How about having care workers use ICT tools to enhance their employability? It sounds like a great opportunity to combat social exclusion and focus on professional development.
The creation of an e-portfolio would add value to their professionalism by underlining and making visible evidence of their knowledge, experience and skills. It is widely known that the sector of social and care workers is often not treated with deserved acknowledgement, because of the large number unskilled employees. The question we ask here is: could the creation of an ePorfolio be a perfect motivation for them to seek opportunities for educational and professional enhancement? In broad sectoral terms, it would be a great benefit for care workers in order to abolish some the perceived issues surrounding professionalism in the social care work arena.
An e-portfolio is a portable, electronic database, where the user collects and organises text, audio, graphic and video files that provide evidence of their knowledge, skills and training. It is basically a personalised space on the web, easily accessible and sharable, for example with future employers.
There are several benefits that stem from the development of an e-portfolio. It enables a care worker to store and organise their learning and assessment evidence and can significantly enhance their chances of getting a job in the Health & Social Care or Nursing sectors. What is important about an e-portfolio is to use it effectively in order to promote your professionalism. For example, a care worker could represent excerpts from paid experience and jobs , any voluntary work relevant to the care and social sector such as telephone councelling or voluntary work in a care home. It is also good idea to include any memberships to professional organisations and extra curricullar activities, which can give a unique insight into the carer’s personality. In order to give ad value, recommendations from others – both colleagues and employers – can be included. It is especially relevant for care workers that an e-portfolio represents them as an individual with a supportive, considerate and respectful character, regardless of the background.
One of the most well-known applications for electronic portfolio is Mahara, which is an open source system with a range of features and the added advantage that it links closely with the popular virtual learning environment Moodle. Other systems include Folio for me, a free e-portfolio, and PebblePad, which provides a learning space as well portfolio area. Although not classified as an ePortfolio tool the social media site LinkedIn could also be considered as an effective tool for building one’s professional identity through networking and connecting with professionals in the field.
Care workers deserve to upgrade their professional status and with digital tools readily now available the e-portfolio represents the perfect platform.
JISC report 2012. ePortfolios – an overview. Online at http://www.jisc.ac.uk/whatwedo/programmes/elearning/eportfolios.aspx
Authors: Theofili Smprini