March 20, 2011

E-portfolios for Learning


It has been generally acknowledged that e-portfolios are primarily developed for ongoing learning, showcase, and assessment and that one e-portfolio system does not fit all purposes. If we are interested in the academic success and co-curricular accomplishments of our students through self-motivation, engagement, reflection, and ownership, then a learning portfolio nurtured over time has significant potential in being developed for life after graduation.

There are many e-portfolio tools and systems available, none of which provides the perfect solution to all institutional assessment and student learning needs. Google Sites for Education has only recently been considered for portfolio development but offers promising solutions to effectively build learning, assessment, and showcase portfolios including artifact storage, privacy control, collaboration, reflection, and ownership. Although orientation, training, and ongoing support are strongly recommended, Google Sites is easy-to-use and provides built-in tools to insert evidence of extended learning from sources such as social media sites.

Additionally please find below related links to student examples, portals, e-portfolio program sites, articles, and publications.

Student Career E-portfolios

A career or professional e-portfolio is a high motivator for students - it's purpose is to get them a job. Employers are increasingly recognizing the value of these e-portfolios as an important supplement to their resumes.

E-portfolios - Assessment of Learning

A summative, assessment or assessment of learning e-portfolio is used by institutions to determine if a student has met specific standards and achieved academic or professional goals.

E-portfolios for Learning

The purpose of e-portfolios for learning (also known as a development, formative, reflective or self-assessment) is to have students engage in their own deep and continuous reflection, learn more about themselves, and take ownership of their e-portfolio over time.

E-portfolio Portals and Programs


  1. From our experience, it's important to distinguish collection portfolios from showcase portfolios and understand the transactional nature of creating and managing the showcase portfolio.

    Too often practitioners get caught up on the glamor of the showcase and stall when students end up having students re-create the collection piece because the instructional practice does not naturally embrace more authentic performance-based assessment projects and activities.


    Shane Krukowski
    Project-based Learning Systems, LLC
    Milwaukee, WI

  2. With respect, that is because your tool is not versatile enough. It is imperative that students have ONE tool that meets a range of requirements, that artefacts can be uploaded once and yet used for a variety of purposes etc.

    At any one moment in time a student might be using the ePortfolio for a variety of purposes. Even a single artefact might be used for different purposes. (such as peer-review, expert technical detail, English mentor etc).

    If you really believe that an ePortfolio should be both lifewide and lifelong then you should be seriously looking beyond the limitations of your present system.

    Kindest Regards,
    Ray T

  3. The thing that I find amazing about e-portfolios is how intensely personal they are and how that inspires passion and debate in the e-portfolio community :-)

    Google Sites is a good choice (IMO) and offers flexibility and all important integration with existing digital identity. I'm not sure how important the tools are as long as they support the framework you create; allow the user to collate not just artifacts but digital streams (e.g. twitter, rss, flickr); and are either owned for life or transportable (LEAP2A).

    A couple of points I've learned from reading research papers (you probably know already) is that they do need to be assessed in some way and they do need to be scaffolded for younger learners. There's nothing worse than staring at a blank page...

    Thanks for sharing what you've learned. I'll check out the links now.


  4. Lee,

    You say "that they do need to be assessed". Is this institutional/silo thinking?

    When parents start putting together the life-story of their new-born, is this to be "assessed"? When a 5-yr old puts up a picture or recording of a poem or song, and when his peers make comments, is this "assessment"? When a teenager shares opinons about a pop-group through their eP will that be "assessed"? When an adult uses the eP to collaborate with others in some Community of Practice is this eP being "assessed"?

    What I am suggesting is that in none of these cases do we see formal "assessment" but yet in every case the audience will be making some 'assessment' of what they see.

  5. Ray I do love it when our virtual paths cross!I really respect your opinions and I totally agree with you most of the time. I do know that research has shown that assessment has been a critical success factor in trainee teacher e-portfolios. It doesn't sit well with me either but presumably when you have people less motivated than you and me then it's all about inertia - maybe once we ignite the spark it's easy to keep the momentum going but when something is new there's needs to be a wee push or maybe it's more the guaranteed audience...what do you think?

  6. Lee, Just two more points before we get thrown of this blog!

    Firstly, the issue of assessing trainee teachers' ePs. Ask a dog to jump through a burning hoop and it will - in order to please its master. Yes, you've guessed it, trainee teachers will jump through any hoop if it will give them the grades. As such I do not think that such a requirement does a lot for enabling the trainees to catch the vision of how the eP is just the answer to liberated pedagogy. Demanding ePs before the pedagogy is in place is much like putting the cart before the horse.

    Secondly, the problem of apparent inertia needs understanding and resolving once and for all. Dr Helen Barrett was using Portfolios in her teaching long before the 'e' came along (as did many others including myself) and for the last 15 years (I think) she has been preaching the 'gospel of ePortfolios'. The team in Minnesota started developing eFolio some 9 years ago and despite this being the most versatile ePortfolio tool I know and despite it being so highly successful with many thousands of users, I do not know why so many institutions still have their proverbial heads stuck firmly in the sand.

  7. I wonder if rather than assessment per se it is the guarantee that it will be viewed by someone that creates the success. I think everyone agrees an e-portfolio needs an audience...

    Of course the embedding of e-portfolio use in schools completes removes this argument. There's no doubt in my mind we will reach a point in the near future where maintaining a lifelong, life-wide e-portfolio will be the norm. (And a key driver are these assessment-driven e-portfolios that have been the basis of much of the research of the past 10 years.)

    Another point is that many people are still not comfortable with reflective writing, especially if they have no experience of it and are out of education. If an organisation or institution wants to begin to use e-portfolios what to you advise in order to promote adoption? And what do you advise those who have an e-portfolio tool that noone is using?

  8. Promoting adoption IMHO is all about pride of ownership. - If the learner is able, at any age, to arrange and format their eP in such a way as to say "Look, This is ME!" and if that learner is able to share ideas with peers and to reflect on their opinions we have a medium that can embrace all the educational virtues of feedback and mentoring etc and even tapping into what I call 'Facebook mania'.

    The learner can present to different audiences (eg peers, tutor, mentor, assessor, admissions officer or potential employer different 'views' using any combination of artefacts for different purposes.


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