Monthly Archives: July 2016

Comparison between e-portfolio systems

I have tested a few e-portfolio systems. Based on my own idea of an effective e-portfolio system, the following structures was used to create sample e-portfolios.

  • Home page – or brag pag
  • About me – if needed
  • Add videos – ease of use
  • Add text and images – ease of use
  • Add tables – possible?
  • Add links and documents – link to document? or PDF can be read online in space
  • Add sections – add sections to pages / portfolios
  • Add mathematical symbols – for maths
  • Add slide show – possibilities
  • Extras – listed on one page with links to the extras – what extras are available on one page.

The following systems were used to create e-portfolios;

  • rCampus
  • Digication
  • Mahara
  • Pebblepad
  • Karuta
  • Taskstream
  • Chalk and Wire

My examples

r-Campus Mahara Chalk & Wire Pebblepad Task-


Licence/host Licence, host and cloud options Self-hosting Hosted Hosted option Hosted option
Pricing Cost organisation

Cost Students

FREE 22$, down to 12$ depending on amount of students that will use e-portfolios 20 pounds individual accounts

10 pounds / 1000 (bulk option)

20$-42$per student, staff FREE


Does not matter Big difference 1 hour after us No big difference
Assessment Rubrics Rubrics Rubrics


SIS Public API


Please check

Graded assessment

Blind assessment

Double blind assessment

Rubric assessment

Reporting comprehensive

Quick monitoring

LMS Integrated LMS Moodle


Sakai (?)

Integrate with LMs Integrates with Sakai Integrated LMS
Features See example See example See example See example

Templated for all extras

Can create own

See example
Support Have not contacted them Community I struggled to get access, their support people reacts quickly Best I have encountered

Interactive short videos for every feature

Quick responses

Free – include student support, institution does not have to worry about support
Turnitin No No YES YES No
Personalise Not free version Limited Yes Various options Various options
Comments Not in Portfolio Each page of ePortfolio Yes Side of pages

Comments on request, can switch off

Not in ePortfolio
Collaboration Discussions






Discussions Groups
Sharing Yes, via email as well Yes, via secure links as well Yes Via email


For assessment

Yes, via link as well
Workbook/easy e-portfolios None None None Can be created to guide the students throughout the year

Assessment easy and can follow their journey

Graded and rubric assessment

Afterwards Lifelong, can be free Can download Can be renewed Keep for life, free of charge, can edit afterwards
Feedback Rubrics Rubrics


Yes Comments

Feedback forms



More examples Chemistry


Examples Example Examples for a university shared with me

Kameron Giacchero

Kathryn Guertin-Davis

Cheri Boteilho

Sonja Taylor

Emily Ford

Demo Have not requested No On request to showcase assessment tools On request

To demonstrate the assessment tools as well

On request

To demonstrate the assessment tools as well

Overall Difficult to add images, have to Not for assessment and grading Assessment tool Assessment tool Assessment tool
Contact details None None Geoff Irvine Dr. John Couperthwaite

Ben Coulter

All systems could be used to create structured, multi-page e-portfolios. There are a number of important points to note, based on the review of the above systems:

  • Some e-portfolios only allow the sharing of links to videos, while others can be used to embed videos to create effective multimedia presentations.
  • The drag-and-drop functions of Mahara and Pebblepad provide an easy method to upload multimedia.
  • Mahara allows for comments on each page of an e-portfolio, a feature that can assist collaboration and assessment in various ways.
  • All systems could be used to create structured, multi-page e-portfolios, therefore it is suggested that the academics evaluate each of the systems based on their own requirements in order to identify an e-portfolio system to be implemented.

I have not tested the assessment tools since it is not possible if I am not an institution. However, Pebblepad, Taskstream and Chalk & Wire offer online demonstrations. I found it extremely worthwhile, therefore, I can recommend asking for online demonstrations.

The quality of the final products varied since not all of them can be regarded as multi-media presentations. Therefore, it is recommended that the final choice should not be based purely on assessment tools, but also on the quality of the multi-media presentations created to showcase achievement towards both subject specific outcomes and the critical cross-field outcomes all South African higher education should aspire to.



Understanding the efficiency of your teams

Social Network Analysis provides a method to understans the efficiency of your teams. It is both a theoretical perspective and a method to understand human behaviour. Jacob Moreno, is regarded as the father of Social Network Analysis. Although he was not the first researcher who studied the relationships between pairs of people, he was the first person to visualize the networks in which human beings are embedded to understand, predict and describe the influence of these networks on human behaviour.
Moreno used dots and lines to draw sociograms or visualizations of the networks. In one of the first studies he used a sociogram to understand the behaviour of babies (see figure 1).

                                               Figure 1

He used this sociogram (figure 1) to show that a type of hierarchy exists between babies. Some of the babies are situated on lower levels because they were not recognized by any other babies, while other babies are ranked higher due to the fact that they were recognized by more babies. In another study he looked at a football team to understand their behaviour (see figure 2).

                                               Figure 2
The red lines indicate the likes and the black ones the dislikes. Moreno urged the players to indicate whom they liked, and whom they did not like.  He used this sociogram (figure 2) to explain why the team might find it difficult to play as a team.  The full back (top middle, figure 2) received dislikes from four other people, indicating that they might find it difficult to play as a team. The centre (centre of figure 2) received seven likes, indicating that he might be able to captain the team because both forwards and backs liked him. This information is not available to organizations and coaches although the impact of these underlying social networks might have devastating influences on the outcomes of team sports and organizations.
I would like to explore the likes and dislikes of the current Springbok team (2012).  I think a sociogram might provide information to explain why the team does not perform. And I have certain ideas about my reasons for making this statement. Ruan Pienaar (current scrumhalf) was booed three or four seasons ago off the field (as flyhalf) by a pavilion of South African rugby supporters who knew that Morné Steyn had a better kicking track record. I think it might have been a terrible experience walkin off the field under such pressure. I also think that Ruan Pienaar might have very strong negative feelings towards Morné, don’t you agree? I have seen him kicking good balls away before he would pass it to Morné. And I have also seen him passing those balls when he played next to another flyhalf.  I have also seen him passing very bad balls to Morné – as if he needs to prove that Morné does not belong in the team. Therefore I think he will do anything in his power not to boost Morné Steyn’s performance on the field – even if the Springbok’s have to loose the game. And to my astonishment Morné was dropped from the team playing on 29 September on Loftus, Morné’s home grounds. To me it seems like the perfect punishment – out of Ruan’s perspective.  When I was still teaching, my friend and the 1st team hockey coach could not understand why her team lost a game they already had in the pocket. The Monday the girls told me why. The one wing refused to pass balls to the striker because she dared to look at her boyfriend!   This same scenario can be found in organizations as well. If I don’t like you, I will not do anything to help you to outperform me.  Problem is that the performance of the whole team relies often on the quality of a relationship between two players.  Therefore SocialNetwork Analysis might provide an effective tool to understand why teams underperform.

Social Network Analysis is not a new method or methodology, it has developed over a period of 80 years in a powerful tool to understand and predict human behaviour. It is just under-utilised to understand human behavior.

Prioritise your Gmail inbox

Are you also frustrated with a gmail inbox cluttered with emails?  And you do need to go through a pile of emails to find the right ones?

I have tried to solve that problem by having more than one gmail address, but in the process I have missed a few important emails. Until I have discovered gmail’s affordances. One of these is to prioritise your inbox.

  • Click on the gear (far right)

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 9.31.55 AM

  • Cllck on settings (instellings)
  • Click on inbox (Inkassie)

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 9.33.47 AM

  • Click on Inbox type and change to priority first

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 9.35.15 AM

  • Click on save settings
  • and enjoy!

Your inbox will first show important messages, and all other messages will be shown after a section break. You can also add more sections of important messages if you have created folders, and your life is sorted. Quick and easily.

Google uses machine learning to learn which messages are important, and which are not. It acts on signals to learn what you regard as important, so, this is how you can help Google to know what to be prioritised:

  • respond on important emails
  • use keywords in subject area and emails
  • Click on the important marker (star) next to messages

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 9.44.49 AM

  • If Google makes a mistake, click on the yellow importance marker next to the name of the sender to mark it as not important

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 9.44.59 AM

It made my life much easier, so I can start to use only one account. Or, maybe not. I will keep two. One to be shared with people I trust, and one to all other who might turn out to be sellers of private emails. That is the only explanation I have for receiving thousands or trash I do not even read, but wastes a lot of time when I have to delete them to get to the important stuff.





Use Google to spell check Afrikaans

You probably know that you can use Google to translate text. But, did you know that you can change the language of an individual document written in Afrikaans to remove red lines indicating spelling errors?

Follow these steps:

  • Open the document
  • Click on file (leêr) if you have changed language to Afrikaans
  • Click on language (just look at the use of Afrikaans in the screenshot) and chose Afrikaans

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 7.52.33 AM

And now you can use Afrikaans to create and edit documents.



Google in Afrikaans?


Google relies on machine learning to be Afrikaans as well. In order to assist Google in this regard, follow these steps to change the language of your drive to Afrikaans:

  • Click on the waffle next to your profile pic and click on Drive

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 7.32.19 AM

  • Click on settings (little gear far right beneath your profile pic) when you are in your drive

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 7.31.58 AM

  • Click on settings, under general, select languages, and click on Change language settings
  • Click on ADD ANOTHER LANGUAGE and type AFRIKAANS in the search box
  • Click on the arrow to change Afrikaans to the default language


Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 7.39.12 AM

Your drive will be Afrikaans!

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 7.41.04 AM


I am quite impressed with the way Afrikaans is used!



A Google a Day

A Google A Day may provide opportunities for fun in the classroom file students are improving their search skills.

Screen Shot 2016-07-09 at 9.26.21 PM

You get three questions, and have to solve it as quickly as possible. The Google page opens so that you can search for the right answers. As soon as you have typed in the correct answer, you may attempt to answer the following question. The clock is ticking, so you loose points when you snooze.

Screen Shot 2016-07-09 at 9.28.32 PM

I believe this can be an effective way to train students in improving their searching skills.



Integrating ePortfolios to develop learning strategies in ODeL settings

In trying to move away from once-off summative assessment, the University of South Africa decided to integrate ePortfolios as method for alternative assessment. In my presentation yesterday at the Siyaphumelela Conference of the South African Institute for Distance Education, I discussed my views on how ePortfolios can be integrated from a learning-oriented perspective on assessment.

Screen Shot 2016-07-01 at 7.28.58 AM

When ePortfolios are integrated from a learning-oriented approach, lecturers, assessors and reviewers are provided with opportunities to assess and evaluate achievement towards the seven Critical Crossfield Outcomes that should guide all learning at South African institutes for higher education. For the purpose of this discussion, I have identified the following abilities or competencies that need to be developed.

Screen Shot 2016-07-01 at 7.50.00 AM

These seven abilities are also regarded as crucial skills to be effective in 21st century working environments. From a learning-oriented perspective, once-off assessment of assignments is not enough. Feedback should be efficient and enough to allow students to improve their evidence. When ePortfolios are introduced, students can be provided with several opportunities to portray their level of achievement towards the seven competencies, but they can also be provided with multiple opportunities to portray their achievement towards the five Developmental Outcomes that should also guide all teaching and learning at South African institutes for Higher Education.

Screen Shot 2016-07-01 at 7.53.56 AM

The state do not need of higher education to grade students as 50%’ers or a 89%’ers, but to develop confident citizens who can be effective in the 21st century work place. Therefore, I have identified the following learning strategies I believe to be important when I was responsible for a module that was earmarked for integrating ePortfolios as method for alternative assessment at the University of South Africa.

Screen Shot 2016-07-01 at 8.27.30 AM


The strategies are, however, by no means exhaustive. Some of them emerged due to new technologies being developed. Others might emerge due to new technologies being developed while I am writing this report. From a learning-oriented approach to assessment, students have to be provided with opportunities to assess the work produced by their peers. Therefore, I regarded it as important to give them opportunities to learn from one another.

The state requires of higher education to develop effective group workers (Critical Crossfield Outcome) who are sensitive across a range of social contexts (Developmental Outcome), outcomes difficult to assess and evaluate during distance education. Therefore, I required of my students to use my own social networking site, where I can guarantee privacy, to support the development of an online Community of Practice. Various learning strategies can be used to learn from one another, such as networked learning.

The efficiency of networked learning will however be influenced by three types of learners, namely individualistic, competitive and cooperative learners. Individual and competitive learners do not find value in group work. Therefore, it was important to develop cooperative learners.

Screen Shot 2016-07-01 at 8.48.19 AM

ePortfolios can be used to create an informal place where students can learn from one another. However, students often do not use it effectively due to the perception that they are being graded in formal learning spaces. In fact, they are often required to take part five times in a conversation to get 5 marks for group participation. I needed them to experience the value of networked and cooperative learning, while they develop sensitivity across social contexts, therefore they were randomly grouped in cooperative base groups.

Cooperative base groups is a small group technique used to develop cooperative learners. Students are assigned to such a group for the duration of the module and they have only three tasks:

Screen Shot 2016-07-01 at 8.54.29 AM

ePortfolios can also support small groups, but I assumed that the students would not use it effectively due to the formality of such a group. Therefore I have also opened my own, privately owned social networking site to give them opportunities to develop into cooperative learners. I assumed that it will also give them informal, incidental and passive learning opportunities. This provided them with networked learning opportunities.

[will upload network as soon as I have completed data analysis]

Within the first month, the students were embedded in a dense network, that could offer opportunities to get access to a shared knowledge base with regard to the development of ePortfolios. However, some of the students perceived the use of many technologies as overwhelming. Therefore, one of them created a Whatsapp group where they could learn from one another.

[will upload network as soon as I have completed data analysis]

As in the case of the social networking site, it provided opportunities for using networked learning skills to get access to the shared knowledge base. Based on my experience while I was their primary lecturer during the first three months of the year, I believe ePortfolios can support higher education in developing lifelong learners who can enter the workplace confidently.

Please feel free to comment, or contact me if you would like to introduce ePortfolios in your institution. You can also click on the green button at the bottom of this page to be updated.