August 4, 2015 mgoudz

Reflections on the 2015 AAEEBL Conference

By: Mike Goudzwaard and Ashley Kehoe

Ashley and Mike recently attended the 2015 Association for Authentic Experiential Evidence Based Learning (AAEEBL) conference and had the opportunity to kick off the conference by giving 2 consecutive Ignite Talks. AAEEBL‘s goal is “to promote portfolio learning as a major way to transform higher education.” The Ignite Model invites presenters to “share their personal and professional passions, using 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds for a total of just five minutes.” The following are their reflections on the Ignite experience and the AAEEBL conference overall.

Thinking Outside of the ePortfolio

Ignited By: Ashley Kehoe

Ashley Kehoe

This was my 4th annual AAEEBL conference, and it was also the first time I felt the ePortfolio community forces shifting in significant, promising ways. For anyone unfamiliar, an ePortfolio is a digital collection of multi-modal evidence of student learning curated for a specific purpose. Sometimes ePortfolios are designed and implemented at the course or co-curricular program level to foster student learning, and other times at the institutional level for assessment initiatives. Since starting to work with ePortfolios as a strategy for facilitating student reflection, learning, and professional development about 5 years ago – my goal has been to refocus the conversation on learning vs. assessment and on pedagogy vs. technology. Through AAEEBL, I’ve connected with several forward thinking colleagues who share my vision of ePortfolios as transformative, but also as part of a larger conversation about evidence, experience, and engagement.

Since AAEEBL is known as the unofficial ePortfolio community of practice, the purpose of my Ignite Talk was to inspire us to go beyond ePortfolios and recognize the range of disruptive, innovative pedagogical advances happening in education right now. In particular, I encouraged the ePortfolio community to consider the potential impact of Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs), social media, and digital badges on student learning and development. I also made connections between portfolio learning and how learning is constructed in these other models, to demonstrate the potential for synergy among our segmented communities of practice. As Instructional Designers at Dartmouth, we have the opportunity to work with faculty and campus/community partners to pilot all kinds of innovative teaching and learning strategies. My experience here has given me perspective beyond ePortfolios, and I hope we continue to intentionally explore these intersections going forward.

The Ignite Talk was actually a form of disruption and innovation in itself. Because of the highly visual and auto-advancing elements of the presentation, I was forced to completely adapt my design and delivery styles. Although it was slightly unnerving to present in this format at first, I realized after that the model was actually a sort of pedagogical decision made by the AAEEBL conference program committee to shift from conventional stand-and-deliver sessions to a more energetic, engaging format. This made me wonder, how can we make decisions in our teaching to inspire innovation in our students and even in ourselves? I encourage educators to give the Ignite Talk format a shot, and see what the experience inspires!

Open Badges: Evidence Based Learning in Action

Ignited By: Mike Goudzwaard

The Ignite format prompts a presenter and audience to come together to explore an idea in 5 minutes. Ashley opened the Ignite lineup and challenged a packed room to, “Think beyond the ePortfolio.”
The universal lament of a first-time Ignite presenter, “this is tougher than I thought.” It’s true, a short form can take more work and practice than a long form talk. A good Igniter tells a story, asks questions, and invite further dialogue in five minutes all with stunning visual slides whizzing behind her head every 15 seconds. This takes practice, guts, and the willingness to not take yourself too seriously.
Ashley’s last slide flashed on the screen. That was my cue for our choreographed high-five, and a 15 second transition. Now I was up.

I opened with the challenge, “How might we apply open badges to create and evidence-based, collaborative, learner-centered narrative for courses and life-long learning?” If you’re not a gamer, girl scout, or online learner, let me briefly explain badges. An open badge is a digital and visual representation of a skill or experience. Baked into the badge is who issued the badge, the criteria, and often a link to evidence. Recall that one of the “E”s in AAEEBL stands for evidence-based. Badges and portfolios are natural partners. To learn more about open badges, watch the MacArthur Foundation’s, What is a Badge (3:36).

Badges can build learning tracks within a course. In a digital media course one learning outcome might be, “Demonstrate the video production process through a short film project.” Small badges for attending a workshop in iMovie, writing a script, editing a video, and providing peer feedback could all lead to the video production badge – level 1.  These small badges provide waypoints and big badge provides a clear endpoint. Most courses have multiple learning objectives or learning tracks running in parallel.

In a badge system, students can challenge-by-choice for optional tasks by, going deeper into their learning process by building and annotating a learning timeline. One Dartmouth student who experienced course-level badging reflected:

Having completion-minded assignments was an enormous enhancement to the effectiveness of the class. Grading to a rubric removes stress for the student in terms of scoring expectations, but also demands a higher level of knowledge and proficiency in order to perform well.

We know that students learn in many spheres of their lives. Badges can visualize the learning beyond the course in other areas of student life, such as:

  • completing professional development training through a career center
  • being a member of an athletic team
  • leading trips through the outing club
  • working in a professional internships
  • volunteering through a service organization
  • taking a MOOC
The five minutes flew by and it was my turn to pass the torch to the next Igniter. Opening a conference with short-form talks seeds ten ideas and provided a entry points for both newcomers and veterans.
What would you say, in 5 minutes and 20 slides?

Looking Back, Looking Forward:

 Futuring By: Mike Goudzwaard and Ashley Kehoe
As both a newcomer and and veteran to the AAEEBL community we tried to soak up the past, present, and future of ePortfolios. After the keynotes, workshops, and dinner conversations, here is where we think portfolios are headed:
  • Drop the “e” from “ePortfolio”: ePortfolio implies a software service, whereas portfolio emphasizes the process of curation, reflection, and sharing evidence of learning. Next year we will be talking about Domain of Ones Own, learning dashboards, and learning timelines.
  • We will continue to explore open badges in the context of evidence-based learning and endorsed evidence. Badges and portfolios will blend for evidence endorsement and platform-agnostic collections.
  • Learner analytics will continue to be part of the authentic assessment conversation. We may even find ways for students to view, reflect, and own their analytics data.