As a team we are brand new: 1 part-time (myself) and 2 full time teachers with 4 GCSE groups across art and photography in a school with around 1200 on roll plus a 6th form. We have just one technician who has to facilitate art, textiles, food-tech, resistant materials and photography. This has not stopped me from wanting to have a course that is all singing and all dancing, despite there being very little money left in the singing and dancing pot in schools in the south of England.
I was, of course, wrong. There are as many pitfalls as there are advantages to ePortfolios and I am still working part-time making it just that little bit trickier to chase things up as quickly as I would like. I began by marking the work and giving feedback to my students directly on their sites. Do not do this – it doesn’t look "cool” and the students delete it! I have now ascertained that this is recoverable but I didn’t realise it at the time and so lost evidence of my valuable advice and the time I spent doing it was wasted. I have kept the websites password protected so that only those with the password can see them. I am now rethinking this approach since a public site will mean students are publishing their work to a real world audience and possibly feel more accountable for its content.
I now realise how very unrealistically optimistic I have been. Coursework and homework is still coursework and homework regardless of the fact that it's online. Students love doing the practical work- the photography, the dark room – always have. But scanning, uploading, evaluating and analysing is still considered to be a chore.
I have felt regularly that I am out of my depth and the reason I am faced with these problems is because the students think that I am too. I am now though beginning to recognise that I am doing everything I can with what I have and that, although I am continually behind with chasing, marking and technology, we are getting pretty good results, so much so that I have now been approached by another school for advice on how to set up their new course.
Without the PHOTOPEDAGOGY contributors, advice from Jon, Chris and ALL of their collaborators I would not have found my feet. Thank you all. I hope to add some lesson plans of my own and continue the “Pay it Forward” (and hopefully back) culture you have generously created.