MOBILE (MObile-Based Innovation, Learning & Eportfolios) is a collaborative project proposal by the the University of Leicester, University of Ulster and Aston University. The project proposed to implement Work Based Learning multimedia eportfolios. The proposal stated that traditional text based eportfolios are tine consuming to produce and that students do not really engage with the process. MOBILE would enable students to record and reflect upon their work placements using multimedia, in the form of video recordings on mobile phones or webcams, photographs and sound files.

The process of relfection and feedback for MOBILE project

This picture shows the process of how students on work placements would carry out reflection, by recording videos on mobile phones, embedding them in their eportfolio, academics would then assess and feedback on the videos by commenting on the eportfolio.

The project would explore the following research questions:

  • Do students engage with this method of reflection?
  • Does digital media facilitate deep critical thinking?
  • What are the most effective technologies and platforms for these types of eportfolios?
  • How do you assess Work Based Learning and can it be constructed into a framework?

The project would also explore suitable eportfolio platforms with each of the institutions using something different

  • Ulster: VLE based in WebCT
  • Leicester: open cloud solution, WordPress blogs
  • Aston: a commercial solution, Pebble Pad

Furthermore the project is a practical one, as eash of the institutions have a partner teaching course that are willing to pilot the scheme.

The proposed outputs from the project would be

  • case studies of the student that engaged with the project
  • OER resources and framework models of how the produce the eportfolios
  • an assessment framework to assess eportfolio for WBL to be use across HE

This project was submitted to JISC under call Circular 4/08: Learning and Teaching Innovation Grants, bidding for £40k, the majority of which would be spent on a researcher. The bid got to the second round, for which Richard Mendez and I had to travel to Belfast (Ulster) to present to JISC with Ulster colleagues Douglas McCulloch and Peter Green. For the presentation we use Elluminate (which came with it’s issues, but will reflect upon that later).

However what was interesting about the presentation were the questions put to us by the panel members. In preparation for the presentation we came up with a series of possible question we could get asked, however most of these focussed on the research. E.g.:

  • what are your research questions?
  • what are the main outputs of the project?
  • what data will you record and how will it be used?
  • what impact will this have on the HE sector?

However after usual budgetary and project management questions, all of the panels question where focused on the technology. Concentrating on training students and more surprisingly on the hosting/storage of video files. This came as somewhat of a surprise as video hosting isn’t really an issue when services like YouTube. Furthermore one of the panel said:

“I really like this project, but what is stopping me implementing this at my institution now. The technology is fairly basic”

The answers we gave to these questions illustrated this point, in that the technology is just an enabler and the focus of the project is on the research and outputs like the assessment framework. Nevertheless, this was obviously not what JISC wanted to hear as they didn’t fund the project. No feedback has been received as yet, so will have to see what they say.

As for the future, there were some suggestion in the project team the methodology could still be rolled out without research. But i think to get the full impact of the project the research is important, thus further funding may be sort after.

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