e-Portfolios – tail wagging dog!

E-portfolio are at the heart of the lifelong learning agenda, that is allowing the construction of a portable e-portfolio that can accompany someone from pre-compulsory education, through school education, HE, and beyond. Thinking broad is essential, portfolios may include material produced in connection with work, school projects and assessments, a record of someone’s HE experience, perhaps digital photographs taken on holiday, etc.

The next important point to grasp is that e-portfolios need granularity. That is the ability to share different parts with different audiences for particular purposes. For example, a University undergraduate may author a reflective piece to share with their tutor. School age students may collaborate together on a project and then share this work on the www with the ability for other people to comment upon. Someone in employment may develop a personal development plan that they chose to share with a line manager. The list is nearly endless, but the key issues to consider are audience and purpose. Who am I authoring for and what is my purpose?

e-Poertfolio and weblogs have much in common as a tool for promoting reflective thinking. The difference, it is argued, is that e-Portfolio provide a greater degree of context enabling artefacts and reflections to be linked in a rich tapestry with a second loop of reflection to draw out the deeper learning. Weblogs focus is much more about the individual entry, although clearly can also be set in context by the degree of linking and using categories. Personally, I am not convinced that this is a significant difference.

Death by e-Portfolio, a real risk! This is a vexed question as the notion of e-Portfolios are founded on the ideas of personalisation and choice, and yet there is growth in compunction from HE on other institutions to develop e-portfolios. This could be for a range of reasons such as an institutions desire to have a QA audit of achievement. Tutors framing learning experiences that require individuals to have e-portfolios for assessment purposes.

Most advantageously however are e-portfolio that start from the learner and, disturbingly, in the conversations I have heard about e-portfolio this gets no more than lip service. There seems to be the view that if the technical issues are sorted (IMS standards, etc) then all will be well and learners will embrace e-portfolio like ducks to water. But why should they?

1 thought on “e-Portfolios – tail wagging dog!

  1. Glen

    I agree with your comments here Stephen. Looking at OSP2 it appears to be hooked into the LMS/Course/Assesment type mindset rather than the life long reflective learner type model. I must also say that I didn’t find the interface at all intuitive, will be interested in catching up with you when you are back to discuss portfolio options for centre4


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