University of Tasmania (AUSTRALIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN11 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Pages: 1201-1207
ISBN: 978-84-615-0441-1
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 3rd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2011
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Three schools within the Faculty of Health Science at the University of Tasmania, Australia took part in an interdisciplinary academic collaboration with the aim to develop, implement and evaluate the e-portfolio experience of undergraduate nursing, medicine and pharmacy students. The Centre for the Advancement of Learning and Teaching was a key player in the andragogical integration of the e-portfolio into a demonstration unit within the Bachelor of Nursing program. PebblePad was the e-portfolio application that was used to support learning and teaching (L&T) activities associated with the project.

A cohort of over 500 students and 8 staff on four campuses in two states of Australia piloted use of the tool whilst on undertaking work integrated learning during 2010. Both staff and students were new to the use of e-portfolios so simplicity was paramount. Multiple L&T approaches were employed to ensure students and staff were well supported in their use of the new technology.

The development of reflective practice is part of each discipline’s expected student learning outcomes. Reflective practice linked to professional competencies, has historically underpinned assessment and the PebblePad application offered a new way to encourage and assess this competency. Reflection is one of the strengths of the design of the PebblePad e-portfolio that is embedded into its design, making it a valuable tool for use with students. The tool also facilitated the integration of knowledge and skills, and provided opportunities for interaction peer-to-peer and between staff and students. The use of PebblePad was an innovation for achieving these L&T outcomes. Additionally, the collaborators recognised there was a need for access to comprehensive resources and support for students and staff with an aim of developing a community of practice beyond the project leaders.

The use of an e-portfolio has further benefit that students may also use it to showcase evidence of their capabilities to teachers, prospective employers and other interested parties. The use of an e-portfolio may enhance the development and evidence of life-long learning for the future and assist with meeting the newly introduced National requirements for annual professional registration for nursing, medical and pharmacy practitioners in Australia.

The key findings of the evaluation provided valuable lessons for others planning to embed the use of digital technology into their curricula. Positive findings included students enjoying using the blog tool for reflection; it enabled students to feel connected to peers; and the use of e-portfolios supported their integration of knowledge and skills. The most significant weakness of the implementation methodology was timing. The time frame for introducing the new technology was considered too short; staff and students needed to feel comfortable using the technology before using it for assessment purposes; and sufficient training for staff and students was required. In addition, to discussing the findings, this paper will reflect on the other bonuses of collaborative cross-discipline effort in each of the Schools of Nursing, Medicine and Pharmacy at a regional university when integrating new technology into the learning and teaching setting.
E-portfolio, interdisciplinary, nursing, learning and teaching, undergraduate students.