What if there was a tool that created an educational environment that didn’t just teach but engaged students so that learning was communal—an interactive social activity, not a static one-way street of facts and stats flowing from teacher to student?And suppose that same tool allowed high school kids to learn how to manage their digital lives and, as those kids became college students, gave them a chance to build their online professional presence.
That tool exists, and it was built by Fox School’s Management Information Systems department. This year it was used not just by Fox MIS, but by college students at Loyola University Maryland and by high schoolers at KIPP DuBois Collegiate Academy, in Philadelphia.
The Temple Community Platform is a Web 2.0, cloud-hosted platform based on WordPress. It allows students to create profiles and maintain e-portfolios of their work. Professors and administrators also have profiles, plus share assignments and course descriptions. All users comment and share– some blog and post articles.
Plus, it’s gamified. Students get points for their efforts.
At the Loyola University Maryland’s Sellinger School of Business and Management, Professor and DeFrancis Scholar in Information Systems, Paul Tallon, read about MIS students using e-portfolios at a Fox career fair. Tallon was intrigued. “It whetted my appetite because we talked about doing something like that,” he said.
Tallon reached out to do some fact gathering, and shortly thereafter found himself running a pilot program at Loyola, with the platform hosted and supported by Temple. The first semester the platform was up and running, Tallon made creating an e-portfolio a class requirement in one of his courses. Twenty-eight students went step-by-step through the process of creating a deliberate digital identity.
Tallon said, “I’m convinced this is the way to go.” By using a platform that works the way Facebook and LinkedIn work, but is specifically for educational and professional purposes, students learn to post and interact in ways that are more polished than on social media sites.
By the end of the year, more than 60 Loyola business school students had created e-portfolios. Tallon thinks that, moving forward, sophomores should be using the platform as part of their required Intro to Information Systems class. At that point they “should have a resume and be interested in internships.”
With the Temple and Loyola platforms, future employers can search the e-portfolios, looking for specific skill sets and experience and see the resumes and projects that have been posted. This helps match students with the right internship—and, eventually, the right job.
The second pilot program took place at KIPP DuBois Collegiate Academy, in Philadelphia (a public charter school in an historically underserved area of the city). Rachel Kyler, a teacher and the Director of College Placement, explained that at the high school level the community platform is closed to outsiders, due to a need for student privacy, but open to the school community.
But, like the business schools, one of the major goals of KIPP is to prepare kids for the working world. To be successful, they need to develop “soft skills (like) networking” and to work at internships, Sarah Gomez, Managing Director of KIPP Through College said.
The platform (note: link leads to password protected site) was rolled out to more than 100 11th graders as part of their Junior College Seminar. The goal was to give the students a place put their resume, showcase their work and communicate with each other about their internships over the summer.
The feedback from the students is positive, Kyler said. “They’re excited about communicating and connecting—they can share what’s working at their internships.”
The platform helped streamline the internship process for the school staff, and will help with both accountability and helping kids overcome challenges during the summer.
Plus, “It’s good college prep because colleges are moving in this direction.”
The Temple Community Platform was conceived in 2008 for the Fox School’s Department of Management Information Systems and since inception has hosted 7300+ members, 5900+ sites, 1200+ e-portfolios, 17,000+ posts, 48,000+ comments, and 300+ courses. It is being used by Temple’s School of Tourism and the Fox School’s Department of Human Resource Management and talks are underway to expand use at Loyola University.