Many of us still visualise portfolios as large folders that an artist carries their drawings in.
An ePortfolio is an electronic collection of evidence that showcase an individual’s skills, qualities, achievements and capabilities. The pieces of evidence are often referred to as “artefacts” and can include documents, audio and video files, as well as images. The evidence collected might include assessments, activities and achievements, plans and goals, feedback, and reflections. Dare I say it, an ePortfolio could be used as a repository.
Where ePortfolios come into their own, is when they are used as a working space, with snapshots that help the individual, mentors, and relevant contributors of feedback. Using ePortfolios is now considered a valid approach to providing structured support to teaching and learning.
There are various ePortfolio tools available, paid and free. There is a current fashion for encouraging the establishment of ePortfolios for students to evidence learning, and in some cases this has lead institutes to either provide a portfolio website to students or to make recommendations on external websites to use.
ePortfolios can be collaborative, rather than an individual’s artefacts. Many ePortfolio tools provide methods for interaction and communication between contributors or assessors.
Some ePortfolio tools provide the user with the ability to create “views” for different audiences, allowing the user to have a public view, a mentor view, an assessment view, a potential employer view, etc. This creates safe environments for the user to utilise their ePortfolio as a reflective honest learning space, whilst not compromising the use of their ePortfolio for demonstration of current competency.
Teachers’ professional ePortfolios
Teachers should be encouraged to have a professional ePortfolio as a development and reflection tool. It gives teachers a framework to model good practice to the students.
What happens in NZ?
The Ministry of Education in New Zealand is providing the MyPortfolio School website free to schools until at least 2013. Some tertiary institutes used the shared MyPortfolio Tertiary website for continuing student portfolios into higher education. Both of these websites use the open source Mahara portfolio software.
Some of the tools being used for ePortfolios are:
- The future belongs to those who take charge of their own learning (Jane Hart, UK)
- Digital portfolios: guidelines for beginners (Ministry of Education, NZ)