Improving support for lifelong learning in universities through enhanced eportfolio systems : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Information Technology at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

Thumbnail Image
Open Access Location
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Massey University
The Author
Lifelong learning is seen as a self-directed pursuit of knowledge or skills that occur throughout one's life. While this concept is not new, the importance of lifelong learning skills, in addition to academic and subject knowledge, has been increasingly emphasised in the workplace and public policy over the last decade. Higher education institutions, universities in particular, recognise the importance of lifelong learning and de ne their own strategies to promote it. Such strategies include the development of institutional graduate pro les which represent the core learning outcomes, skills and qualities, that students should acquire during their university education. The problem identi ed and addressed in the current research is the lack of comprehensive technical support solutions for lifelong learning in universities. Currently, only basic level support is available in form of ePortfolio systems or incorporation of Web 2.0 tools into university settings. However, the shortcomings of these systems and tools, are hindering their full adoption, and as such the necessary support for lifelong learning is not available. Through a literature review process followed by stakeholder interviews, this thesis analyses the needs for supporting lifelong learning in universities. According to this analysis, better support is required for re ection, communication and collaboration, development and showcasing of lifelong learning skills, and tracking of learning progress. These identi ed needs are then translated into requirements that are used to create a prototype system that extends a current ePortfolio system, Mahara, with new features, to provide institutional support for lifelong learning. A number of studies, involving both lecturers and students, are conducted to evaluate whether the prototype will bring strong improvements towards providing comprehensive support for lifelong learning in universities. The results indicate that the new features can be successfully adopted by students to help development and understanding of lifelong learning skills, address institutional graduate attributes, track learning progress, as well as manage and share this knowledge with others. In addition to these studentfocused results, lecturers responded positively to incorporating the prototype into their teaching. Lecturers see the opportunities for employing the new features to provide students with the guidance through their lifelong learning journey at the university. Additional research in various elds needs to be conducted towards full support of lifelong learning in universities. This research provides a foundation for comprehensive technical support. It draws attention to the in uence that technology has on teaching and learning, encourages cooperation between stakeholders, and shows the importance of listening to the learner's voice.
Electronic portfolios in education, Internet in higher education