Otago Polytechnic

Occupational Therapy lecturer James Sunderland has been working with Kimi Ora School in Wellington.

Kimi Ora School caters for students from age 5 to 21 who have a variety of special needs, and employs therapists to work with the students. Recently the School introduced online e-portfolios to record achievement and learning and as a way of communicating with parents. The Storypark software used was designed for early childhood education, so James Sunderland worked with Dave Speden, Senior Occupational Therapist at Kimi Ora School, to investigate how the e-portfolios were working at the school.

James interviewed three teachers, three parents, and three therapists at the school - an occupational therapist, a speech therapist and a physiotherapist - then analysed the results. All users found the software to be simple and straightforward to use. It allows photos, videos and audio to be shared as well as written text. It is a tool for two way communication between the school and parents, and allows parents to share their child's portfolio with nominated family members and friends.

James' findings confirm that the e-portfolios are an effective communication tool for Kimi Ora School, providing higher quality of information to parents and more frequent communication between parents and teachers. To improve reciprocity of communication he recommends more training and encouragement for parents to contribute more than text to their child's e-portfolio. James also found that the e-portfolios usefully provide therapists with a much richer and more powerful record of progress over time than written notes. James has identified issues about record-keeping for the profession to consider, for example whether written notes should still be kept as well as an e-portfolio, and whether the e-portfolio encourages an exclusive focus on celebrating achievements.

 

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EDUCATION & EMPLOYABILITY

December 2016

Image credit: Kimi Ora School, used with permission