rethinking eportfolios

Sometimes I think you have to get back to basics. The common digital denominator of everyone at the university has to be some form of PC or Mac, propriety or open source, Office suite.  So why not look at how an eportfolio could be created using Office? Then you could focus on the benefits of creating electronic profiles rather than the digital learning curve required to produce them. Criteria such as portability and interoperability have value but if engagement is a key issue then familiarity with the software must be more important. Eportfolio documents could be uploaded to Google but does a URL have to be a crucial component? There are still cd-roms or data sticks. Storage is cheap. Employers wanting electronic profiles will prefer digital data in a format they’re familiar rather than not at all.

We’re not getting there with e-portfolios. Even if they were part of the assessment process or of CPD you’d still have a digital divide with the software. Give someone a tool they’re familiar with and they’ll use it. Give them one they’ve never seen before and you drastically cut the chances of it being utilized.  At the end of the day the prime purpose of an e-porfolio is an electronic record of who you are, and what you have to offer, so surely it’s the content that matters rather than the packaging.

2 Replies to “rethinking eportfolios”

  1. Absolutely. If you want to construct your own portfolio using your favourite software tool, then by all means go nuts. In fact a large proportion of portfolio artefacts are already created using those tools.

    What e-portfolio software does is provide a framework for connecting and categorising these artefacts, and exercising some control over how you organise them, how you present them, and who you share them with. These are issues you need to think about in advance. Different packages have different merits, but I don’t think they’re inherently off putting. Of course learning something new is difficult and challenging. That’s why we we do it.

    I agree we’re not getting there with portfolios, (“e” or not) but I think the reason we’re not getting there is that creating a learning journal, (which is basically what a portfolio is), involves reflecting on things, recording your reflections and this demands time and space. (quite a lot of time and space actually) It’s a slow process trying to carve a niche for itself in a fast culture.

  2. Oh, Dear!

    It appears that we are still thinking INSIDE the box. Why not use an e-Portfolio system that can use any platform and preferred software? If the system is html/xhtml based and hosted externally you have a system that is completely portable and thus Lifelong. – And at about £5.00 per year, or less, why be bothered with trying to reinvent the wheel?

    Please remember that the e-Portfolio is not just for the minority of people who spend a relatively short time in university. It seems logical to me that any well-developed e-Portfolio system should be capable of meeting the needs and abilities of all stratas of society. Too many people are doing vast amounts of self-indulgent research, only thinking of the needs of FE/HE. This approach can only create a ‘silo product’ which cannot be used by others outside of FE/HE.

    Kind Regards,
    Ray T.

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