Review of the Exabis E-Portfolio for Moodle 2

Although I am a fan of the Mahara E-portfolio, I always like to check out the alternatives. So today’s plugin for review is the recently migrated Exabis E-Portfolio block for Moodle 2.

Background

The 1.9 version of this block has been around since early 2008. The Moodle 1.8 and Moodle 1.9 versions are available still in the old modules and plugins database. The Moodle 2 migrated code was released in October 2011, and has had a few updates since then to fix a few glitches. It is developed and maintained by Andreas Riepl. The current version in the database covers Moodle 2 and Moodle 2.1 with the 2.2 version to be released soon I believe!

What does it do?

This block provides a nice and simple E-Portfolio option for students within Moodle. There are many good standalone applications for E-Portfolios one of which is Mahara, however they are external to Moodle. This block provides a nice set of features within the Moodle environment.

Users can do four key tasks:

  1. Add files, links and notes to their portfolio, broken into categories if they so wish.
  2. Build pages (views) to showcase their content
  3. Share this page with others in the course or external to Moodle
  4. Export a view with the portfolio data.

These are all handled nicely within the confines of a course block, so if a course does not want students making portfolios for their course then they don’t need to add the block.

Is it simple to install?

It was straight forward to install. You can download the plugin directly from the new plugin database. After downloading the zip, and unzipped it there was a folder called exaport. I uploaded this into the moodle/blocks folder of my Moodle site. When logging in as admin to the site I was prompted to upgrade to install the module. It installed and produced no errors. There was one new global setting which was to enable/disable the interaction with block exabis competencies, if installed. As I don’t have that installed, I left the setting alone.

Currently the version of Moodle supported is Moodle 2 / 2.1. So, as I wanted to review on Moodle 2.2, I was given the pre-release version which should end up in the plugins database soon. Thanks Andreas!

Is there documentation for it?

Although there is no Moodle Docs page for it currently (I hope this will be added for the latest version), there is a 14 page booklet explaining how to install and use the block. This is available on the plugins website in both English and German. You can also get the information and download for the competencies Block too.

The README.txt in the zip provides an overview on the functionality, the history and installation instructions.

Is it easy for the teacher/admin to use?

Adding the Exabis E-Portfolio block to your course is as easy as any other block.

When the teacher first adds it, there are three options for the Teacher:

Teacher View Exabis E-Portfolio

Teacher View Exabis E-Portfolio

This first link brings up the manage portfolio page which enables the user to

  • manage their profile information
  • E-Portfolio categories
  • portfolio content (Links, Files and Notes)
  • Views (create, edit and share)
  • Export or Import their portfolio
  • View shared portfolios

The second link goes directly to the view Shared Portfolios

And the third link goes directly to Exporting a View in the Scorm format.

Viewing

Once the view is shared with the teacher they can then see a list of views and then click into one to have a look around it.

A view

A view

Each link of Show lets them look in detail at that entry. When viewing a student E-Portfolio view you can also add comments on a per item basis (items they have added into the view), this is a nice feature rather than commenting on the whole view, the feedback can be more focused.

Commenting on an item in a view

Commenting on an item in a view

Is it easy for the learner/student to use?

For a student, they can also see the same three links. Building an Exabis E-Portfolio is really quite simple. I went through the following process:

  1. Added a profile description
  2. Created two categories – project 1 and project 2
  3. Added some files to project 1
  4. Added a Link to project 1
  5. Added a note to project 1

Then I created a view, the below image is the view creation screen:

Student Add E-Portfolio View

Student Add E-Portfolio View

This is a very nice and simple process for creating a view.

The sharing options again are very simple to follow, you can either share it externally and have a unique URL to show it, or you can share internally with others in your course either all, or just specific users.

The external access uses guest access which works even if the course has no guest access enabled.

The Scorm export worked fine. I exported the view into the scorm file and added it to my handy scorm player in Moodle, and it just worked. Cool!

Does it do what it promises?

Indeed it does, good job! I like it. Although this block is not as full featured as a website creator, and hasn’t got the diverse set of features that a dedicated E-portfolio like Mahara has, it is straight forward to use and is inside Moodle for extra simplicity and activated on a per course basis.

I can see it being used in many institutions who don’t want the complexity an extra portfolio platform and the challenges that can bring.

Stars: 4 out of 5 stars for this block

**Standard Reminder**

These reviews check out the plugin for usability not for security. If you are considering installing any module on your site you should also check that is secure and does not impact the server performance.

 

Creative Commons Licence
This work by Gavin Henrick is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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6 Responses to Review of the Exabis E-Portfolio for Moodle 2

  1. Sigi Jakob says:

    Hi Gavin,
    thanks for the excellent review of the exabis module. I definitely agree that it is a valuable extension for a moodle courseroom and gives students the possibility to showcase their learning BUT once the student is no more a registered member of the moodle platform, he cannot access his ePortfolio anymore…. I can see exabis as a transient way to introduce ePortfolio but then again I’d rather start directly with MAHARA so that students do not have to learn a second system. The weak point of using exabis in a Moodle course isb the fact that the students do not really own their work as in most schools there is no more access after leaving school. The same would happen to MAHARA if hosted by the school but if we really take the spirit of ePortfolio work serious we will need a broader base for giving students access to their work for lifelong learning- as they do in New Zealand with myPortfolio….
    So I don’t know whether I would promote the use of exabis in moodle….teachers might get it wrong again, wanting to control….

  2. ghenrick says:

    Hi Sigi,

    Although when I present about Mahara to people about it being the Student area, the green field where they can define what they want to do – the requirement coming from the other side is very different.

    The need for the following aspects are most important:
    – Controlled e-portfolios
    – Controlled access
    – Controlled content
    – Audit trails
    – Set view composition

    Pretty much all the opposite of how some may hope Mahara / E-portfolios are deployed.

    The push for competency frameworks with specific supporting materials, mean that Mahara although it can meet that need, may not always be ideal. So where those needs are required, maybe something like Exabis can be used instead inside the whole Course Management System.

    Just some thoughts.

  3. Sigi Jakob says:

    Hi Gavin,
    yes I absolutely agree, the big problem is still that teachers/administrators want/ need to control everything – and I’ve been trying in all my work with ePortfolio to change this attitude – most difficult I tell you – you also know this. It’s a bit like promoting an empty moodle course to grow with the ongoing school year and with teachers and students input… instead of having a well-structured- coursebook like ready-to-go Moodle course…. with all the docs and pdfs and files….
    A long way to go???
    All the best!

  4. pablo says:

    it’s a nice block, but 4/5 stars is a little too generous!

  5. Diane Plantz says:

    Is there a way for a student to take their portfolio with them and continue to work on it when they graduate from school?

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