December 5th, 2011
Missing Scaffold; the Broken Discourse
the many years that I taught first-year writing courses – composition 101 – I
met a new group of students each semester in each of my classes. The only
introduction I had to these students was a list of their names. The big
challenge for me was to discover their level of capabilities that, before
information technology, was the main factor in deciding how I taught the
most of the students were strong writers, I would challenge them with difficult
concepts and issues to write about. They could draft grammatical and
readable text but could they do that if they wrote about complex and
on the other hand, most of the students had basic fluency problems, having
difficulty expressing even simple ideas, we would focus much more on
pre-writing activities such as brainstorming and one-minute papers and
peer-review – all techniques designed to frame "writing” in their minds as
communication and not performance. These exercises were also
designed to de-mystify writing and build their confidence as writers.
of needing to discover more about my new students, we often spent two weeks
getting to know each other and to settle into an appropriate learning design.
however, I could have looked at my new students’ prior work before class even
started, we would not have to waste two weeks. If I had the scaffold of
eportfolio evidence, I could have done a better job of teaching.
conversations about eportfolios and how they can support more varied and new
kinds of learning designs have become more and more sophisticated. But,
as the most basic level, the essential continuity of learning is kept intact
with eportfoliios. Each new course is informed by evidence from previous
courses. The discourse between learners and teachers is kept
college courses still miss the scaffold that eportfolios can provide.
Most college courses suffer from a learning discourse that is broken because it
is discontinuous. We educators have become aware of how information
technologies can distribute learning geographically and how eportfolios can
capture evidence of these distributed learning experiences anywhere in the
world, but we are perhaps a bit less aware of how eportfolios can help support
a coherent learning conversation over time.