On Learning Management Systems and ePortfolios

The University of Guelph has a 10 year history of using (in some shape or form) Desire2Learn as a Learning Management System. For the past year, D2L has been a campus-wide tool for all websites for distance education and face-to-face offerings. If you’re into this type of thing, you can read about the details of the migration, as well as the official rationale for the decision.

With the move to a campus-wide solution, came an increase interest and activity in the use of ePortfolios. Guelph has a long history of scholarship and initiatives with (e)portfolios. Some of them:

In June of this year, we facilitated a series of focus groups on the use of ePortfolios to gather feedback on current use and planned use to help guide what needs to be in place to support these initiatives.

So, all that said, what I wanted to talk to you about was this:

Some of the feedback we’ve received from students and instructors is that there is a fair amount of confusion about the connections between the CourseLink (D2L) ePortfolio and the (D2L) Learning Management System tools (both where they are linked and where they are separate). Overwhelmingly, there is a perception that the eP is a course-level-tool only and not a user-level-tool. As we’ve witnessed, the eP can (and has been) effectively incorporated into course design. The struggle, I guess is the promotion of the tool for use outside of formal assessment and/or across courses.

Let’s set aside (for now) the real hurdles that a majority of students will not use a tool unless it a) is going to be graded and/or b) can see the usefulness of the tool for advancement (career advancement, graduate studies application, etc.) Let’s assume that can and will be…hurdled.

What I’m chiefly interested in (now) is how we can present the eP as “linked but separate” from the course-based LMS tools. Do we need a separate entry point for users to access the tool? Where are the links? Do we need to build stand-alone, separately branded web apps to allow users to upload material? Can the links be made so that when I post/upload material to my other networks (Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, etc.) I can cross-post to my ePortfolio (please)?

Curious to hear what other institutions are doing/thinking about here.

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