Engaging e-Portfolios in an Independent Learning Process
Jessie Choi [firstname.lastname@example.org], Hong Kong Institute of Education, Hong Kong
This study investigates the use of e-portfolios in an independent learning process of learners in English as a second language (ESL). In this study, the instructor uses e-portfolios to manage the self-learning records of learners, to allow learners to interact with peers, and to evaluate performance outcomes. Learners record their self-learning activities using e-portfolios in which they submit and archive the activities they have done. The learners interact with one another through e-portfolios to enhance their learning. By using mixed methodology (survey, interview, instructor’s feedback report and analysis of e-portfolios), this study explores how the use of e-portfolios can help in learners’ independent learning process in English. The results indicate that learners have a mixed feeling towards the use of e-portfolios to assist their language learning experience. It is still uncertain that e-portfolio meets the needs of learners and provides an efficient and effective way to archive their tasks and facilitate peer feedback. This study also discusses the challenges that users of e-portfolios face in the process of English-language instruction, and the implications of the use of e-portfolios in language learning. It is hoped that the study will enable clearer focus to be given to the use of e-portfolios at both local and international levels.
Independent learning has been widely promoted and accepted in language environments in recent years (Benson, 2001). It is a well-known fact that learners need to take control of their own learning if it has to be successful. By actively involving in their learning process, learners can enhance their reflective thinking skills, interaction and participation (Schwienhorst, 2007). An important goal of English language education is to develop learners’ abilities for pursuing independent learning. As Godwin-Jones (2011) points out, language educator’s role is not only providing materials for learning, he/she has to help learners “develop the skills and mindsets that can lead to successful self-guided language study” (p.4).
It has been found that e-portfolios have the potentials of developing learners’ independent learning abilities (Herrington et al., 2009; Joyes, Gray & Hartnell-Young, 2010; Little, 2009). E-portfolios can be regarded as a tool “to show the greatest promise in enhancing diverse dimensions of learning and in promoting learners’ autonomy” (Chen, 2006, p.69). In line with the developments of Hong Kong Higher Education which aim at the application of more innovative technology-assisted methods of teaching to foster learners’ autonomy, the interest in e-portfolio tools and technologies to enhance students’ learning experiences has been widening in Hong Kong tertiary institutes. While it is generally agreed that e-portfolios can have a positive impact on learning in many disciplines, the research that has been conducted to date focuses very little on its value to language learning. This study was implemented in an English language classroom at a tertiary institute in Hong Kong with the use of e-portfolios for one of their written assignments. Participants were students enrolled in an academic writing course. The objective the study is to investigate how the use of e-portfolios can help to improve the independent learning process of learners in English as a second language (ESL). More specifically, the study addresses the following research questions:
- What are the views of the users on e-portfolios in developing their independent learning abilities for learning English?
- What are the challenges users of e-portfolios face in the process?
- What are the implications of the use of e-portfolios in language learning?
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The European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning – supported by EDEN – the European Distance and E-learning Network, presents scholarly work and solid information about open, distance and e-learning as well as new dimensions of technology-enhanced learning and contributes to the Open Content movement since 1995. By covering all sectors within education and training, this e-journal promotes the work of researchers and practitioners in education in an electronic peer-reviewed publication.