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A Review of the Impact of ICT on Learning - page 17 / 26





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based systems through the use of spreadsheets, calculators or computer algebra in paper-based examinations. It can also help examination management by using electronic data exchange to smooth communications between schools and examinations authorities; by digitalising student work and related logistics; by improving the technical quality of tests and by providing more accurate results. Another advantage is the added flexibility for part-time or modular learners through on-demand testing. It can also facilitate assessment readjustment to new objectives, for example by providing on-demand tests with immediate feedback, and perhaps diagnostic feedback. Another advantage is that the use of interactive and simulation- based media-rich learning content paves the way for new methods of testing specific skills such as problem-solving and problem-processing skills, meta-cognitive skills, creativity and communication skills, and the ability to work productively in groups (Ridgway et al 2004: 17- 19).

An e-portfolio or electronic portfolio is a digitalized record of a person’s learning achievements including skills, experiences and other achievements. It offers a means of encompassing the full spectrum of student competences in a number of school subjects and of avoiding assessing only traditional academic competences. Many different uses of e- portfolios are possible. Ridgway et al (2004: 24-25) identify three distinct, but not mutually exclusive, uses for portfolios: as a repository for student work; a stimulus for reflective activity which could involve others and as a showcase enabling students to represent their ‘best work’.

A literature review on the use of e-portfolios in higher education in the Netherlands (Driessen & Bodewes 2006) observed that Dutch empirical studies focussed mainly on the investigation of the impact of e-portfolios as a reflective activity. The impact appears to be quite positive, both for teachers and students. This can also pave the way for continuous use of e-portfolios within the framework of lifelong learning.

Some studies highlight, however, that teacher guidance is crucial for the use of portfolios by students and that teachers are sometimes more enthusiastic about them than students. To address this issue, it is important for students to have a sense of ownership of their portfolios. It could be possible to reinforce their sense of ownership by looking at how computer gamers develop their virtual identities, which contain actualised records of their performance and their game competences. In a review of studies on the net-generation and the way digital youngsters learn, Veen & Jacobs (2005:52) have pointed to the need to investigate such links and to better understand how similarities between learning through game and formal learning can be further exploited. The impact of e-portfolios on the other dimensions of learning such as performance and assessment has, according to the literature review, hardly been researched in the Netherlands (Driessen & Bodewes 2006). Other problems and challenges related to the use of portfolios in education are discussed by Rubens & Heinze (sd).

7. ICT-enabled learning and social inclusion

There is a considerable risk that already disadvantaged groups and marginalized people will not be able to benefit fully from the new opportunities offered by ICT. There are data available indicating that adult learning is mainly being undertaken by those who are already in a good position in terms of employment, education and social position. eLearning is considered very effective in itself for providing skills especially for those already in work, but less so for those entering the labour market and those at risk of social exclusion. The HELIOS Observatory confirms that eLearning is going deeper rather than wider, meaning that groups


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