The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically changed the landscape of higher education. Over a very short period of time, courses have moved online with students being required to adapt to new tools and ways of learning. The on-campus experience has been replaced by a series of separate non-coordinated activities often lacking the synergy and meaning of the recent past. Anecdotal evidence points to students complaining about the loneliness, isolation, and even pertinence of their learning experience. Parents are also questioning the value of this online only proposition. Although plans for next fall involve a mixture of online and in-class activities over a much shorter term schedule, the traditional university model is going to be disrupted for years to come.
Although many tools have been used to enhance the student learning experience, many researchers have long advocated a more holistic, personal, and integrative approach. As eloquently presented by Jenson and Treuer (2014), learning should be put in a much broader context where courses, co-curricular activities, internship, work, and personal experiences, contribute to what are called 20th century life-long learning skills (collecting, self-regulating, reflecting, integrating, and collaborating). Most universities share these long term objectives and values and should encourage and guide students to leverage all their learning activities.
The Karuta Pandemic ePortfolio project is an illustration of this more integrative approach. Contrary to their recollections, students probably have done quite a lot during the pandemic period: They have participated in courses, but they also may have offered service to their communities, helped colleagues and friends in concrete ways, learned new skills, or worked for local or online businesses. What is missing is a mind-set and a tool to make sense of all these a priori unrelated activities using proven and well-accepted rubrics that are keys to future success in whatever career students will choose.
The Pandemic ePortfolio provides a safe space to make sense of these activities. It can also be the missing piece for the coming years in helping students connect the dots, make sense of their unusual experiences, foster their learning ownership and prepare for the future. The Pandemic ePortfolio should not be seen as a silver bullet. Instead it needs to be viewed as a university-wide collaboration involving students with instructors, programs, career development professionals, and various student organizations and support centers.
For more information:
- Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- See a quick preliminary demo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJQFL-m80TM
- Try the Pandemic Portfolio for yourself by creating an account at https://www.eportfolium.com/karuta3.0a/. (Check your trash for a password confirmation email.)
Jill. D. Jenson and Paul Treuer (2014), Defining the e-Portfolio: What It is and Why it Matters, Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 46:2, 50-57, https://doi.org/10.1080/00091383.2014.897192.