(For more resources on Moodle 1.9, see here.)
Exploring the Exabis portfolio
The Exabis portfolio is a third-party add-on that can be placed in your courses to allow students to store and organize their work and allow them to share it with others, for example, external verifiers. The code can be downloaded from the Modules and plugins section at the Moodle website (http://moodle.org/mod/data/view.php?d=13&rid=1142&filter=1).
Once the code has been installed, the site administrator will need to check the settings of the block for all users.
The first job, for an administrator, is to make sure the settings meet the institution’s needs. These settings are available on the administration panel. You may need your site administrator to adjust these for you if you do not have these permissions. The following screenshot shows the two options available:
The settings will be determined by what version you have installed on your system, and in this case, the options relate to how the portfolio looks. The key feature of recent portfolios is the ability to create views that are customized web pages. Most students will be familiar with this activity through social networking sites.
Installing the Exabis block into a course
To use the Exabis block, you first need to enable editing within the course you are responsible for. To do this, you need to click on the Turn editing on button, as shown in the following screenshot:
This will change the view of your course, and a block will now be visible on the right-hand column to add further blocks to your course.
The Add button, as shown in the previous screenshot, is a drop-down list and will list all available blocks in alphabetical order. You need to scroll down until you find the Exabis E-Portfolio listing and then click to add this block.
Once the block has been added to your course area, you can make some more localized adjustments.
In the staff view, there are three options. However, the two lower options merely point to different tabs on the same menu as the MyPortfolio link. Once you open the portfolio, you can see the layout of the block and the functions that it supports, as shown in the following screenshot:
The personal information tab
The first tab allows students to build up some personal information so that they have a sort of limited resume or CV. Once students click on the Information tab, they will see one button (Edit), which will open an edit window to allow them to add some notes and details.
The Categories tab
After students have entered some basic information about themselves, they need to organize their material. This is achieved initially by establishing some categories under which the information they gather can be structured. In this example, using the Product Design course, the student may need to create categories for each section they are working with. In the UK, for example, this would be: Materials and Components, Design and Market Influence, and Process and Manufacture.
By clicking on the Categories tab, there will, as with the Information tab, be an edit button visible. Clicking on this button will open a window to create the required categories, as shown in the following screenshot:
By clicking on the New button, as shown in the previous screenshot, the category will be created and you will then have the choice to add sub-categories or new categories as required. The layout of this edit window is as shown in the following screenshot:
These can be further broken down into sub-categories that match the course specification. The process is the same as creating categories, and with each new category created, an additional field appears to add sub-categories, as seen in the previous screenshot. The resulting structure could look similar to the following screenshot, where each part of the specification has a corresponding category and sub-category.
These categories will now be available in drop-down menus for the students to add various resources, such as files and notes, as shown in the following screenshot:
In the previous screenshot, you can see that students have a drop-down box under Categories, which lists categories and sub-categories for them to link their resources too.
Building up the portfolio content
Students can now build up their portfolio of evidence and can share this information, if they need to, with staff, other students, or external examiners. The information is organized through the main My Portfolio tab, as shown in the following screenshot:
Under this tab, there are sub-tabs that allow the students to link to websites, upload files, and also make notes about some of the material they have gathered. Each of these can now be associated with a category or sub-category to give some clear definition to their research work. The following screenshot shows a student adding some files to a sub-category related to design:
In the previous screenshot, students could attach a file which may be some notes they made on a factory visit that they have scanned.
Gradually, they can start building up a detailed folder of information and links to other useful resources. The following screenshot shows the MyPortfolio view as a student builds up some of their reference material and notes.
Each of the resources is clearly categorized and time stamped and the type of resources is easy to see.
In the release under discussion here (version 3.2.3 release 168) there is a tab to create views. This is still under development and not fully functional, but may well be functional by the time you install it.
Clicking on the Views tab will show a button to add a view. Clicking on the Add View button will open an edit window to allow the student to organize their views, as shown in the following screenshot:
The views are quite basic at present, but will allow students to build up a portfolio of evidence in an easy and organized way.
Sharing their work and thoughts
If students would like to share some of their work with each other, then they can via the Views tab. This tab, on the latest version, has a link to allow sharing.
Once students enable the sharing function by clicking on the Change link, they can then choose what type of sharing they require and with whom.
In the case shown here, the student can elect to share his/her work externally by creating a link to his/her folder from an external or an internal link. The Internal Access option allows them to further specify who can see their portfolio. In this case, they can share it with all of the staff who teach them in the design and technology faculty, or just some of the staff. In this case, when the product design teacher logs in and checks for shared portfolios, they will see this student’s work.
Importing and exporting portfolios
Increasingly with e-portfolios there is the need to be able to take the entire portfolio with the students to other places of study or work. With the Exabis system, there is the ability to export the student’s work in a number of formats. The two formats, currently available are Shareable Content Object Reference Module (SCORM) and Extensible Markup Language (XML). Both of these are file structures used to import and export groups of files from web-based systems such as Moodle. The import facility in Exabis will import a SCORM file, which is usually in a zipped format. The options shown for Export/Import are shown in the following screenshot:
In both cases shown here, the export will allow students to save their work as a ZIP file, and depending on how they have structured their portfolio, they will have a range of choices regarding what to include in the export. The following screenshot shows the options for a SCORM export.
The student, as shown in the previous screenshot, has chosen to save his/her Product Development material in a SCORM file. Clicking on the Create SCORM-File button will open a download dialog window where the student can chose where on his/her computer to save the zipped file.
An additional feature shown in the previous Export your portfolio screenshot is the ability to include Moodle assignments in the portfolio of evidence. This would be useful if students take the portfolio to a new job. Clicking on the Import from Moodle-Assignments link results in a screen where students can add their assignments, as shown in the following screenshot:
Under the Action column shown in this screenshot, the student can click on the add this file link. Clicking this link will open the MyPortfolio:Add window and the student can link this assignment to a category. The resulting link will then appear in their MyPortfolio: Files view. The assignment itself will be a hyperlink, which will open the word-processed assignment when clicked.
Opening the assignment link will create a full URL to where the assignment can be located so that external examiners or employers can also view the work. It allows additional notes to be added by the student, such as follow up comments, as shown in the following screenshot:
The additional commentary shows how the student has used the portfolio to track their learning process and to reflect on their earlier work. The whole process is therefore contained in an organized structure that the student controls and can be modified as their greater understanding dictates.
Future developments in Exabis
As mentioned, the views in this portfolio are not yet fully developed, but the current version is very usable. In order to have more flexibility and functionality, it is necessary to install a more fully featured e-portfolio such as MyStuff, which we will investigate in the next section.