Students' Learning Experiences with the Web 2.0 Tool MyPortfolio: a Case Study of One High School Classroom
Portfolio learning has been utilised in education for many years and a natural development in today's digital environment has been the move from paper to electronic portfolios (e-portfolios). The development of e-portfolios in New Zealand has also been driven by two forces- the emerging view that e-portfolios can be an effective way to support constructivist approaches to learning and help develop students into 'lifelong learners' ; and the beliefs about today's digital environment and the way in which students should and do operate within this. In many ways, e-portfolio research is a relatively young field of study and much of the research that has been conducted has occurred in the tertiary environment and related to the perceptions of the instructor or technologist. In an attempt to add depth to current e-portfolio research, this study made use of a mixed-methods, descriptive case study approach in order to focus on the perceptions of a group of high school students and the way in which they experienced using the e-portfolio application MyPortfolio for the first time. Key findings of this study focus on the way in which students experienced using MyPortfolio and the fact that although it is often claimed that e-portfolio tools can be effective in helping developing reflective thinking in students, overall, the students in this study predominately saw MyPortfolio as a tool to organise and process knowledge rather than something that could help them to engage in 'deep learning'. The experiences and perceptions of the students in this study also challenged ideas about how much students want to use ICT within the school environment and this study suggests that increased use of ICT can lead to students missing the social interaction that usually occurs within the classroom. In a similar vein, the students in this study also challenged the idea of the 'digital native' and their experiences suggest that, as with any area of learning, students' skills with using ICT varied greatly. The way that the students in this study made use of MyPortfolio also demonstrates the fact that although e-portfolio tools such as MyPortfolio offer students the opportunity to engage in reflective learning, they do not necessarily undertake this naturally. Finally, the findings of this study highlight the role of the teacher in supporting effective use of ICT for learning.