ePortfolio… free and easy

1 January 2014

An electronic portfolio record for nurses developed by Ngā Manukura o Āpōpō* (NMoĀ) ­­– the Māori nursing workforce development programme – is now open and available to all nurses for free.

Breaking down the barriers for Māori nurses – especially those nurses working in the non-district health board sector – to accessing nursing portfolio systems was the initial aim of the Ngā Manukura o Āpōpō project team.

“NMoĀ noticed that there were access gaps into programmes, evidence of professional isolation, paucity of nursing leadership within some organisations, and lack of support from some employers in allocating time for nurses to complete their portfolio,” says Liz Manning, a nursing workforce consultant who was the ePortfolio project manager for NMoĀ.

The resulting ePortfolio was piloted from July to December 2012 and drew 44 nurses, including two nurse practitioners, more than double the initial target of 20 Māori nurses.

The success of ePortfolio was confirmed recently by taking out the Gold Award for Best Social Learning Platform at the 2013 Learn X Impact Awards. It now it is being made available to all New Zealand nurses for free.

Manning says the vision was to explore options for streamlining, standardising, and improving access to portfolios in which nurses record their evidence of competence to meet Nursing Council requirements. The solution they chose was an easy-to-use online option that could be accessed on work or home computers, personal smartphones, iPads, and other tablets.

DHBs and many other large health organisations use PDRPs (professional development and recognition programmes) but some nurses either choose or are unable to access them so NMoĀ concentrated on portfolios, says Manning.

After reviewing the options available the project team turned to Mahara. Mahara is a collaborative venture between three universities and the Open Polytechnic that was funded in 2006 by the Tertiary Education commission to develop the learner-centred Mahara ePortfolio System. It is open-source software that is now used by institutes and organisations around the world. The MyPortfolio mode is used by more than 1200 New Zealand schools and has 46,000 active users.

Mahara linked NMoĀ with Kineo Pacific who used the Mahara ePortfolio system to develop a nursing portfolio platform that wasn’t only user friendly for nurses but was also compatible with supporting the employers’, assessors’ and regulators’ roles in assessing ongoing competency.

Manning says she and NMoĀ project lead Sonia Rapana facilitated a collaborative approach so the project could translate a platform initially designed for education to meet a health regulation role, including developing competency templates and other key documents that users need to upload for evidential requirements.

“The project team has been the key to success, with lead nurses from across the sector taking a role including Nurses Executives NZ, Nursing Council NZ, National PDRP coordinators and NZNO,” says Manning.

The resulting ePortfolio is linked with Totara e-learning and is Moodle compatible. Users are able to upload and share their nursing evidence and developments online in a space that is controlled by NMoĀ as the hosting organisation.

Rapana says the “dashboard” or front page of ePortfolio includes a checklist of portfolio items that you need to meet Nursing Council requirements and training videos. Nurses create their own profile and can conveniently copy one of the seven templates set up to cover the different competence requirements for different practice areas (i.e. clinical RN, policy RN, EN or NP).

The ePortfolio platform can be used to find ‘friends’ also registered on the system and who is online at the same time. While it as “easy as Facebook” nurses are reminded that it isn’t Facebook and any content needs to be kept professional and meet Code of Conduct guidelines.

*Ngā Manukura is a Ministry of Health-funded Māori nursing and midwifery workforce development programme with three key work streams: clinical leadership, professional development (where the ePortfolio sits), and recruitment and profile-raising.

Article material contributed by Liz Manning, consultant for Ngā Manukura o Āpōpō (NMoĀ), and Sonia Rapana, NMoĀ ePorfolio Project Lead (until recently assoc. director of PHC nursing for Lakes DHB).

Q & A about ePortfolio

Q What is an ePortfolio?

A ePortfolio is a tailored, online electronic platform for bringing together, holding and presenting evidence of your nursing competence. The same evidence nurses currently put into their paper portfolio.

Q Who can use ePortfolio?

Nurses registered in New Zealand

Q What does it cost?

Kore, nothing …

Q Can I use this if Nursing Council of New Zealand audits me?

A Yes, you just need to make sure that only the items Nursing Council have asked for are ‘shared’.

Q How do I register?

A Through the NMoĀ website www.ngamanukura.co.nz. Add your details and a password then you can start building your portfolio.

Q What can I add?

A You can type in case studies etc directly into ePortfolio templates. And you can scan (or take a picture) of any certificates and load the image straight into your portfolio. The option is also there to add audio, video and podcasts. Developers say it is as easy to use as Facebook.

Q Who will have access to my ePortfolio?

A Only you, until you ‘share’ any of your work with someone i.e. peer reviewer or assessor to verify your evidence.