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SAMSON-CPD-Eng FOA Assembly report:Portals, Roles and Responsibilities

Assembly report from FOA, 20 October 2010
Portals, Roles and Responsibilities: windows into the institution

The unexpected unavailability of David Sowden (the result of a freak bicycling accident) meant that this was the ultimate in audience participation: a hands-on, DIY assembly constructed from a title, a set of slides and a collection of enquiring minds.

Sandra Winfield from the Centre for International ePortfolio Development at the University of Nottingham introduced the session with a brief slideshow outlining the idea of the ‘portal’ in all its senses, starting from the classic dictionary definition, then moving on to think about the possibilities and challenges it offers for institutions and systems. We then divided into two discussion groups to consider a series of questions in the areas of Environment, Technology, Engagement, Support, Collaboration, Training, Personalisation, Strategy and Quality, Communications, Resources, Barriers and Responsibilities. The brief comments recorded on sticky notes are transcribed in the attached PowerPoint; these were fixed to the walls so that both groups could see and add to comments made by the other. These were then compared to findings from project work to see if we could draw any general conclusions.

We found that the idea of the Portal as a gateway to institutional data offers apparently infinite potential but in doing so raises many issues, tensions and apparent contradictions. While it needs to be customisable and personalisable, it also needs careful management; while it needs to be learner-centred, it is not really learner owned. ID management raises the issue of individuals with multiple roles. Making data and systems available to users in flexible, accessible and customisable ways has implications for security.

What became clear was the need for clear, well-defined overall strategies, management and governance to support freedom while avoiding anarchy. Where vision is lacking the people are perishing.

Powerpoint slides of comments on sticky-notes contributed from small group discussions during the Assembly

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