Teaching Innovation Awards Winner

Galway Mayo Institute of Technology

Analytical, Biopharmaceutical and Medical Science
Helen Cregg, Dr. Joan O'Keeffe


Carrying out 1000 hours mandatory practice placement in a hospital laboratory as part of the medical science program posed many challenges during a pandemic. In order to capture the student learning experience during practice placement and to ensure achievement of learning outcomes, students present evidence of their training. Due to covid, an eportfolio was introduced instead of students keeping a folder of paper-based evidence. This minimised handling and exposure to a paper-based portfolio. It was also easier to share and ensured all academic team members could access each students eportfolio when on-site activity was not permitted in the college due to covid.

Students received training on pebblepad, an e-portfolio. They were given the option of using a template for their eportfolio or they could create their own design with core requirements included. Students embraced the challenge, with many students opting to design their own. Students engaged with the eportfolio and uploaded in-house competency sheets; notes (handwritten or typed and annotated or highlighted) that they had taken at training sessions; images and videos of work they completed on placement; blogs; and daily records of their training. They uploaded reflective logs and other assignments during their placement to their pebblepad eportfolio. Students used their eportfolio to capture development of skills and were proud to present evidence of their work. They were able to share professional experiences during their practice placement in their eportfolio.

A discussion forum was available for students to ask questions on moodle (VLE in GMIT). Students and staff collaborated to answer each other’s questions. Owner designed videos of “how to” were prepared and uploaded to moodle to demonstrate and aid student design and completion of their eportfolio. Training sessions were held with the students while on practice placement. Students were able to access pebblepad on their phones using the pebblepad app. They were also able to link their GMIT OneDrive account with their pebblepad account for faster upload of evidence.

Their eportfolios were jewels of creativity that captured their learning journey spanning five different laboratory departments and completion of 1000 hours of work. Feedback from students showed that they found it easier to retrieve content from their eportfolio. They did find designing the layout and organising the eportfolio for the first laboratory department hard but found it easier for the remaining departments after having completed it once.

Completing the eportfolio improved their digital literacy skills (typing, uploading documents, linking documents, embedding videos), planning and organisation skills, communication skills and gave them the confidence to build something from the beginning. Preparation of their pebblepad also encouraged critical thinking and problem-solving in their usage of the pebblepad tool. These transferable skills will enable a students’ success. Students with different abilities were able to use pebblepad and this enabled accessibility and inclusion of all learners. Students were able to work on their eportfolios at their own pace. Creating an eportfolio from the beginning gave students ownership of their learning.