The ePPSME project has provided the Higher
Education sector with reusable models and
resources for an eportfolio based pedagogy to address the
needs of small to medium-sized enterprise-based learners. It
has enabled the University to provide HE learning opportunities to
work-based learners that are bespoke to the individuals’ learning
needs whilst being cost-effective and sustainable business for the
University. Academic staff have an improved ability to negotiate
and provide learning solutions for work-based learners and have
been involved in staff development that will enable them to meet
the future business of the University.
The project adopted a participative action
research approach through a series of design workshops and
consecutive pilot study units to develop the use of an eportfolio
tool as a virtual learning environment and personal learning space
to introduce and develop the learners’ reflective practice around
targeted learning content. Market research was undertaken to
determine common themes in business and learner needs leading to
the setting of learning outcomes and content for the study units,
each of which equates to 50 notional hours of learner effort.
Learners can combine units of study and submit summative assessment
to achieve 20 HE credits.
Initial study units in the pilot subjects were
based around a webfolio structure using three types of blog-based
engagement: individual activity responses, group collaborative
discussions, personal critical reflections. Ease of use was
achieved through targeting typical skills required for activities
such as web-browsing and simple word-processing to avoid deterring
learners who lack confidence in their IT competencies.
The aim of this project was to provide
the HE sector with reusable models and resources for
an e-portfolio based pedagogy that addresses the needs
of SME based learners.
The objectives were to develop processes
The ePPSME project has identified a new route
for learners in the workplace to access HE that can be designed to
meet their own and their employers’ needs. Learners are able to
build their learning within a personal learning system allowing
them to develop reflexive practice and include other formal and
informal learning episodes.
Learners can study a single unit as a ‘taster’
before committing to a larger course and can combine units into
modules to meet their personal learning
needs. Employers can support their employees in providing access to
learning opportunities that will benefit their business and that
will have minimum impact on employee absence from work; there are
no attendance requirements and learning can be accessed to suit the
learners’, and employers’, other commitments.
Speedy quality assurance and validation
processes have been developed. These can be used for individual
units and a range of CPD activity to ensure fast response and
turn-round times as are required by many clients. In addition, it
has piloted IT registration and support for learners enrolling on
these smaller units of study. Auto-download and auto-publish
functions developed to facilitate access to the learning materials
are now standard for all users of the software.
Evaluations of the project show a widespread
interest in the pedagogy and the use of the eportfolio for
work-based learners whilst also recognising a preference for some
face-to-face activities although this can be through virtual media
such as web-conferencing software.
Key to the project’s success was the
involvement of all key stakeholders throughout the project through
the use of a participative action research approach, a member of
the University Executive to chair the Steering Group and all key
project personnel being full-time employees with time allocated for
their involvement in the project.
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