Wednesday, 24 October 2012

The Purpose of the ePortfolio

For my part, the real value of the ePortfolios is in the reflection and the learning. Making the connections between the ePortfolio and learning is paramount.

" 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." - 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)

The whole purpose(s) behind asking students to keep ePortfolios must be developed in collaboration with all involved - the teacher, the student, the parent. The purposes need to be clear, and uppermost in the development of the ePortfolio - if there is no real reason for doing something, then the act of doing it needs to be questioned.

Our purposes for our student ePortfolios include:
- reflective thinking and goal setting
- personalising learning
- development of formative assessment
- student voice
- creativity
- building a learning community
- celebrating success
- collaboration in learning
- providing a tool to facilitate lifelong learning
- understanding future steps of own learning

NEXT in this series - The Importance of Reflection

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Types of ePortfolios

ePortfolios can take on different formats and can serve many purposes.   The ways ePortfolios are used can vary greatly from owner to owner, and is dependent on the needs of that owner.

Some may wish to create an ePortfolio to deliver a personal brand.   This type of ePortfolio would typically showcase the skills of the owner and would include samples of work that show those skills.   It could be used as a CV for prospective employers or customers.   This type of ePortfolio helps to build the personal identity of the owner.

Others want to create an ePortfolio that documents achievement.   It would show ratings against standards or criteria, and would need to include a system for the collection of that data.

Thirdly, the ePortfolio for learning would provide a platform for reflection and metacognition.   Reflecting of current learning and the setting of goals would be paramount.  This type of ePortfolio is not so focussed on outcomes and assessment, but would show progress over time, and the processes used during the learning.

There is also a place for a combination of two or all of the above types of ePortfolios.   The format can be quite fluid and reflect the needs of the owner at that particular point in time.   Most students at school would use a combination of all three at some point in time.

For instance, a student's ePortfolio for learning may involve some goal setting and reflection of a current unit of inquiry.  Included in this would be the process of conducting the inquiry, the progress made during the inquiry, the outcome of the inquiry and the product (or summative task) after the inquiry was completed.   The audience for this series of ePortfolio entries would change from self to others during the course of the inquiry, and likewise the feedback would fluctuate between formative and summative depending on the stage of the task in hand.

NEXT in this series: Why Keep an ePortfolio.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

ePortfolios: Hype or Help?

This is the first in a series of blog posts discussing pedagogy and purpose of ePortfolios.

“An e-portfolio is an electronic format for learners to record their work, their
achievements and their goals, to reflect on their learning, and to share and be
supported in this. It enables learners to represent the information in different
formats and to take the information with them as they move between institutions.”  
     (Banks, (2004) e-Portfolios: Their Use and Benefits.)

ePortfolios are more than a buzzword. At the moment there is much talk and debate about them, but in reality an ePortfolio is able to create the environment to develop self-directed learners who are responsible for their learning.  The many types of ePortfolios reflect the many needs of learners today.

ePortfolios can provide evidence of learning and be used to support learning that is driven by goal setting and reflection, helping students to understand their next learning steps.   It is useful in developing student engagement, understanding and enabling student ownership of the learning process.

They can empower students to take responsibility for their own learning and can improve student self-esteem through providing the students with an portal through which they can display, and take pride in, their work.

The advantage of the ePortfolio is in the ability to gather all evidence of learning together in one place, regardless of the format of the evidence (text, image, media, etc) and being able to hyperlink the evidence so that it makes sense to the learner, who is able to identify with the connections.    

The real learning comes not from the inclusion of the evidence of learning which is simply the finished product, but from the rationale, understandings and significance it has for the student.

NEXT in this series: Types of ePortfolios and their purposes.