Student portfolios (especially digital versions) are a great idea. By providing the time and the means for students to collect things that document their challenges and successes, students become more meta-cognitive and invested in their growth and learning. However, the reality for many students (and teachers) is that portfolios have become a chore, a stale exercise -- but it doesn't have to be this way.
An ePortfolio (electronic portfolio) is an electronic collection of evidence that shows your learning journey over time. Portfolios can relate to specific academic fields or your lifelong learning. Evidence may include writing samples, photos, videos, research projects, observations by mentors and peers, and/or reflective thinking. The key aspect of an eportfolio is your reflection on the evidence, such as why it was chosen and what you learned from the process of developing your eportfolio. (Adapted from Philippa Butler’s “Review of the Literature on Portfolios and Eportfolios” (2006), page 2.)
An ePortfolio is not a specific software package, but more a combination of process (a series of activities) and product (the end result of the ePortfolio process). Presentation portfolios can be created using a variety of tools, both computer desktop tools and online (Barrett, 2000; Barrett, 2004-2008). Most commercial ePortfolio tools are focused on the product (right-hand) side of the diagram above, although some open source tools contain some of the Web 2.0-type tools that enhance the process (left-hand) side of the diagram, such as blogs, social networking, and RSS feeds.
Use of portfolios in education has waxed and wanted for decades. Yet, I see three persistent reasons why educators and schools keep coming back to them. While these three reasons are related in that they provide direct evidence of learning and accomplishments, they have three distinct ultimate ends.
ePortfolio is not the technology but the ways eportfolio technology is used and the significance of those uses. “ePortfolio” is a learning concept and is also a research field and a community of practice. There is theory behind “eportfolio” that preceded the “e” and continues today.
Because of the nomenclature confusion, eportfolio advocates in education have difficulty answering the question “what is an eportfolio?”
The eportfolio movement – academia and industry – has helped a technology and an idea grow despite the fact that the eportfolio idea does not fit the common university business model (endorse only learning done in courses at the college or university) nor the common university learning model (teaching-centered). ePortfolio is a revolutionary idea – learners own their own learning??!!??
Take a look at the fantastic presentations that the grade 8’s created as they researched the value of E portfolios in 21st Century Learning environments! The tools used for presenting were, Google Slides, Prezi, Youtube and Scratch. Great first go grade 8!
Although the use of portfolios as part of the learning process isn’t new, “the shift to an online, multimodal vehicle for expression has added new dimensions to online, hybrid and classroom learning, assessment and curriculum development,” said Katherine Heenan. Heenan is a lecturer with ASU writing programs in the Department of English; senior lecturer with Barrett, The Honors College; and co-led the pilot project with professor Shirley Rose.
“By making their writing visible to the public online, to an audience that extends beyond a teacher or other students, students are much more invested in their work,” Heenan said. “The ePortfolio can also be directly linked to career development and job applications after graduation.”
The eportfolio community has grappled with CBE for years in the guise of “tracking students’ progress toward learning outcomes.” Years ago, the focus on outcomes seemed antithetical to the kind of learning our community believed in – reflective, integrative, creative, authentic, experiential. Our community was divided along the line dividing the two uses for eportfolio technology – institutional research (tracking student outcomes) or for improved learning. Now CBE has carried the tracking toward outcomes to a higher degree and also toward a specialized use of eportfolio – not so much a learning space but more so a credentialing space, recording what assessment tasks have been accomplished.
Literacy is generally recognized as the ability to decipher, use and understand the secondary code of a language – that is, writing and reading. The term “digital literacy” has become a catchall referring to skills with digital applications. But actual literacy in this digital era is more than just being able to use digital applications. Reading and writing has been linear up until recently. But, now, with links and multi-modal presentation of information, literacy skills are more varied and challenging, both in interpretation and in creation.
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