Technology and Usability

One of ten Digital Ethics in ePortfolios Principles

Technology must be equitably available, usable, and supported for all students, educators, and staff engaged in ePortfolio work.

Rationale

An inclusive ePortfolio program provides opportunities to create ePortfolios using institutional resources so that all stakeholders have equal access. Likewise, ePortfolio software should allow for creation and viewing across any device, browser, and operating system.

Stylized yhree interlocking gears

Strategies for applying this principle include…

  • Designing ePortfolio assignments to accommodate students’ varied technology and internet access as well as varied technology skill levels.
  • Selecting ePortfolio tools based on cross-platform compatibility and ease of use in order to ensure that no stakeholder is excluded from ePortfolio work because they need a specific device for viewing, listening, downloading, embedding, and sharing.
  • Ensuring that campus facilities and technology support are readily accessible to account for students’ diverse schedules.
  • Providing students and educators with tutorials and technical support.
  • Making an institutional commitment (funding, space, staff, and other resources) appropriate to the scope and depth of ePortfolio projects.
  • Ensuring that external audiences can access and view the ePortfolio with minimal additional steps.

Scenarios

Scenario #1 (Available)

You are a part-time student attending courses after your normal work hours. As part of your capstone course, you are asked to create an ePortfolio. Although you have a desktop computer at work, know that some desktop computers are available to you at the library, and have an iPad and a smartphone, you do not have access to a computer at your home. Moreover, the library has limited hours. When you talk to the professor after class and explain this situation, they already have a plan in place to meet your needs.

The professor has technical support resources from the ePortfolio platform provider specifically tailored to people using a tablet or smartphone and the out-of-class activities have also taken a variety of devices into account. Moreover, your professor has a list of local libraries with weekend and extended night hours that you can use to work on the ePortfolio and directions for checking out hardware to take home from the university library. In addition to the professor’s on-campus office hours during the day, they also offer options for distance participation through web or phone conferencing. You are relieved that your educator has already considered your situation and are excited to begin the ePortfolio.

Scenario #2 (Usable)

You are a recent graduate on the job market and choose to include your ePortfolio link on your résumé. You designed your ePortfolio to be viewed on a desktop computer but now imagine that your professional audience will be viewing the site on their mobile devices. You reach out to your former educator to see how you can begin revising the ePortfolio to be effective across platforms.

Your educator sends you to a support page on the platform provider’s website that walks you through design tips for tablet and smartphone viewing and shows you how you can preview the design on different screen sizes. You redesign your ePortfolio with these tips in mind. Then, you reach out to friends and ask them to practice viewing the site on their phones and tablets so that you can troubleshoot any additional errors. When you are sure that the design is functional and professional looking, you distribute the link to potential employers.

Scenario #3 (Supported)

You are an educator who has asked your students to complete an ePortfolio as part of a capstone course. Students have already selected artifacts from their learning and co-curricular experiences to include in the ePortfolio, but they have not yet begun creating the actual site. You distribute a survey to students to identify how comfortable they are using digital devices, if they have used the ePortfolio platform before, and how familiar they are with ePortfolios as a genre.

Based on the survey responses, you provide students with the technical knowledge needed in the ePortfolio creation process, put them in contact with other campus resources that offer relevant support, and create classroom space and time for students to share peer knowledge and ask each other questions across a learning community.

You make a note to discuss scaffolding ePortfolio instruction throughout the curriculum at the next department meeting.

Resources

Bose, D., & Pakala, K. (2015). Use of mobile learning strategies and devices for e-portfolio content creation in an engineering thermodynamics and fluid mechanics classes: Student perceptions. 2015 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, 1–26. http://dx.doi.org/10.18260/p.24978

Chen, B., & deNoyelles, A. (2013). Exploring students’ mobile learning practices in higher education. EDUCAUSE Review. https://er.educause.edu/articles/2013/10/exploring-students-mobile-learning-practices-in-higher-education

Galanek, J. D., Gierdowski, D. C., & Brooks, D. C. (2018). ECAR study of undergraduate students and information technology, 2018 (p. 47) [Research report]. EDUCAUSE. https://www.educause.edu/ecar/research-publications/ecar-study-of-undergraduate-students-and-information-technology/2018/introduction-and-key-findings

Giorgini, F. (2010). An interoperable ePortfolio tool for all. In M. Wolpers, P. A. Kirschner, M. Scheffel, S. Lindstaedt, & V. Dimitrova (Eds.), Sustaining TEL: From innovation to learning and practice (pp. 500–505). Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-16020-2_44

Siegfried, B. (2011). Enhanced student technology support with cross-platform mobile apps. Proceedings of the 39th Annual ACM SIGUCCS Conference on User Services, 31–34. https://doi.org/10.1145/2070364.2070373