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Enabling Deep Learning with ePortfolios: ConnectEDU's 2013 Webinar Resources
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Link to the Recording of the April 10. 213's webinar session: ConnectEDU: Performing Learning through e-Portfolios.  Presented by John McLaughlin, Senior Director of Business Development, ConnectEDU; Mekelle Douglas, Senior Business Development Director, ConnectEDU; Dan Kulmala, Professor and Department Chair of Global English, Teagle Foundation Teaching and Learning Scholar, Fort Hays State University

The following questions are a compilation of the questions and concerns identified in an informal polling of eportfolio community members. The answers are the vendor's responses.

What vision or understanding of learning informed the design of your tool?

The ConnectEDU ePortfolio was designed with the learner at the center of its strategy. Based on Web 2.0 technology, the ePortfolio allows learners to communicate with thousands of others in the Social Learning Network, across campuses, and around the world. With today’s students requiring access to global resources in order to gain the knowledge and tools necessary to compete in the global economy, the ConnectEDU ePortfolio provides the perfect environment to accomplish just that.

How does your vision of learning promote a student-centered approach to education? (e.g. student ownership of his/her learning

Our platform was built on the premise of being learner centric, instead of course centric. Learners have access to their ePortfolio for life and at no cost to them. They also have access to the Learning Matrix tool, which is used to track progress throughout the educational process. In addition, courses taken via the Epsilen LMS are available to the learner for life.

Does your tool allow students to control permissions? Can they share with people outside of the institution? How? (e.g., advisor, prospective employer, etc.).

Yes, the student controls permissions and can share specific parts of their ePortfolio with peers, professors, or even potential employers. Accomplishments can be presented in a compelling fashion, with an easy-to-use multimedia format that supports profiles, photos, videos and course-created artifacts.

What is the process for inviting feedback on work or artifacts?

The ConnectEDU Learning Matrix is a tool that allows the learner to upload their work/artifacts into the matrix for an assessor to evaluate and provide feedback. The learner can share their matrix with other users for evaluation as well. In addition to the Learning Matrix, ConnectEDU offers the Share-It tool, which allows the user to put an item (document, image, website, etc.) on their ePortfolio to be rated and evaluated by an audience of their choice. The Share-It tool is also a component of the Epsilen mobile application making it accessible from both the website and mobile devices.

Describe how your tool promotes and supports student-to-student collaboration.

There are several places within the environment for students to collaborate. For example, within the ePortfolio there is the Share-It tool as well as Groups. Within Groups, students have access to forums, drop boxes, wiki’s, and chat features. These features are also available within courses. In addition to the tools already mentioned, students have access to work groups for smaller group projects and cross-listed work groups within a course, which allows students from different courses to work together in a type of personalized project space.

Describe how your tool promotes and supports student-to-faculty collaboration.

Students can share work with faculty via Share-It, Groups, Courses, or the Learning Matrix. Assessors can evaluate student achievement, and institutions can document progress at various levels.

How does your tool support and encourage the reflection process for students and faculty?

Because ConnectEDU’s ePortfolio is designed to be accessible throughout the lifetime of a student or faculty member's learning process, it provides the perfect environment for reflection. In fact, users can access previous work completed at the university level in order to apply to current work related projects. The fact that learners can collaborate online as well allows the reflection process to be that much more enhanced since others can weigh in on the subject matter, and provide different resources.

How does your tool address and support institutional level assessment needs (e.g., aggregating student data and generating reports for accreditation)?

ConnectEDU offers a comprehensive repository and reporting tool that enables colleges and universities to organize assessment data efficiently in order for faculty and administrators to evaluate the effectiveness of courses, programs, and even the institutions themselves. Tightly integrated with our other solutions, and building on its Learning Matrix platform, which provides students evidence on the success of their individual learning outcomes, ConnectEDU enables administrators to make data-driven decisions.

Does your application integrate with enterprise systems? Which ones? Do you have examples of effective integration in support of advising or other student services you can share?

Yes, the application integrates with other enterprise systems. Integration services include single sign-on with third-party applications or locally created software, data exchange of student and faculty records with ERP systems and student information systems, conversion of data from other learning management systems, and additional local customization using the our application programming interface (API). For example, as a member of the Ellucian Higher Education Collaborative, ConnectEDU provides seamless integration between our solutions and Ellucian's Banner, and Luminis solutions.

What is the main strength of your application?

ConnectEDU is learner centric (vs. course centric) and allows learners to socialize and collaborate beyond the traditional LMS framework. This enriches the learning experience beyond just the online course model and learners are able to interact at a truly global level.

What weaknesses have been identified relative to the user experience and shared with you?

At this time the user interface is under review and every so often the design of some features is considered a weakness. It’s typically the amount of information on the screen because the application is so functionally rich.

Please share some examples of user feedback.

Most of the case studies are included on our website (others are in development right now). Below are some examples of user feedback:

"Epsilen is a robust system with tools that support diverse methods and approaches to teaching and learning. We knew we could rely on Epsilen for hosting and technical support.” - Kristen Sosulski, Academic Director, NYU-SCPS Office of Distance Learning

"The Epsilen social networking tools mean that learning is no longer a one-way street." - Dennis King, Director, Virtual College and Learning Technolgies, Fort Hays State University, KS

"We became interested in using ePortfolios to improve student persistence and retention." - Bruce Naples, Director, Academic Computing Center, Queensborough Community College, NY

Please share examples of the successful use of your application to help students achieve their goals undefined admission to graduate school, career placement and advancement, etc.

What key changes or features do you plan to introduce in the near future?

ConnectEDU releases updates on a monthly basis. Our roadmap currently includes improvements to all of our products, including the ePortfolio and the Engagement component, and will incorporate an internship agent, Common Core / Curriculum Mapping, user interface improvements, and more support for mobile platforms.

Business Operations

Company profile: Serving educators and students in over 5,000 institutions worldwide, the ConnectEDU Environment is a hosted online eLearning solution that focuses on learner engagement and the teaching and learning experience. It situates a robust set of learning tools within a learning community, offering the advantages of both. Additionally, ConnectEDU offers clients exclusive access to The New York Times Content Repository, a rich collection of digital resources and learning objects.

Customer base/size:Today, ConnectEDU serves more than 20 million registered learners, 5,000 educational institutions, and 130,000 employers throughout 40 countries; all engaging and supporting learners across their school-to-college-to-career pathway.

Student license pricing model: The ConnectEDU ePortfolio is free to the student for life.

Institutional pricing model: The Institutional pricing model is on an FTE basis.

Postgraduate/transfer student license model:ConnectEDU’s ePortfolio is free to the student for life.

Institution service agreement model: The current service agreement model uses a customized project charter. The elements of the charter are set-up and agreed upon by both parties before work is started. A signature is required from both parties in order to finalize.

The following components are in the charter:
1. Project Summary – an overview of what is to be accomplished and what led to the service agreement 2. Project Drivers – list of items that motivated the client to seek the service agreement 3. Project Participants and Responsibilities – names, titles, and roles of everyone involved 4. List of Deliverables – list of specific items to be accomplished 5. Scope of Work – detailed description of the work that will be completed in the course of the project 6. Projected Timeline - list of deliverables and the approximate time frame they will be completed 7. Responsibilities of Client and Epsilen – list of responsibilities for each party involved in the project 8. Project Tracking and Reporting – identification of how the project is to be tracked, what software will be used in communication and how the regular reporting will be done over the course of the project.

Online support information: In addition to the training that we provide we also offer, FAQ’s, Manuals, and access to our Help Desk.

Institutional support services (Free): Services that are part of the initial contract – Success planning to assist the institution in defining what success looks and how to achieve that success using technology tools, Training for administrators and faculty in the use of the ConnectEDU tools, Communication plan around using the tools, and targeted technical implementation support.

Institutional support services (Fee-based): At this time there are no services for fees.

IT staffing requirements: None, ConnectEDU is a Software as a Service.

Technical Information

System Requirements End User: Internet Connection, Internet Capable device.

System Requirements Server: None, ConnectEDU is a Software as a Service.

Hosted service? ConnectEDU is a Software as a Service so we host everything for the client institution. This means that there is no software to install or hardware to purchase on the clients end to support our service.

Storage Capacity (per account): The default storage limit per ePortfolio is 75mb but this is negotiable on a per contract basis.

Privacy policy relative to student accounts and underage users: ConnectEDU is compliant with all privacy requirements and has extensive security measures in place.

Standards compliance: ConnectEDU is compliant with a wide range of standards, if there is a specific standard or area of compliance you are interested in please let us know and we can provide you with that information.

Section 508 compliance: ConnectEDU is Section 508 compliant. We have done testing with several text-to-speech applications and have contracted with a company that specializes in disability access to ensure that our site is not only compliant with the standard but, above and beyond that, user friendly for all users.

Published API: We do not publish an API.

Migration/Exportation: ePortfolio access is free to the user for life so there is no need to migrate or export the ePortfolio data to another system.

Systems Integration (list known): ConnectEDU currently has integrations with the following:

  • Various content providers (NYT, NASA, StarDate, etc.) - StarChart (Texas-only application) - Moodle - Blackboard Collaborate - Blackboard - SunGard Higher Education (Banner and Luminis) - A+Rise - - EdSteps Continuum - eCollege - SCORM - Jenzabar
  • Accepted artifacts/media (pictures, video, audio, text, html, documents, etc.): Users can upload any file type that isn’t an executable file. The per file size limit is 50mb.



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