This week we’ve been delving into some papers on the drivers behind the use of eportfolios and their developments. This has been a challenging activity due to the requirement to collaborate in a group wiki, bringing together our thinking and coming to some level of consensus.
The biggest challenge has been the time factor (isn’t it always). I for one have struggled to get do all the required reading and then get online until later in the week, leaving others to lead the way.
Apart from the logistics, it has been a really useful activity. The week before I was struggling to understand what an eportfolio was, and like others I was getting caught up in the ‘process’ of choosing the technology rather than focusing on the ‘purpose’ of an eportfolio.
From the reading I’ve done this week I now have a clearer idea of what an eportolio is, and what it can be used for. Like a print equivalent, an eportfolio can be seen as a collection of ‘documents’ and material evidence of an individuals’ progress, their learning and achievements, their reflections on this and also a record of their personal development and career planning. An individual can present evidence from their portfolio for formal assessment as well as sharing selected evidence of achievements to support a job application or promotion.
This portfolio can be a simple folder system stored on an individuals computer hard drive or in one of the many available online portfolio packages (Mahara, Pebblepad, foliofor.me, Dropbox, Googledocs etc).
The paper by Beetham (2003) gave a useful summary of the applications of eportfolios and the challenges faced by institutions and organisations encouraging their adoption by learners. I’ll be writing more about the drivers for their use in an another post.
Eportfolios were described as having the potential to support the following:
- summative assessment – providing evidence of meeting defined criteria
- learning and the learning process – helping learners identify their strengths and weaknesses and helping others support learners based on identified learner preferences
- presentation – the sharing of relevant evidence in support of a job application or similar
- personal and professional development planning – the process of reflection on progress and identifying next steps and how to achieve these in lifelong learning
For an institution there can also be administrative and management benefits, supporting the presentation of evidence of learning for formal assessment and accreditation.
A 2007 report from Becta provided evidence of the use of eportfolios in teaching across the range of education sectors from primary, through secondary and on to FE, HE and to adult and community learning. A key finding was the benefit of eportfolios when seen as “part of a joined-up teaching and learning approach, rather than as a discrete entity.”
Not having engaged with computers until starting work (and still struggling with technology years later) I was amazed at the use of eportfolios and technology with primary age children. They really will have the skills and competencies for lifelong technology-enhanced learning!
Becta (2007) ‘Impact of e-portfolios on learning’.
Beetham, H. (2003) ‘E-portfolios in post-16 learning in the UK: developments, issues and opportunities’ (online), JISC.