Educause Learning Initiatives (ELI)

by John Ottenhoff, Associated Colleges of the Midwest

Our friends at Educause continue to try to provide some content about teaching and learning with technology. The latest ELI (Educause Learning Initiative) resources are a mixed bag. A two-page pdf “7 Things You Should Know About Wikis” might work as a quick cheat-sheet for the harrassed academic executive wanting to appear knowledgable when talking with techies about the Latest Thing. But it’s not going to help many faculty members looking for real-world ideas about teaching with wikis. A sample nugget: “The possibilities for using wikis as the platform for collaborative projects are limited only by one’s imagination and time.”

On the other hand, an “Overview of E-portfolios” by George Lorenzo and John Ittelson is a thorough and well-illustrated report about student, faculty, and institutional electronic portfolios. This “white paper” addresses a full range of issues and could well provide a foundation for institutional discussions about implementing some form of e-portfolio; looking at student e-portfolios, for instance, the authors ask good basic questions:

  • should an e-portfolio be an official record of a student’s work?
  • how long should an e-portfolio remain at an institution after the student graduates?
  • who owns the e-portfolio?
  • how are e-portfoilios evaluated in a manner that is both valid and reliable?
  • how can an institution encourage critical reflection in the design and use of e-portfolios?

These, of course, are just good questions. Whether or not Educause, the authors, or Academic Commons can prompt some good discussion about such questions is the real question.

The paper also includes links to some exemplary sites, including the Carnegie Foundation’s KEEP Toolkit for building portfolios, St. Olaf College’s Center for Integrative Study portfolios, and Portland State’s instutional site built with the open-source Zope. The white paper briefly considers “tool sets” for e-portfolios and mentions the Open Source Portfolio Initiative (OSPI). For faculty and administrators looking for more information about exemplary portfolios, the KEEP/OSP Case Studies Gallery is definitely worth checking out.

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