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Digital portfolios, communication and online assessment

Donna Torrance, IBMS Head of Learning and Development, explores some common problems experienced with the move to digital portfolio submissions.

The transition to online portfolio submission and subsequent verification or examination was rapidly introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic and this immediacy allowed for very little user testing. We have all been learning over the last few years and experiencing some positives and negatives with the digital process.

George Bernard Shaw said: “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place”.  This is often the case with problems identified and raised with us at the Institute, including unintended miscommunication and misunderstandings between assessors and laboratories. Following are some tips to ensure communication is clear and understood in the same way by the assessor and the laboratory.

When allocated as an assessor, it is the assessor’s responsibility to initiate contact with the laboratory training officer (TO). If the TO does not respond within 10–14 days the assessor should follow up with a telephone call, as there are various reasons why the TO might not have seen the email. When the TO responds to the assessor it is useful to have potential dates when the assessment can be carried out to discuss and agree. These dates should leave sufficient time for the assessor to receive and review the material before the assessment date. The method and deadline for delivering the portfolio and evidence for review should be agreed. The TO should then confirm with the assessor when the material has been sent and the assessor should respond to say they have received it and can/cannot access it.

Assessors should allow sufficient time between reviewing the submitted portfolio material and the assessment of the candidate. This allows time for additional material to be provided, or minor corrections to be made, if required. Assessors have 90 minutes maximum and an indicative 90 minutes to review the registration and specialist portfolios, respectively. Although opening electronic folders and files might necessitate more than 90 minutes and the time to review might take place over several days at convenient times for the assessor, it is important that the process mirrors the face-to-face assessments.

If additional information is required before the assessment date, the assessor should ensure the TO has sufficient time to send it. If this is not possible, the assessment date can be rescheduled and the IBMS Education Team informed.

It is also useful to check Teams or Zoom connections between the laboratory and the assessor in advance of the assessment and for the candidate to practise presenting their “tour” on the computer or laptop they will use on the day.

Finally, the IBMS would like to thank all those involved in the portfolio assessment process for their useful feedback to us, the training laboratory and candidate, plus the positive consideration shown to assessors, candidates and training officers whilst maintaining the IBMS training standards.

Image credit | iStock

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