THE EPICA PILOT IN OPEN UNIVERSITY OF CATALONIA, SPAIN
In the Open University of Catalonia (UOC), the pilot was implemented in the Education and ICT Master (e-learning) programme. The selection of this programme for the pilot was based on its relevance within and outside the university, its digital education focus, and the diversified profile of participants.
UOC is an asynchronous fully online university with a specific distributed teaching model so the pilot was delivered 100% online on the UOC virtual campus.
Three lecturers of the Master in Education and ICT (e-learning) with expertise in educational technology and innovation, application of the competency-based approach, and long experience within the programme were selected and appointed to support students and assess their work.
The EPICA pilot self-training course on Moodle was made available to the lecturers so that they could follow it on a voluntary, self-assessed need basis.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, from one day to the other, most of the students that had initially agreed to take part in the pilot were unable to go ahead and opted out. It was therefore decided that the implementation had to be scaled down to accommodate a smaller number of students. A special call for participants was made to recruit them from a significant group who would profit from a reflective exercise on their skills. UOC finally had a total number of 28 active students.
Four employability skills were showcased at UOC. Three of them were generic skills defined by the pilot and common to all participating universities: Creative thinking, problem-solving, and communication and interpersonal skills.
The fourth one was a digital skill. This additional skill was identified by contrasting its relevance to the programme the pilot was embedded in and to the eventual labour market students would join once graduated.
Each skill was assessed using a specific rubric which was available to the participant at all times. The assessment score was visible on the ePortfolio platform, when successful a micro-credential would also be visible on the students’ ePortfolios. The participants had to check the notification received in the ePortfolio and review the summative feedback written by the lecturer. The condition to pass to articulation two was to obtain at least 80% on two of the skills.
Seven employers participated in the pilot at UOC. Their profiles were diverse, selected according to the programme’s profile. All manifested interest for the pilot. They were curious if the ePortfolio could be an effective strategy for students to introduce themselves to prospective employees and if it could help them to get a more authentic vision of a candidate's potential better than a written curriculum vitae.
The local coordinator and the Master programme director, based on their knowledge of the programme and the profile of the participants, proposed a list of the most relevant profiles of employers or recruiters. The participants then manifested their choice for a particular profile by selecting the most suitable one to them from a list. A matching action allowed to assign employers and participants.
The following testimonials from pilot’s participants from UOC show the positive impact of this initiative on their personal and professional domain:
‘Participants have to demonstrate the acquisition of employability skills by presenting evidence that will be later validated by writing a reflective narrative. This reflective narrative goes far beyond a mere descriptive narrative that helps to understand the process of achieving the evidence presented. Students must explain and justify this process from a metacognitive personal reflection perspective, which at the same time favours the development of critical thinking, stimulating their capacity for self-reflection. Herein lies the value of this reflection, which is crucial to become aware of the acquisition of each competency presented and for the subsequent preparation of the video testimony that will be presented to the employer.’
Josep Torrents, Professor of EPICA Pilot Project, UOC
‘The use of the ePortfolio made me aware of its importance and how creative thinking is a vital part of any job; from establishing and maintaining relationships to creative expression both written and oral, from job application techniques to job interview skills. In fact, for any situation I could think of, the ePortfolio showed me how creative thinking could be applied. Moreover, the inclusion of a reflective narrative encouraged me to think about how I wanted to present this skill. Dedicating time to these tasks was useful for me in that it underlined the importance of articulating and showcasing skills effectively for myself, my teachers and prospective employers. Overall, this was an excellent experience for me, and I feel that I can adopt this approach in future situations particularly when job-hunting or creating professional online profiles.’
Derek Clougher, Student at the Open University of Catalonia
“Normally the qualification required to apply for a teaching position is held by all the candidates, but this does not respond to the current needs of educational centres. Being a teacher requires something more, such as knowing how to communicate, being creative, working in digital environments, ... and with this portfolio format they can really demonstrate it”.
G. Morales (management team member, educational centre)