Can e-Portfolio Usage on Campus Grow Organically? One University’s Experience
Walsh needed to find better ways to support student success, collect and report assessment data, and improve faculty tenure and promotion services. Once they identified e-portfolios as the ideal means to accomplish these goals, the university needed a partner to achieve them.
Following a failed experiment with another e-portfolio solution, Walsh sought a partner who would provide both an agile system and depth of expertise with implementation. The university wanted to build faculty buy-in to e-portfolios as a way to support students’ success, while also implementing a system to serve other critical needs: collecting and reporting student data for accreditation purposes, and piloting an online system for faculty tenure and promotion. The need to address accreditation was particularly urgent after the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) placed Walsh’s General Education program on “urgent rotation” status in 2010.
- The assessment management system provides a holistic, integrated approach that meets needs at the student, faculty, and institutional levels.
- Implementation support services demonstrated outstanding depth of expertise, both with the technology and with their knowledge of the higher education landscape.
- The “cultural fit” and minimal administrative support required for adoption allowed the e-Portfolio Coordinator to quickly hand off control to division-level faculty.
The ability to decentralize control was a key factor in the university’s experiment with an “organic” model of e-portfolio adoption. In this model, Walsh’s e-Portfolio Coordinator presented the tools and allowed interested faculty to self-identify, rather than issue top-down mandates for implementation. In light of the highly participatory open process Walsh used to select a provider, a strong “cultural fit” was also critical for successful implementation. To this end, faculty have appreciated both the depth of expertise demonstrated by Taskstream staff as well as the nature of their interactions with them. Unlike many providers, Taskstream did not “overpromise” and has consistently engaged faculty with both candor and integrity.
“Walsh is committed to students mastering the competencies and finding success in the jobs market. Many of the students in our most successful programs are truly excited about their e-portfolios as tools to help them achieve these goals.”
Since implementing Taskstream during the 2010-2011 academic year, Walsh has been successful with its “organic” model of e-portfolio adoption, the effective use of a data system, and the launch of a faculty tenure and promotion pilot. To date, many Walsh programs have adopted the e-portfolio, including Business, Physical Therapy, Nursing, Counseling, Education, Communications, and English. The students in these programs are expressing great enthusiasm about how their e-portfolios will support their post-graduate professional activities. Finally, after using Taskstream’s assessment management system to provide data demonstrating coherence across its six student learning outcomes, Walsh’s General Education program has been removed from the HLC’s “urgent rotation” status.