Day 2 Speakers

Speaker: Dr Fiona O’Riordan

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Dr Fiona O’Riordan (BABS, MBS, M.Ed, Ed.D) is Head of the Centre for Promoting Academic Excellence in Griffith College. She is also Programme Director for the MA in Training and Education and embedded awards PG Dip. in Training and Education and Special Purpose Certificate in Training and Education. Fiona is a founding member and current Organising Committee member for the International Conference for Engaging Pedagogy (ICEP), Co-Chair of the Educational Developers in Ireland Network (EDIN), Associate Member of the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, and Higher Education Colleges Association (HECA) Teaching and Learning Committee member. Her research areas include engaging pedagogy, internationalisation of higher education, the voice of educators and curriculum development.

Abstract: The use of ePortfolios as a teaching, learning and assessment tool on a professional higher-education teaching qualification
The aim of this presentation is to share our experience of using an ePortfolio as a teaching, learning and assessment tool for a Reflective Practice and Development module. This module is a 5 ECTS credit module and forms part of an MA in Training and Education, with embedded Postgraduate Diploma (60 ECTS credits) and Special Purpose Award (20 ECTS credits). The objectives of the module are to allow students to determine how their own philosophies of teaching and learning impact their pedagogy. They also learn how to become reflective and evaluative practitioners by understanding the reflective and ongoing process of their own learning and development as an educator.

The module requires students to assess key professional issues as they impact their professional lives; critically reflect and evaluate their own professional practice and development; and provide evidence demonstrating the capacity to improve professional performance in the teaching and training context. By way of supporting and evidencing these outcomes, students are required to produce an ePortfolio that can be used as a tool to support their ongoing professional development throughout the programme and beyond. The model we use for the ePortfolio is a reflective portfolio. Because this ePortfolio is public rather than just a private learning diary, students are encouraged to keep a learning diary or journal to inform their reflective practice and share only edited thoughts by way of the ePortfolio. We support our students hosting their ePortfolios on WordPress but can accept any type for ePortfolio submission.

 Speaker: Kevin Maye


In 1990, Kevin graduated with a Higher Certificate in Furniture Making and Design from Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) Letterfrack. Kevin worked in industry until 1995. He then returned to GMIT Letterfrack for another two years to achieve a BSc (Hons) in Furniture Technology. Upon completion of his degree, Kevin worked in industry as a production manager of a joinery workshop and as a researcher with the Wood Technology Centre (WTC) at the University of Limerick. The main research focus of the WTC was to explore the value-added opportunities for Irish timber in the domestic market. Between 2003 and 2004, he completed a Graduate Diploma in Teacher Education (Technology) at University of Limerick.

Since 2004, Kevin has lectured full-time at GMIT Letterfrack. In 2011, he completed an MA in Higher Education at Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT). Since the start of the GMIT Letterfrack teacher education programme (BSc in Design and Technology Education), Kevin’s research focus has moved towards the study of pedagogical issues (his MA thesis was a study of reflective practice among teachers in higher education). He is currently exploring PhD research opportunities. As can be seen, Kevin is a lifelong learner and the journey continues!

Abstract: An initial teacher ePortfolio: towards a streamlined platform
The Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) is a provider of teacher education for second-level teachers in the technical subjects Construction Studies, and Design and Communication Graphics. In line with the requirements of the Teaching Council, Ireland, GMIT facilitates student teachers to develop a professional teaching and learning portfolio. Since 2011, GMIT has researched and pioneered innovative approaches to the development of an electronic Teaching and Learning Portfolio (ePortfolio) in the contexts of e-assessment – initiatives that have been commended by the Teaching Council in their report of the programme in January 2014. The ePortfolio has a threefold purpose: to showcase teaching philosophies, innovations and resources; to act as a live teaching tool in the classroom; and to facilitate e-assessment by peers and staff. The institute currently uses Weebly and Microsoft Excel tools for these purposes. The former provides a professional showcase of learning outputs and the latter acts as a repository management system for students’ teaching resources and a platform for e-assessment.

This current action research critically examines the effectiveness of these tools from student and staff perspectives. Research methodologies include individual online (Moodle) critical reflections, questionnaire surveys and focus groups. The research finds high levels of satisfaction with both tools from staff and students alike, from the perspectives of construction, accessibility, easy navigation, showcase potential, cost and effective use in the classroom. The initial feedback related to a critique of using two independent tools. However, further research suggests that students would prefer one comprehensive platform that should have two distinct functions; an open access area that presents a selection from their teaching and a secure repository for teaching resources. Examining secure cloud-based options that will act as both a showcase for work and as a resource repository will constitute the next phase/cycle of action research.

Speaker: Alison Egan

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Alison is the Director of ICT and eLearning at Marino Institute of Education with an interest in all things technological and educational. She is currently studying for her PhD on technological and pedagogical uses of technologies by education students.

Using Mahoodle in a College of Education: a work in progress
In this presentation, a small research study introducing ePortfolios to pre-service education students is reported. The technology director – the author of this work – has responsibility for increasing the use of technology across the College of Education, and the introduction of ePortfolios was part of her general strategy. The findings of a pilot study were integrated into the redesign of the introduction to, and use of, the ePortfolios with the target group of students. The evaluation of this stage of the research forms the basis for this presentation.

Speaker: Phil McGuinness

Phil works jointly with sparqs’ sector partners on a range of national projects, including the potential for a national college student survey, e-Assessment in colleges, and work around transitions relating to Curriculum for Excellence. He is also working on a joint project with National Union of Students (NUS) Scotland and the National Society of Apprentices in Scotland. Previously, Phil worked as School Councils Co-ordinator at Edinburgh University Students’ Association. He is originally from South Shields, and is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh and Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona. Phil joined sparqs in January 2015.

Abstract: sparqs: engaging with students as partners within ePortfolio processes
Student engagement with eAssessment, and ePortfolios in general, has to begin with the premise that students are experts in their own learning, and that any serious attempt to put learners at the centre of their education must start with bringing through their voice in all aspects of their academic experience. Bringing together theories of student engagement and practical examples from the Scottish sector, this presentation aims to demonstrate methodologies of student engagement in ePortfolio design and improvement. Working with examples drawn from across Scotland’s colleges and universities, we will show where theory meets practices and the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for student engagement with ePortfolios.

Workshop: sparqs staff/student partnership model: strategies to shape and enhance the learning experience
sparqs will lead on working through a series of examples from the Scottish sector of student engagement with ePortfolio redesign and improvement. We will also showcase a series of techniques for student engagement with technology and elearning more broadly.

Speaker: Frank Bourke

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Frank is the Learning Technologist for the Irish Institute of Pharmacy (IIoP). He has over 15 years’ experience in online learning and development. He has worked as an eLearning Specialist within financial services and telecommunications industries, and in education and training. He is currently managing all technical aspects of ongoing development and rollout of the assessment portion of the institute’s bespoke ePortfolio system.

Abstract: ePortfolio review: an interim report on peer-review assessment
The Irish Institute of Pharmacy’s (IIOP) ePortfolio is an online system where pharmacists log and record their ongoing continuous professional development (CPD) activity. Since 2014, pharmacists have been adding CPD cycles ahead of a scheduled yearly review of their portfolios. This statutory assessment has been designed to identify and certify pharmacists who are engaging effectively with CPD. However, given that the IIOP’s system records formal and informal learning, how can consistent assessment be applied across a stratified pharmacist landscape? Also, what does ‘effective engagement’ really mean?

The objective of this presentation is to (i) outline IIOP’s peer review approach to CPD assessment and (ii) offer provisional recommendations around the current piloting of the assessment process. Before review, the Standards Development Group (representative pharmacists with assessment experience) set minimum standards for successful demonstration of effective engagement based on automated and peer review criteria. Initial submissions are subject to automated review (quantitative assessment). Practitioners can view the expected automated review outcome by using the system’s ‘Ready Reckoner’ tool (red light, green light indicators) before finalising their submitted cycles for review. Those not meeting those requirements are sent for peer review (qualitative assessment).

Following peer review, practitioners not meeting the standard are required to amend and resubmit CPD cycles based on standardised feedback from Level One peer reviewers (matched by the system based on practice area). Level One peer reviewers can forward submissions to a Level Two peer reviewer for advice if unsure that a submission has met the agreed peer review criteria. The process also includes a final check for consistency via a sampling of peer reviews, which is conducted by the Level Two reviewer. The system sends automated e-mail notifications at key stages of the review to (i) remind participants of pending deadlines, (ii) confirm receipt of submissions and (iii) provide next steps and final outcomes.

Speaker: Orla Hanratty

Orla Hanratty has over 16 years’ experience working in higher education in Ireland. She is currently the CPD Co-ordinator in DIT’s Learning, Teaching and Technology Centre (LTTC). She teaches on many of the LTTC programmes and modules, including the Postgraduate Diploma in Third Level Learning and Teaching, the MA in Higher Education and the MSc in Applied eLearning. She also supervises postgraduate projects and thesis associated with these programmes. She co-ordinates and teaches on the CPD ‘Learning, Teaching and Assessment’ for DIT staff and external clients. Reflective practice and the use of portfolios has been a key area of interest and research for her. She has also been involved in international projects and has been part of an international quality review team in Lithuania. She holds a B.Ed and MSc in IT and Education from Trinity College Dublin and is currently pursuing a doctorate in Education with Maynooth University.

Abstract: Reflective writing and ePortfolios
Reflective writing is used to evidence and often assess reflective practice. This presentation will outline one of the strategies used to introduce and support reflective writing within ePortfolios for professional development. The DIEP model of reflective writing will be outlined. It is combined with Brookfield’s (1995) four lenses approach to encourage writing that evidences critical reflection on experiences with an emphasis on identifying clear implications for future practice. Orla has been using various resources and strategies to support reflective practice through reflective writing over the years on various programmes and will share how she adapted the DIEP model to facilitate greater depth of reflective writing on components of portfolios such as Significant Incident Analysis.

Dr Helen Barrett


In 2005, Dr Helen Barrett retired from the faculty of the College of Education at the University of Alaska Anchorage and is now living in the Seattle area. She has been researching strategies and technologies for ePortfolios since 1991, publishing a web site (, chapters in several books on ePortfolios and numerous articles. She worked with the International Society for Technology in Education between 2001 and early 2005, providing training and technical assistance on ePortfolios for teacher education programmes throughout the US under a federal PT3 grant. In 2005, Dr Barrett became the Research Project Director for The REFLECT Initiative, a two-year research project, underwritten by TaskStream, to assess the impact of ePortfolios on student learning, motivation and engagement in secondary schools.

Dr Barrett is currently doing research for a book on interactive ePortfolios to be published online. She has been an adjunct faculty member for Seattle Pacific University, where she taught about issues and advances in educational technology. Her international consulting focuses on the integration of ePortfolios for learning and digital storytelling in K-12 schools and higher education. She is an Apple Distinguished Educator.

At the European ePortfolio Conference in Maastricht, October 2007, Dr Barrett received the first EIFEL Lifetime Achievement Award for her contribution to ePortfolio research and development. In 2011, she established the REAL ePortfolio Academy for K-12 teachers, providing online courses for individuals and assessment/planning support for K-12 institutions.

Workshop: Know thyself: reflection and self-assessment in ePortfolios to support lifelong learning
In this workshop, Dr Helen Barrett will address a variety of ePortfolio learning strategies that promote lifelong learning. Drawing on various models of reflection, she will bridge theory with practical examples to support lifelong learning strategies of self-monitoring, self-awareness and self-management. Specific strategies to be shown will include reflective journals (blogs).

Workshop participants will explore ways to teach students reflection/analysis of their own learning. Participants will construct several reflective/analytic prompts that they can then take with them to use in their course(s). Strategies for evaluating student responses to the prompt will also be discussed.