Highly Interactive “Unconference” Breaks New Ground in Sharing ePortfolio Practice

Unconference1.jpgIreland’s first educational technology “unconference” took place at Dublin City University (DCU) on Friday January 26th. The unconference format is a high energy, flexible and even flipped approach for professional learning which features discussion and collaboration at its core.  Last week’s event focused on eportfolio practice across Ireland and attracted a large gathering of attendees from nine Irish institutes of Higher Education, as well as participants from Enterprise Ireland and UK colleges and organisations.

DUdhYC4WkAA0Viq.jpgSam Taylor from Cranfield University was the featured keynote speaker who helped seed many rich conversations but notably participants set and drove the agenda from the outset of the day.

DUda4FgXUAAyJUR.jpgThe dynamic and highly interactive nature of the event is best captured through online and visual media to fully illustrate the energy, relevancy and collaborative nature of discussions. To this end you can mine your way through an archive of rich Twitter conversations over the course of the event by clicking on the Storify link and/or watch the brief video below which gives you a taste of the flavour of the day.

Storifyhttps://storify.com/lisadonaldson/integrating-authentic-eportfolio-assessment-eportf

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The eportfolio unconference was organised by Lisa Donaldson in the Teaching Enhancement Unit and supported by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. Our next related event on the use of eportfolio is a formal launch on 14th February by the Minister for Higher Education of a report providing a critical synthesis of the literature. Please contact us if you would like to attend this event.

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Discovering our Talent and Creativity through a Purposefully Different Experience

Last Friday, staff in the National Institute for Digital Learning (NIDL) at Dublin City University (DCU) joined together for a whole of team collaborative professional development activity. Notably, this experience was purposefully different with a creative twist. In two teams, combining over 20 people across all three NIDL units, the challenge for the morning was to produce a large piece of urban art (i.e., graffiti) based on two randomly assigned themes.

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IMG_5241.JPGAs hopefully you can tell from the selected images the two themes were Pirates and Western. At first this was a rather daunting task for people in the face of two large blank canvasses (walls). However, after a brief 101 tutorial on the basics of drawing and painting graffiti from our two expert mentors, each team set about their task by brainstorming possible concepts, sketching out initial designs and learning how to hold and spray a paint can.

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Some people took to this task naturally whereas others slowly warmed to the experience, especially given the doors were left open most of the time to avoid paint fumes.

It’s also fair to say that dividing up tasks, learning new artistic skills and working in a team to produce the intended design was not easy. Notably, the two groups responded quite differently to the challenge under the guidance of their respective team leaders.

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There was a lot of good banter and healthy competition, nevertheless, between the two teams as the large walls gradually filled and increasingly became alive with colourful imagery.

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Over the course of the morning a number of hidden talents emerged and by the end of the experience both teams were rather pleased with their efforts. We believe the final results depicted in the photos immediately above and below illustrate the creative flair, collective problem-solving abilities and collaborative across unit potential of the NIDL team–that is, irrespective of whether you seek treasure or just prefer to have a quiet drink in the saloon.

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Of course, the challenge for us in the New Year is to build on this innovative professional development experience to more fully harness our combined talents. We hope through this non digital experience (apart from the photos) that we have set a new benchmark for discovering more creative, distinctive and transformative ways of realising our vision of designing, implementing and researching new Blended, Online and Digitally-enhanced (BOLD) models of education.

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In the meantime, the words of Einstein spring to mind and go some way to encapsulating the real spirit and essence of last week’s purposefully different professional development challenge, as we strive in the NIDL to promote talent, creativity, and consistent excellence:

“Creativity is intelligence having fun”

(Albert Einstein)