Getting the most out of electronic portfolios: pedagogy and benefits

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Gallagher, H, Thompson, L, Hughes, M 2015, 'Getting the most out of electronic portfolios: Pedagogy and benefits', Advances in Social Work and Welfare Education, vol. 17, no. 2, pp. 39-54.

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The benefits of using electronic portfolios (e-portfolios) in social work education have been well recognised. Yet, as technology advances, their potential outstrips the initial, relatively modest goals of producing summative documents. The latest version of PebblePad facilitates the creation of a personalised online learning environment - one product of which can be an e-portfolio - that facilitates a wide range of reflective learning activities. This conceptual article discusses the rationale for embedding such a learning environment and e-portfolio generator at the core of a new Master of Social Work (Professional Qualifying) degree. In applying social constructivist pedagogy, it explores how e-portfolio technology can support the construction of knowledge and meaning-making in a social environment, including the facilitation of skills in critical reflection. It is argued that this technology can enable collaborative learning and professional socialisation, build capacity to respond to complexity and uncertainty in practice situations, and help in making sense of, and articulating, a social work identity. Key challenges include a lack of empirical data supporting the use of this technology, adjusting to the requirements of employing new technology, and modifying staff workloads to reflect different modes of teaching and learning.

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