What is an ePortfolio?

An electronic portfolio, also known as an e-portfolio or digital portfolio, is a collection of electronic evidence assembled and managed by a user, usually on the web. Such electronic evidence may include inputted text, electronic files, images, blog entries, and links. E-portfolios are both demonstrations of the user's abilities and platforms for self-expression, and, if they are online, they can be maintained dynamically over time.

Paper Portfolios first started to emerge around the mid 80's and were used predominantly in the arts and English programs with heavy writing components. In the 90's portfolios started to gain prominence at higher education institutions and their popularity spread to other subjects including mathematics, leadership, nursing, education. As technology improved e-Portfolio software started to emerge.

Some e-portfolio applications permit varying degrees of audience access, so the same portfolio might be used for multiple purposes, such as college application or work samples demonstrating student skill. While typically constructed and maintained as an ongoing work, it is not a random collection of artifacts. It is designed and dedicated as a tool to demonstrate growth and achievement. The artifacts are purposefully assembled as evidence of these attributes.

Within academic environments, an e-portfolio can be seen as a type of learning record that provides actual evidence of achievement and growth over time. Learning records are closely related to the Learning Plan, an emerging tool that is being used to manage learning by individuals, teams, and organizations. To the extent that a Personal Learning Environment captures and displays a learning record, it also might be understood to be an electronic portfolio.e-portfolio.gif

There are various means to assess and record a person’s acquired learning, e.g., test results and report cards in school, performance appraisals at work, and personal journals, to name a few. The ePortfolio may be newest form of recording learning, but portfolio assessment has been used for a long time. The electronic portfolio is used make portfolio assessment more effective and efficient.

An ePortfolio provides both evidence of a person’s learning and the individual’s reflection of his/her own work. It is a record of learning, growth and change, and it provides meaningful documentation of individual abilities. An ePortfolio is an ever-evolving organic creation. In the academic environment, examples of types of portfolios include:

  • developmental portfolio: documents a student’s improvements in a subject area over a school year; contains samples of the student’s work along with self-evaluations of specific assignments; provides documentation which can be used for student evaluations and parent conferences;
  • teacher planning: using an existing portfolio system (e.g., commercial, on-line) to receive information about an incoming class of students;
  • proficiency portfolio: used as a means for determining graduation/completion eligibility (e.g. requiring students to complete portfolios in certain areas)
  • showcase portfolio: documents a student’s best work accomplished during an entire educational career (e.g. research papers, art work, and science experiments, which best represent the student’s skills and abilities)
  • employment skills: a student portfolio used by employers to evaluate prospective employee’s work readiness skills (e.g., employability skills portfolios created by students in public skills)
  • college admission portfolio: a student portfolio, usually a showcase portfolio, used to determine eligibility for admission to college, university.

Why use ePortfolios?

A Record of a Student's Ongoing Development Over Time. Portfolios contain examples of children's work at different time periods in a school year. For instance, you can take a photograph of a child's completed block structure in the fall, winter, and spring. Or a child can draw and file a series of self-portraits.

Information to Help You Design Instruction. Portfolios help you begin to construct a well-rounded and authentic picture of each child so you are better able to plan your program to build on individualized strengths and support each child's growth.

Student's Involvement in Assessing Their Own Work. As children participate in the portfolio process, they begin to reflect on and understand their own strengths and needs. This, in turn, helps them feel responsible for their own learning. Children also enjoy comparing examples of their past work with what they are doing in the present. You can help your children recognize their own progress by asking questions and commenting as they compare such things as drawings or photographs of math manipulatives, block structures, or writing samples.

A Method of Communication. Portfolios are a collaborative effort involving teachers, children, parents, and often other family members too. They are great to share at family-teacher conferences. (You might want to involve individual children in these sharing times and together use the portfolio to illustrate efforts, progress, and achievement.) Some early childhood programs sponsor "Portfolio Days," a special time when parents and other family members come in to look at and enjoy portfolios.

Archive Important Work for Future Use and Reference. Students are able to store most impressive items of work for future reference. With the frequency and multitude of assignments a student completes, it can be difficult to store and keep track of particular works of art, especially items created farther into the past. Depending on hosting restrictions, work can then be accessed at a later time for any purpose the student may intend it for.


Benefits of ePortfolioseport.gif

For students...
  • opportunity to reflect on educational experiences
  • ability to showcase best work in digital suppository
  • organized archive to store artifacts
  • enables integration of features like sound, music and relational links
  • understand and see results of intended outcomes of learning
  • opportunity to draw connections within curriculum
  • legitimizes importance of work completed
  • Continuous learning and assessment, students can make modifications and enhance their work from feedback

increased learning effectiveness
  • a means to reflect on and showcase best work
  • increased collaboration
  • enhance and demonstrate information technology skills
  • reflections on artifacts as well as how they match goals and standards
  • make connections between formal and informal learningOrganizational_levels_of_e-Portfolio_Development.gif
  • learners articulate their learning goals from different perspectives
  • allow students to display learning in creative ways
  • helps connect educational goals with personal experiences

For teachers...
  • align objectives and evaluation strategies
  • concrete evidence of student learning
  • allows for more effective advising
  • leverage student motivation

For institutions...
  • evaluate progress on meeting institutional and state goals
  • artifacts serve as a vehicle for assessing learning outcomes at the course, program and institutional levels

Disadvantages/Items to Consider when Establishing an e-Portfolio System

  • As e-Portfolios accumulate and grow year after year they take up more server space and require more system maintenance.
  • How long will institutions support your e-Portfolio and to the e-Portfolio tool you utilized?
  • Who owns the e-Portfolio - does the institution providing the e-Portfolio system own or have certain right to students archived works? Who can make changes to the portfolio, who can use the archived documents?
  • How to establish a student and teacher culture where both parties understand how to effectively use an e-Portfolio system in learner centered, developmental, and reflective way? Is training needed?
    • What is the level of computer skills of the teachers?
    • What is the level of technology competency of the student and independence in using a computer?
    • What is the access to computers by students?
  • What mechanisms will be put in place and standardized to ensure evaluation of e-Portfolios is both valid, reliable, and fair?
  • What is the scope of the assessment? Including what is the time frame to be included in the portfolio?
  • How will results be linked to the curriculum?
  • Will student portfolios be used to assess individual students or student cohorts (i.e. graduating seniors, freshman, etc)?
  • Has a rubric been created to help guide student development of their e-Portfolio? Has that rubric been provided to the student? See the Rubrics wiki for tips on what characterizes and good rubric.
  • Will you take a teacher-centered or student-centered approach?

Five steps for developing an effective electronic portfolio:

  1. Selection: this stage is defined by the identification of the purpose of the ePortfolio. Knowing the audience is of great import and is the guiding factor in5stages.png determining the criterion for selecting artifacts. It may also determine the proper format for the ePortfolio.

  2. Collection: this is the stage most commonly thought of when discussing ePortfolios - the gathering and sorting of artifacts. This critical stage also includes the selection of appropriate artifacts and the dismissal of others, with the aforementioned "Selection" stage playing a critical role. This stage also allows the developer some level of self-expression and personality.

  3. Reflection: while often neglected, this stage is set apart as it allows the developer to learn and grow from the progress - or lack thereof - in the construction of the ePortfolio. This is the formative stage of the ePortfolio's evaluation. Thoughtful developers may ask if the artifacts are appropriate? Do they convey the desired message of development and competency? Are they and the overall presentation well-suited to the intended audience? Are there areas in which the developer could or should set future objectives?

  4. Connection: as a unique attribute of the ePortfolio, this stage focuses on the work being dynamic. The creation of hypertext links and publications, providing the opportunity for navigation within and without the ePortfolio. It also affords the opportunity for summative assessment from others.

  5. Presentation: as its ultimate purpose, the ePortfolio is destined to a presentation to an audience, often during the critical employment search process. It is meant to prope rly celebrate the growth and achievements of the developer. While the fundamental goal of the ePortfolio may be to gain employment, it should also be viewed as ongoing tool of the developer so that they are encourage to continue to advance.

Categories of ePortfolio Tools

Tips on Managing ePortfolios

Create a system. Skilled observation is an essential component of compiling meaningful portfolios, and this takes time and practice. To maximize your effectiveness, you will probably need to try several methods of observing and recording before you find a method that reflects your personal style.

Develop a plan. As part of your weekly planning, decide on a focus for your observations. For instance, you might decide to observe two or three specific children a day; the same group of six children for a week; or one particular developmental area, such as fine-motor development or creative expression.

Be prepared. In addition to honing your observation skills and developing a system for recording them, prepare a variety of tools to help you carry out your observations efficiently and effectively.

Get feedback. One of the primary attributes of the ePortfolio is its accessibility. Allowing others to view, and eliciting constructive criticism can play a key role in maintaining a successful ePortfolio.

Examples of Professional ePortfolios

http://sites.helenbarrett.net/portfolio/ (using google sites)
http://eportfolios.wikispaces.com/ (using wikispaces)
https://college.livetext.com/doc/475819/ (using livetext)

View a eportfolio created in 37 different ways: http://electronicportfolios.org/myportfolio/index.html