The Project: Phase One – Brainstorm!

!! Warning – You Are Entering A Brainstorm Zone !!

I found this perfect image on Breakaway Digital but I cannot figure out its permissions. Please let me know if I should not use it and I will remove it.

One of the assignments that we have for the Assessment Leadership Academy I am participating in is to create and enact a project at our institution that deals with an assessment issue. Some projects that the last group of ALA participants did include:

  • Developing pilot capstone assessment courses at a community college
  • Conducting an assessment of the quality and impact of program review and revise the process based on findings
  • Developing a course-embedded assessment system at two institutions (collaborative project for two participants)

Though I have lots of projects that I am responsible for in my position (the Dean of Assessment one, that is) and thus work on every day, I’m excited about the opportunity to try something new, to integrate and apply my new learning about teaching/learning/assessment (and leadership), and to help my institution move forward with something important.

So what is this something? There are so many things … but one stands out to me based on many conversations with my colleagues and my own interest for our PLA program: ePortfolios.

We don’t have one. Many of our academic departments say they want one, for many reasons (and, frankly, for no clear reasons, depending on the department). Most of us (myself included) don’t know much if anything about them (though I’ve done a lot of reading on ePortfolios as well as product demos and conference workshops in the last 6-9 months, I still feel like I only understand the tip of the ePortfolio iceberg). Thus, we have a lot of learnin’ to do before we just go out and get one and plug it in and start using it (the latter is how we’ve often done things in the past; I seek to change this practice where assessment is concerned).

So my idea is to create a Faculty Learning Community (in the same vein as FLCs discussed by Driscoll and Wood, 2007) to learn about ePortfolios.

Here’s a brain dump of my initial thoughts for what this could look like:

  • Invite all faculty to participate, including adjuncts
  • This would not be a committee or task group — it would be a learning community
  • Thus, as a community, we would co-develop our desired learning outcomes, learning processes, as well as establish our own guidelines for working with each other in a learning community
  • Per the fabulous suggestion of one of my colleagues, it would be beneficial to spend the first session or two just learning about faculty learning communities before we jump into learning about ePortfolios
  • I would request a commitment of no more than 4 hours per month — 2 hours for reading or other projects; 2 hours to community conversation once a month — to honor people’s time and other commitments
  • I would facilitate the process (per the community’s determined outcomes and actions) to take the time burden off other participants; I would be a co-learner, but could focus some of my time on facilitating the process, gathering materials, doing research, etc.
  • We could use a blog / website / wiki / MyMarylhurst / Google site / Moodle site or web page as a group ePortfolio (of sorts) (oh – or maybe a Mahara test site) to help us with our work so that we can make our own learning visible and so that we can organize our work and materials
  • We could use some funds in my department budget to bring some ePortfolio experts to us; to resource our learning (books, for example); or to go to a conference. I might also see if there’s grant funding for this somewhere.

I am excited about this idea, and I would hope for good participation from several of my colleagues (the main factor may be time). I’d also like it to be a model of a process — the learning community part, that is — for other teaching/learning/assessment topics we’d want to learn about here as a faculty.

I’d love feedback on this idea as this is really only my initial thinking about it and open to lots of revision. Please feel free to share your thoughts. Specifically, I’d like to know: What would make this interesting or meaningful for participants? What would motivate engagement and participation?

Onward to Phase Two! (Ummm….what was that again?)


2 thoughts on “The Project: Phase One – Brainstorm!

  1. Melanie,
    This sounds like a wonderful project and something that is timely and very worthwhile. It has the potential for being just what our Marylhurst Faculty and PLA program could use so it interests me very much! I have two thoughts:

    1) Although it might be difficult, it would make it more interesting and meaningful for me if interested parties could first meet face-to-face and discuss faculty learning communities in general, how we want to go about becoming one, the overall project, the process and our commitment.

    2) What would motivate my engagement and participation is after we research ePortfolios and learn about the variety of approaches, we have the opportunity to develop a scaffolding for one that is relevant and practical to our specific teaching.

    I’m excited!
    ~Christine Caton

  2. Thank you Christine. This is helpful!

    I imagine this a face-to-face community, though if we do have people who want to participate and can’t come to campus, we could work with technology to include them (Skype or something).

    I’m also truly interested in thinking about how a faculty learning community model could work in our culture, and what it might be able to do to foster more true collaboration and deeper learning about our practice.

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