My department offers a syllabus for the lower level English classes that I use, and it includes a grading system that comprises of assignments that equal 1,000 points. This makes it easy to assign a value system - notebooks are worth 15% (150 points), the Issue Exploration Project is worth 25% (250 points), etc. Although we've been discussing the ePortfolio throughout the semester and I've mentioned multiple times that they need to have one set up, today we really got into what goes on it and how it should be laid out. I told them last week to have their ePortfolios set up before they came to class today, that I would love to be able to offer extensive help to each student who might need it, but I simply couldn't - there wouldn't be time. I helped several students figure out what a hidden page meant; I answered other questions about layout and where the self-assessments were to go; and talked rather extensively to one student who just couldn't seem to take the initiative and try to figure things out alone - she asked questions about everything instead of trying it first.

Most students wound up talking to each other during class, asking questions of each other about ePortfolio layout, and clarification.

And I was reminded of my second Methods class at Stony Brook University, in which the professor continually referenced digital natives and digital immigrants, how much I dislike those identifiers - and more importantly, how much those identifiers are just wrong. Based on those presumptions, my students, by sheer dint of being a decade or more younger than I should be much more literate than I am, yet they aren't. Rather, some are certainly more knowledgeable about computers than I, but from what I'm seeing, the students just don't have the experience with web design that I have - which is saying something, because in contrast to the computer professionals I know, I have much less of an understanding.

So we talked a little about this in class today, but I wonder if it would behoove me to talk about the ePortfolio much earlier in the semester, and do so more in depth, because clearly they're just not grasping it. My job is not that of a computer or technical instructor, and I'm loathe to spend multiple classes on web design, but perhaps I could incorporate such discussions into class time about communication and professionalism.

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