Electronic portfolios and personalised learning environments: opportunities and challenges in using online technology in a new social work programme
Hughes, M, Thompson, L & Gallagher, H 2013, 'Electronic portfolios and personalised learning environments: opportunities and challenges in using online technology in a new social work programme', paper presented to Positive practice in hard times: social work fights back: 15th UK Joint Social Work Education Conference and 7th UK Social Work Research Conference, University of London, Surrey, UK, 10-12 July.
This presentation examines the rationale for embedding the recently released, online technology, Pebble+, in the curriculum of a new Master of Social Work (Professional Qualifying) degree in Australia. This technology has been adopted for two purposes. First, it provides each student with a personalised online learning environment, where they can access and interact with the bulk of the distance education course material, as well as create their own resources (known as assets) to facilitate their learning and demonstrate their emerging capabilities in social work. Second, the technology is used to generate an electronic portfolio, drawing on the assets students have created, for presentation to potential field supervisors and employers. The benefits of using portfolios, and now electronic portfolios, have been well recognised in social work education (Fitch et al., 2008; Graham & Megarry, 2005; Rosegrant Alvarez & Moxley, 2004). Yet as technology advances, their potential outstrips the initial, relatively modest goals, of producing summative documents. This presentation contributes to the literature by arguing that Pebble+ provides even greater opportunities than its forerunner, PebblePad (as evaluated by Halstead & Wheeler, 2009), for supporting a social constructivist pedagogy and facilitating critically reflective and deep-level learning. The presentation includes a demonstration of how the technology is used, and a reflection on the challenges involved in the implementation of the initiative, which included overcoming some technical difficulties and dispelling anxieties about using online technology.