What is an ePortfolio?
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.
The real value of an e-portfolio is in the reflection and learning that is documented therein, not just the collection of work. In fact, here are two of my favorite quotes from a book and a resource created by JISC in the UK:
” The overarching purpose of portfolios is to create a sense of personal ownership over one’s accomplishments, because ownership engenders feelings of pride, responsibility, and dedication.” (p.10) – Paris & Ayres.(1994)
” The e-portfolio is the central and common point for the student experience. It is a reflection of the student as a person undergoing continuous personal development, not just a store of evidence.” (Geoff Rebbeck, e-Learning Coordinator, Thanet College, quoted in JISC, 2008)
One of the best sources I have ever found on electronic portfolios is several sites by Dr. Helen Barrett.