|Australasian Journal of Educational Technology
2011, 27(6), 1026-1041.
Designing an e-portfolio for assurance of learning focusing on adoptability and learning analytics
Beverley Oliver and Barbara Whelan
The Assurance of Learning for Graduate Employability framework is a quality assurance model for curriculum enhancement for graduate employability, enabling graduates to achieve "the skills, understandings and personal attributes that make [them] more likely to secure employment and be successful in their chosen occupations to the benefit of themselves, the workforce, the community and the economy" (Yorke, 2006). Of particular note is the framework's dependence on three foundations, including easy access to integrated and accessible tools for staff and student self-management. In other words, this approach to curriculum quality depends on staff and student access to tools that enable them to self-manage their learning. This paper examines two aspects which informed the design of a student e-portfolio system, iPortfolio, intended for students' self-management of their learning, particularly recording evidence of their achievement of capabilities. The paper focuses on two particular considerations in the design of the iPortfolio: adoptability and learning analytics. Adoptability means the phase preceding adoption, whether students have the devices, platforms and technology skills to be able to use such an innovation. The iPortfolio also facilitates learning analytics: it has the capability to gather data related to learning indicators for course quality assurance purposes. Both adoptability and analytics are very dynamic fields: new devices, platforms and applications constantly spark changes in user habits, and policy changes mean institutions need to be able to provide new data, often at short notice. In the conclusion, the paper suggests how tools such as the iPortfolio can be designed for 'future proofing' and sustainability.
Figure 1: The Assurance of Learning for Graduate Employability framework
Of particular note is the framework's dependence on three foundations, including integrated and accessible tools for staff and student self-management. In other words, this approach to curriculum quality depends on staff and student access to tools that enable them to manage learning. The concept of the framework emerged as part of Curtin University's Curriculum 2010 (C2010) project, a three-year curriculum renewal initiative. The project outcomes included innovative tools for staff (curriculum mapping and costing tools, and graduate employability surveys) and students (an eportfolio system called iPortfolio). The iPortfolio is newly implemented and appears to have been successful in terms of awards, user subscriptions and hit rates; however, this paper is not focused on the implementation or the uptake of the system (in depth analyses will be reported in a separate paper). Instead, this paper focuses on two particular considerations in the design of the iPortfolio: adoptability and learning analytics.
In this paper, adoptability means researching the phase preceding adoption: do students have the devices, platforms and technology skills to be able to use the innovation? This paper reports on the literature to date on this topic as well as research at the home institution that informed the design of the iPortfolio. Secondly, assurance of learning requires that systems have data capability for self-directed learning, and for institutional quality assurance purposes. This paper includes background information on the emerging field of learning analytics and how and why this has been factored into the design of the iPortfolio. Finally, both adoptability and analytics are very dynamic: new devices, platforms and applications constantly spark changes in user habits, and policy changes mean institutions need to be able to provide new data, often at short notice. In the conclusion, the paper suggests how tools such as the iPortfolio can be to some degree 'future proofed' and sustainable.
Since 2004, undergraduate students at US higher education institutions have been surveyed about their ownership and use of ICT on an annual basis (Kvavik, Caruso & Morgan, 2004; Kvavik & Caruso 2005; Salaway & Caruso, 2007; Smith, Salaway et al. 2009), and research has also been reported on Australian undergraduates (Oliver & Goerke, 2007; Kennedy, Judd et al. 2008; Gray, Chang et al. 2010). Many studies show, unsurprisingly, that student ownership of mobile devices and other forms of ICT have increased over recent years (Smith, Salaway et al. 2009), with most students reporting that they own a computer and/or a mobile phone (Caruso, 2004; Caruso & Salaway 2007; Kennedy, Judd et al. 2008). The technologies themselves have also changed over the years, with increasing ownership of laptop computers and smart phones, corresponding to decreasing ownership of desktop computer and simple mobile phones (Caruso & Salaway 2007; Smith, Salaway et al. 2009). Like broader populations, most students have access to the Internet, more often using broadband rather than dialup access (Caruso & Salaway 2007; Kennedy, Judd et al. 2008).
However, as there are differences in technology provisions between institutions (Caruso & Kvavik, 2005) and between countries (Wentzel, Lammeren et al. 2005), it is important to gather institutional level data, particularly given rapid deployment of new innovations. In the Western world, many have increased access to wireless networking (and Internet access via mobile handsets); social networking applications such as FaceBook, MySpace and Twitter have changed communication patterns, and the 'read-write' web has enabled far greater interactivity and user-driven content (Melville, Allan et al. 2009; Lenhart, Purcell et al. 2010).
For this reason, Curtin University has tracked student usage and ownership of devices and applications since 2007. The two recent surveys (2009 and 2010) sought information on student access to the Internet off campus, ownership and use of mobile devices, and perceptions as to how the learning experience might be enhanced with devices, network services and online tools. The results of the 2009 data gathering exercise have been reported elsewhere (Oliver & Nikoletatos, 2009). Those results are repeated for comparison with the 2010 results (the full text of the 2010 survey is given in the Appendix, and some details for the 2010 survey method are given below).
For two weeks in April 2010 a web survey was available to students through Curtin's student portal, similar to the survey conducted in 2009. It sought information on students' access to the internet off campus, their ownership and use of mobile devices and their perceptions as to how their learning experience at Curtin might be enhanced with devices, network services and online tools. The preface for the 2010 survey was:
Curtin is interested in the mobile devices you own and how you use them, so we can meet your connectivity needs. By completing this survey you will be entered into a prize draw to win one of nineteen available $20 book vouchers for the Curtin Bookshop. Your student ID will be recorded for the purposes of entering you in the draw (and to ensure each student completes the survey only once); however your ID will not be recorded with your survey responses. The results of this survey may be published in research but your identity will not be revealed in any way. Submission of this survey assumes you give your consent to your anonymous feedback being included in results and reporting.
n = 1536
n = 537
|Science and Engineering||26.6||29.8|
|Progress||None, I am commencing||43.5||37.8||0.125|
|Up to about half||34.6||37.1|
|About three quarters||11.6||13.8|
|Most, completing soon||10.3||11.4|
In 2009 there were 1536 responses, and far fewer in 2010 (537 responses) possibly due to the proximity of the surveys. The number of students who answered both surveys is unknown. Nevertheless, the two respondent groups are roughly comparable (see Table 1) except in sex and age (higher proportion of males and those 20 years or older in the 2010 respondents, p < .05). In both years, the majority of students were full time, 25 years or younger, had English as their first language, and were up to half way through their undergraduate studies in a similar spread of disciplines at the main urban campus.
In both years, the vast majority of students (93%) reported having Internet access off campus; in 2010, nearly 90% reported having broadband, and 42.3% had wireless. Each year, students were asked whether they owned a laptop or similar portable device, and their intentions to upgrade in the next 12 months. Table 2 shows ownership of laptops and similar devices was increased in 2010 as was the intention to upgrade. Students provided a variety of reasons for upgrading: functionality, usability and compatibility, brand attractiveness, availability and price.
|Portable computer (laptop, netbook, or similar)*||77.7%||86%||0.000|
|Planning to upgrade in the next year||29%||42%||0.000|
|* The percentage of students owning a portable computer in 2009 was gathered from collating those who owned a laptop and/or a netbook.|
Mobile phone ownership and intention to upgrade are similar: nearly all respondents owned a mobile phone (98.2% in 2009; 99.6% in 2010, p > .05). About a third each year signalled their intention to upgrade (30.3% in 2009; 38.6% in 2010, p > .05). In terms of brand and platform, about a quarter of students in 2009 were unsure what they would buy; in 2010, only 4% were undecided (p < .05): about a quarter planned to purchase Nokia, and about 45% planned to buy an iPhone (up from 20% the previous year, p < .05). Table 3 shows respondents' use of their phones: students frequently used their phones to access web pages, connect wirelessly (more so in 2010), take photos and use SMS texting, and less often to make videos, record audio and listen to music, MMS and video conferencing.
In relation to their use of social networking, Table 4 shows that usage of all the sites had increased (except MySpace), though some were from low starting points. There was very high and increased use of Facebook in 2010 (at least three-quarters were frequent users), and about a third of students used Twitter occasionally. Second Life usage was very low. When asked what devices and applications would improve their learning experience, students commented on laptops (some mentioned newer devices such as iPads, iPod Touches or iPhones); easy and reliable access to wireless; better access to computers, printers and photocopiers on campus; more access to streamed lectures; and more power points to charge devices.
|Access web pages||No, phone can't||15.3||11.9||0.000|
|No, phone can but I don't||48.7||28.5|
|Access wireless (wi-fi)||No, phone can't||38.9||29.6||0.000|
|No, phone can but I don't||38.7||23.9|
|Listen to music/audio||No, phone can't||10.3||7.2||0.009|
|No, phone can but I don't||29.6||32.4|
|Watch movies||No, phone can't||32.5||23.4||0.002|
|No, phone can but I don't||45.5||50.0|
|Take photos||No, phone can't||5.7||4.0||0.108|
|No, phone can but I don't||8.5||11.0|
|Make videos||No, phone can't||13.2||9.7||0.000|
|No, phone can but I don't||31.3||42.0|
|Record audio||No, phone can't||9.8||6.7||0.001|
|No, phone can but I don't||44.5||54.7|
|Yes, I do occasionally||36.6||29.9|
|Yes, I do frequently||9.0||8.8|
|Video conference (e.g. Skype)||No, phone can't||45.0||35.3||0.002|
|No, phone can but I don't||46.6||53.4|
|Yes, I do occasionally||4.4||6.4|
|Yes, I do frequently||4.0||5.0|
|Send and receive SMS||No, phone can't||0.5||0.4||0.699|
|No, phone can but I don't||1.5||1.3|
|Yes, I do occasionally||9.0||10.8|
|Yes, I do frequently||89.0||87.5|
|Send and receive MMS||No, phone can't||9.5||5.7||0.031|
|No, phone can but I don't||32.6||30.2|
|Yes, I do occasionally||32.7||36.3|
|Yes, I do frequently||25.2||27.9|
|chi-squared||Frequency of use (2010 only)|
Figure 2: Screenshot of the iPortfolio showing the My Ratings
and other tabs, and the tag cloud
The results of these surveys at Curtin and beyond provide evidence in relation to adoptability: the iPortfolio was designed on the premise that the majority of intended adopters were likely to have broadband (often wireless) access to the Internet off campus, and access using mobile devices; a newer laptop or similar device as well as a newer phone; familiarity with iTunes and iPhone apps (due to a high ownership of iPhones); the ability to access wireless, take photos, send text (and some have the ability record video and audio, and video conference on a mobile device); the ability to use Web 2.0 applications to create accounts, connect with others, communicate in web spaces, indicate 'liking' and rating; little interest in virtual worlds; and infrastructure needs on campus, such as easy and reliable access to wireless and power to charge their devices.
The iPortfolio (see Figure 2) is an online space with tabs where users can collaborate on, create, share, and manage information such as:
Figure 3: The iPortfolio Mobile app enables users to upload tagged photos, video and audio
This data-driven policy shift coincides with the affordances of Web 2.0 tools which businesses increasingly use to identify consumer patterns for strategic marketing and deployment of resources (Coates, 2010). Similarly, educational institutions are adopting learning analytics, likely to be mainstream in four to five years (Johnson, Smith et al. 2011) to gather, aggregate and report learner information. These data tools for learning analytics - also known as academic analytics (Siemens & Long 2011) - have become a selling point for learning management systems (Kolowich, 2010). While some institutions use data tools for marketing, recruitment and retention, the potential for growth is in learner-centric and co-curricular analytics that empower learners to take greater responsibility for their personal and professional success (Norris, Baer et al. 2008). Many agree that current available data indicators - such as grades and completion rates - do not provide useable evidence in terms of learning achievements and employability (Goldstein, 2005; Norris, Baer et al. 2008). In Australian universities, there has been increased focus on building in-house analytics systems drawing on internal and national data sets (Scott, 2010; Towers, Alderman et al. 2010). Australian institutions have also designed and implemented their own employability surveys, in the absence of national data sets, to inform quality reviews of degree programs (Walker, 2009; Oliver, Hunt et al. 2010).
Measuring learning tends to produce quantitative data (Yorke, 2008) which is easily used in analytics systems and dashboards. Qualitative evidence of learning is traditionally housed in student portfolio systems, uptake of which has been increasing in recent years (Hallam, Harper et al. 2008; Joint Information Systems Committee, 2008; Hallam, Harper et al. 2009; Chen & Light, 2010; Hallam, Harper et al. 2010; Oliver, 2010). Emerging e-portfolio systems (or sometimes systems which incorporate e-portfolios) include mechanisms for self-management of learning that can feed into institutional learning analytics:
The future world of action analytics will be highly learner-centric. Learners at all stages will have a greater array of information, choices, and value propositions available to them. ... . Learners will have greater opportunities to shape their learning experiences and share responsibility for their readiness and success. ... Moreover, learners will need to be more assertive in taking responsibility for building their capacity to succeed. In the evolving workforce environment of the future, higher education transcripts seem totally inadequate for meeting the needs of learners, teachers, parents, and employers. Eventually, portable, transportable, and fungible portfolios for learners will deploy action analytics at a personal level (Norris, Baer et al. 2008).Course quality review at Curtin includes manually synthesising evidence from internal and national data sources to inform strengths and areas for improvement (Jones & Oliver 2008; Oliver, 2010). One of the few Australian indicators of graduate skills is the Course Experience Questionnaire Generic Skills Scale. It asks new graduates to indicate their level of agreement with the extent to which their course enabled them to enhance a limited range of generic skills (Coates, 2010). No such measure exists for Curtin students as their course progresses. For this reason, and to encourage students to reflect on and assess their own achievement of learning, the iPortfolio incorporates a self-rating tool based on the graduate attributes (see Figure 2). The My Ratings tab enables self-assessment of attainment of the graduate attributes, enabling the owner to collate evidence and reflections and assign themselves an overall star-rating based on Dreyfus and Dreyfus' Five-Stage Model of Adult Skill Acquisition (Dreyfus, 2004). The dynamic and aggregated results are available to the user: as shown in Figure 4, the student can see a radar graph showing their self-rating in comparison with the aggregated ratings of their invited assessors (these could include peers, mentors, industry contacts, and so on).
Figure 4: The iPortfolio My Ratings tab shows a radar graph comparing
students' self-rating with aggregated ratings of invited others
Harvesting these data at course level provides a snapshot of students' views of their learning to date and this in turn can inform course quality review.
Figure 5: Current and potential aspects of the iPortfolio overlayed on the
Assurance of Learning for Graduate Employability framework
Figure 5 shows potential and implemented features of the iPortfolio, overlayed on the Assurance of Learning for Graduate Employability framework. They seek to capitalise on known drivers such as student motivation to gain employment (Oliver 2008), students' ICT behaviours as an indicator of adoptability, and the potential for analytics, as described in this paper. The figure shows the potential for integration with other curriculum tools in development at Curtin; their addition have the potential to contribute to enhancing the iPortfolio as a self-managed learning environment:
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Jones, S. & Oliver, B. (2008). 360-degree feedback on courses: Needs analysis for comprehensive course review. Australian Universities Quality Forum 2008, Canberra. http://c2010.curtin.edu.au/local/docs/Proceedings_of_AUQF2008.pdf
Kennedy, G. E., Judd, T. S., Churchward, A., Gray, K. & Krause, K.-L. (2008). First year students' experiences with technology: Are they really digital natives? Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 24(1), 108-122. http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/ajet24/kennedy.html
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|1. What is your sex?||Male; Female|
|2. What is your first language?||English, African languages, Cantonese, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Indonesian, Japanese, Malay, Mandarin, Other|
|3. What is your age group?||Under 20; 20-25; 26-35; Over 35|
|4. What campus are you mainly studying at?||Bentley; Curtin Sarawak; Curtin Singapore; Curtin Sydney; Graduate Business School Perth; Regional WA|
|5. Which faculty are you enrolled in?||Curtin Business School; Health Sciences; Humanities/Centre for Aboriginal Studies; Science and Engineering|
|6. Your Course: are you||Undergraduate; Postgraduate course work; Postgraduate research (PhD or Masters by Thesis)|
|7. Are you currently enrolled?||Full Time; Part Time|
|8. Do you usually study||In face to face classes on campus; In online mode|
|9. How much of your course have you completed so far?||None, I am commencing; Up to about half; About three quarters; Most, completing soon|
B. Your off-campus access to the Internet
|10. Do you have access to the Internet outside University?||No; Yes|
|11. If yes, who is your Internet Service Provider (ISP)?||3; AAPT; iiNet; Optus; Telstra; Virgin; Vodafone; Westnet; Other:|
|12. If yes, is your Internet access mainly||Dial up; Broadband cable; Broadband wireless; Broadband modem (mobile device with USB plugin); Other|
C. Your portable computers: Portable computers come in many shapes and sizes these days: they include laptops (similar power to a desktop and able to run full versions of most software), netbooks (smaller devices with wireless access, often run cut-down versions of software), tablets (similar to laptops and netbooks, but usually touchscreen) and so on.
|13. Do you have a portable computer (that is, a laptop, netbook, tablet or similar)?||No; Yes|
|14. If yes, what brand is it?||Acer; Apple Mac; Asus; Compaq; Dell; HP; IBM; LG; NEC; Samsung; Sony; Toshiba; Unknown or Other|
|15. If yes, do you bring it to campus?||Frequently; Occasionally; Rarely; Never|
|16. If you bring your device to campus do you normally wish or need to: use wireless on the device; recharge your device||Yes; No|
|17. Regardless of what you have now, do you plan to buy or upgrade a portable computer (laptop, netbook, tablet or similar) in the next 12 months?||No; Yes|
|18. If yes, what brand do you plan to buy?||Acer; Apple Mac; Asus; Compaq; Dell; HP; IBM; LG; NEC; Samsung; Sony; Toshiba; Unknown or Other|
D. Your mobile phone
|19. Do you have a mobile phone?||No; Yes|
|20. If yes, is it a:||iPhone; BlackBerry; HTC; LG; Motorola; Nokia; Samsung; Siemens; Sony Ericsson; Unknown or Other|
|21. If yes, do you use it to: Access webpages; Access wireless; Listen to music and audio files; Watch movies; Take photos; Make videos; Record audio; Video conference (eg Skype video); Send and receive SMS; Send and receive MMS; Send and receive instant messages (Messenger, Yahoo etc)||No, my phone can't do this; No, my phone does this but I don't use it; Yes, occasionally; Yes, frequently|
|22. Who is your mobile phone provider?||Telstra; Optus; Vodafone; Virgin; 3; Other:|
|23. Do you plan to buy or upgrade your mobile phone within the next year?||No; Yes|
|24. If yes, do you intend to purchase||iPhone, BlackBerry; HTC; LG; Motorola; Nokia; Samsung; Siemens; Sony Ericsson; Other|
E. Your use of social networking
|25. Do you use following social networking sites: Facebook; Twitter; MySpace; LinkedIn; Second Life; Flickr; Friendster; Other||Never; Rarely; Occasionally; Frequently|
F. What else?
|26. What devices or online tools (if any) would enable you to have a richer student learning experience at Curtin?||[free text]|
|27. What improvements (if any) to Curtin's internet and network services can you suggest that would enhance your learning experience?||[free text]|
|28. Would you like to make any further comments?||[free text]|
|Authors: Professor Beverley Oliver, Director|
Office of Assessment Teaching and Learning, Curtin University
GPO Box U1987 Perth, Western Australia 6845
Email: email@example.com Web: http://otl.curtin.edu.au/about/staff/oliver.cfm
Barbara Whelan, Office of Assessment Teaching and Learning, Curtin University
GPO Box U1987 Perth, Western Australia 6845. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please cite as: Oliver, B. & Whelan, B. (2011). Designing an e-portfolio for assurance of learning focusing on adoptability and learning analytics. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 27(6), 1026-1041. http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/ajet27/oliver.html