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Moving from paper to paperless

Introducing an eportfolio into an organisation, centre or awarding body is an option that has been adopted by many businesses and is being explored by many more. We are seeing an increase in organisations looking to adopt streamlined, efficient and technologically advanced systems for their assessments.

Storing, assigning and retrieving candidate evidence electronically has many benefits. It is advantageous to workflow, the environment and budgets. It also gives the adopting organisation a selling point and competitive advantage over its rivals.

For more information about the benefits of using an e-portfolio, take a look at our Summary of benefits page.

We have a wealth of experience of guiding new clients through the early days of adopting an eportfolio. It has given us an insight into how organisations work, how ingrained their processes are and how resistant some members of staff are to change.

Bridging the gap

There is still a knowledge gap for some when it comes to using technology and some staff will be resistant to its introduction. We do still encounter organisations where some members of staff do not regularly send or receive emails, have never attached or uploaded a document and do not use, or see the advantages of using online tools.

Perhaps our most extreme example of someone who did not want to move to an eportfolio, was the case of an assessor who could not see the benefit of an online electronic process over the paper-based system that he had been using for many years. He took it upon himself to count the number of mouse clicks he carried out to add evidence to a candidate’s portfolio. He then used this as a justification for keeping the paper-based system.

He was asked to persevere and within 2 weeks of starting to use E-qual, he had seen the light! He became one of our biggest advocates for the software in his organisation. Once he had discovered how flexibly he could work, how accessible candidates and their work had become and how much of his own time he saved, there was no holding him back. He no longer counted mouse clicks.

Helping candidates

One justified concern often raised is “What about the candidates?”

Candidates are your customers and it is important that you give them a satisfying experience. Your e-portfolio needs to be easy to use, reliable and effective. It should be easy to pick up and master. There should be no need for extensive training to get them started. However they should be able to get help and support when required. There must be no barriers to prevent them from submitting their work for assessment.

In the majority of cases, candidates tend to be younger and already have a good understanding of technology and using online tools. They very quickly pick up the skills required to use different types of software, as they spend a significant part of their day using the web - particularly social media sites where files are uploaded, tagged and shared – a process very similar to the features of an eportfolio.

We have had instances where the candidate helped the assessor to use the system and where they have suggest new and innovative ways to gather evidence.

Our article Eportfolio Evidence Gathering outlines some of the best methods for collecting electronic evidence for e-portfolios.

Assessment staff buy-in

It's vital that your assessment team understand why an eportfolio is being introduced. It may require them to change established assessment practices and their support in its adoption is essential for success.

Just like the candidates, the assessors must find using the system satisfying and rewarding; and it must certainly present some benefits over a paper based approach. If the assessors don't see advantages, they will be resistant to its introduction.

It is important that the eportfolio is easy to use for all assessment team members. Remember, this is the tool they are going to be using day-to-day to carry out their work. If the software causes frustration or makes them less efficient, it will not be adopted as enthusiastically as one which enhances their processes.


Further reading