The e-portfolio as a tool

Useful links

A helpful animation introducing e-portfolios: http://youtu.be/6B3tujXlbdk...

An e-portfolio is a collection of learning materials representing the work of students or academic staff. It can contain a variety of file types which can be shared for feedback or kept private for individual reflection. E-portfolios can be used for student advising, career preparation, and to showcase progress through a course or programme of study. Academic staff can use e-portfolios to document scholarship, highlight teaching philosophies, and share best practices.

With formal and informal e-portfolio systems you can plan out a strategy for your students to save the artefacts of their learning. The key features are the storage and retrieval of files, and the ability to comment or provide feedback on the work of students or academic staff.

Even if your institution does not have an e-portfolio system, you can explore the possibilities for integrating e-portfolios into your online teaching. In the next activity you can review the features of e-portfolio systems, and consider the different approaches to working with these robust tools.

Even if your institution does not have an e-portfolio system, you can explore the possibilities for integrating e-portfolios into your online teaching. The following paragraphs will help you to review the features of e-portfolio systems, and consider the different approaches to working with these robust tools.

In the following activity, click on each section to find out more about e-portfolios.

Video interview

In the following video, Dr. Patsie Polly, Senior Lecturer in Pathology at...

In the following interview, Dr. Patsie Polly, Senior Lecturer in Pathology...

Learning e-portfolios

Learning e-portfolios are used to document student learning, and to guide progress over time. You can ask students to save all work from a course or programme, and add feedback to help guide their progression through the learning process.


Assessment e-portfolios

Assessment e-portfolios are used to measure competencies and to assess levels of learning that have been met. They are commonly used to evaluate prior learning experience and document competencies.


Personal/professional e-portfolios

Personal/professional development e-portfolios are used to document career developments and activities related to future planning. Commonly, they are used to document teacher training and academic staff development to demonstrate evidence related to set standards.


Presentation e-portfolios

Presentation e-portfolios are used to showcase the work of students or academic staff and are commonly used in fine arts disciplines.


Group e-portfolios

Group e-portfolios are used to showcase group project work and are commonly used for collaborative academic research and grant-funded projects.

Implementing an e-portfolio project

Some of the things to keep in mind when implementing e-portfolios include:

  • Privacy settings: Determine which artefacts should be private, and which should have open access. Be sure to articulate content privacy policy to your students.
  • Storage space: Find out how much space is available for each student before assigning projects that may have large files.
  • Device access: Check to see if students can access their e-portfolio space on mobile devices and tablets.
  • Portability: Make sure that students will have access to their files once the course or programme has been completed. Check for import and export functionality and encourage students to keep a back-up of their work.

mobile devices

Smartphones and tablets; in the context of online learning, they can be used to access learning content and to participate in learning activities.

Take a moment to reflect on the ways that you can use e-portfolios in your online or blended teaching.

In the following activity, match the e-portfolio types on the left-hand side with the corresponding practice on the right by clicking on the boxes you wish to connect.
You will now be presented with a list of different kinds of e-portfolio, followed by a list of corresponding practices relating to the different types of e-portfolio. Consider which practice matches with which type of e-portfolio. Then continue on to check if you are correct.

Types of e-portfolio

  • Group e-portfolios
  • Learning e-portfolio
  • Professional e-portfolios
  • Presentation e-portfolios
  • Assessment e-portfolios.

Practices

  • Academic staff document their skills and achievements for review and career advancement
  • Students save their work as they progress through their courses or programmes
  • Students share creative work for review and comment from their peers
  • Students provide proof of prior learning for assessment and the award of credits
  • Academic staff collaborate on documents and required resources related to a grant proposal.

Now check to see if you are correct.

Correctly matched pairs

  • Learning e-portfolio: Students save their work as they progress through their courses or programmes
  • Professional e-portfolios: Academic staff document their skills and achievements for review and career advancement
  • Assessment e-portfolios: Students provide proof of prior learning for assessment and the award of credits
  • Presentation e-portfolios: Students share creative work for review and comment from their peers
  • Group e-portfolios: Academic staff collaborate on documents and required resources related to a grant proposal.
Do this icon

The key to successful use of e-portfolios is the ability to export all content for continued access and use when your students (or you) are no longer involved in that learning community, or when the e-portfolio system is no longer available. Before you begin an e-portfolio project, check all import and export features available to ensure portability!


Useful links

Interview

In the following interview, Dr. Patsie Polly, Senior Lecturer in Pathology at the University of New South Wales, discusses the work that she has done with e-portfolios.

Can you describe the work you have done with e-portfolios?

Dr. Patsie Polly
Senior Lecturer in Pathology, School of Medical Sciences, University of New South Wales

So, the work I've done on e-portfolios and how it can actually help a tutor assess whether the student has learnt effectively revolves around teaching students about authentic assessment tasks and how to approach those tasks. For example, in research communication, writing and oral presentation. And linking the e-portfolio to that assessment task. What that has done is allow the student to reflect on their learning process and write about it, document it in an e-portfolio. And this happens in tasks that we provide to students in second- and third-year pathology courses that are research-focused tasks.


What are the advantages of e-portfolios for students? What are the advantages for tutors?

The strengths of e-portfolios for students are their use in developing reflective practice, understanding that the skills that they're developing through, for example assessment tasks, are valuable in preparing for career. Tutors actually have an interest in e-portfolio because it allows them to gauge how well a student has learnt, also looking at the reflection process, and also understanding whether those skills have been documented appropriately. It's about the process, not necessarily the product. The product will happen, but then if you can't monitor the process you don't know how much development has taken place.