Why did Vives College choose Simulise?
After an extensive search for a digital portfolio system, Flemish college VIVES chose Simulise. This school year, undergraduate programs in early childhood education, undergraduate programs in elementary education and the Industrial Sciences program began a pilot. Lecturer in ICT and educational technologist Ann Buffel: ‘We were looking for a future-proof portfolio system. Simulise fits that description, and I expect more and more of our programs to start using this platform.’
What were you looking for?
Ann: “Teachers were already working with a number of platforms, but we were not completely satisfied with them. So last year I was given space to look for a digital portfolio system that fit our college. We wanted a system where students themselves were responsible for mapping learning and competencies. And that’s how we ended up with Simulise.
What makes Simulise a working system for you?
‘In Simulise, students use rubrics. Based on behavioral indicators, they can see exactly where they stand and what steps they still need to take to reach a certain level of competence. In turn, in a clear and immediately readable competency chart, teachers can see at a glance how a student is doing when it comes to multiple competencies – which is very useful in coaching conversations. In other systems, you saw a laundry list of documents that the teacher had to look at all of them to make an assessment of how a student was doing. What we also think is a plus is that students can continue to use the portfolio after their studies. It is a useful document to show to a potential employer when applying for jobs.
In what studies is Simulise used?
‘We started two pilots in September. In undergraduate preschool and undergraduate primary education, it is used in Man and World. In this course unit, students build a portfolio with a variety of documents, images and videos. When submitting their assignments, they can then select their best material from their portfolio to demonstrate their progress. Before fall break, students turned in their first assignment. The teacher reviewed that and assigned badges based on behavioral indicators in the rubrics. Until Christmas, students are working on two new assignments.
The other pilot project is being worked on by the Industrial Sciences program. In the Pro-file project, students are allowed to involve community involvement and activities in the program. Students can earn credits for that. For example, some students are engineering mentors at the Engineering Academy; this is an extracurricular activity for elementary school children who like to be involved in engineering. But students can also receive credit for activities such as company visits and lectures. Assignments are made for this, with rubrics attached.’
How are college teachers introduced to Simulise?
‘We are hosting a “Taste of Technology” on e-portfolios in December where teachers can explore Simulise. And during our education day in February, we will be working with this digital portfolio system. We show you what preparations you need to make if you are going to work with Simulise in your training. Teachers thinking about using the platform in their courses will have six months to test things and develop rubrics and assignments. Starting in February, we will provide educational guidance to courses that want to use Simulise for internships and language portfolios, among other things. I get a lot of requests, so there is a good chance that next school year more courses will start using Simulise.
What is your advice to other colleges looking to implement Simulise as a portfolio system?
‘Use Simulise broadly in training, so not for a single course unit, because then you’ll get the most out of it. Then you can also have cross-curricular or generic skills scored.
And what do students think of this digital portfolio?
‘Students are enthusiastic. The platform works very intuitively. For example, they immediately see how to add documents. And they like that they can view and like each other’s materials. It encourages them to engage more actively with the material, because they see others taking steps forward.’ Since the rubric is also visible, they see what steps they need to take to reach a certain level. Consequently, some students are willing to go the extra mile.