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California College Ramps Up Hosted E-Portfolio Deployment

Norco College in Norco, CA has deployed a hosted online learning platform in an effort to help launch students into careers and assess student performance and retention.

The college, which was looking for more than a basic e-portfolio solution, reviewed six options, and decided to adopt Epsilen's ePortfolio features, including its integrated social learning environment. Some of its classes started using the platform in the fall semester, and now the deployment has been extended to students in courses such as career and technical education, engineering, accounting, manufacturing, computer information systems, and business.

"We were looking for something that was easy to use, easy to train our students to use, but still offered enough flexibility to go beyond the basic ePortfolio," said Gail Zwart, associate professor of business. "After careful review, we came to the conclusion that Epsilen's social learning environment best met our collective needs."

The two-year community college is paying for the module with a Title V grant it received from the United States Department of Education to go toward "improving the success of its Hispanic and low-income students." Statistics from 2009-2010 show one in four Hispanic students, which make up approximately 40 percent of the college's enrollment, is considered low-income. The college is also using the monies to fund games for classrooms.

Epsilen's ePortfolio, which integrates with learning management systems, is a module that lets students create online portfolios that they can present when they go job-hunting. The platform allows for the inclusion of profiles, multimedia such as photos and videos, as well as other course-created materials.

Other features include:

  • User-controlled access, which allows students and faculty to determine their individual privacy settings, including who will be able to view what sections of their e-portfolios;
  • Archives, which provide assessment documentation for schools;
  • Integration with the Epsilen Global Networking toolset, a social networking platform
  • Options such as message boards, workgroups, blogs, wikis, discussion forums, and drop boxes;
  • A searchable directory of members and content from all participating schools; and
  • Access to students for life.

Students who use Epsilen's ePortfolio also have free access to The New York Times Content Repository. (Epsilen is majority-owned by The New York Times.)

Norco College also plans to use the ePortfolio for assessment purposes.

"With Epsilen, we're looking to assess program learning outcomes, which we're required to do for accreditation," said Zwart. "When a student graduates with a certificate or degree, we have to assess that they've met defined outcomes."

Norco College is part of the three-school Riverside Community College District. It has approximately 10,000 students.

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About the Author

Tim Sohn is a 10-year veteran of the news business, having served in capacities from reporter to editor-in-chief of a variety of publications including Web sites, daily and weekly newspapers, consumer and trade magazines, and wire services. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @editortim.

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