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Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Creative Thinking

Or for the full title, 'Twelve Things You Were Not Taught in School About Creative Thinking'.  I like this article because it covers a lot of ground related to ePortfolio thinking.  Not that I think that the title is necessarily totally true. - Well, not here in the UK anyway.  For almost 50 years I and my colleagues have been teaching problem solving and product design.  Even when I moved over to ICT the same principles exist:  that of identification or discovery of a need, of suggesting a variety of solutions, some more crazy than others, until a rational proposal can be put forward and worked upon.

This should be at the heart of ePortfolio thinking:   the ownership of learning through the personal discovery and generation of solutions that others might accept.  It is about personal integrity, communication skills, work ethic, recognition of audience etc.

And, of course, where better to present such personally owned solutions than in an eFolio?

Monday, 28 November 2011

ePIC 2012, the 10th ePortfolio and Identity Conference

Should everybody have an ePortfolio? How do ePortfolios contribute to the identity construction process? How do ePortfolios support the acquisition of 21st century skills? How do ePortfolios support lifelong learning, orientation and employability? How can we make ePortfolios fully interoperable? To find the answers to these questions, and more, join us at ePIC 2012, the 10th ePortfolio and Identity Conference, 9-10-11 July 2012, at the IET, Savoy Place, London. 

ePIC 2012, London 9-10-11 July 2012, will mark the 10th anniversary of the International ePortfolio and Identity Conference. We would be delighted to celebrate this special event with you and all those who have contributed to the success of previous conferences. It would be a great honour and pleasure for us if you accepted to submit a contribution or simply join us next July in London. It will be a wonderful opportunity to meet colleagues of a truly international community to, one more time, move forward the "state of the art" in the field of ePortfolio and identity construction. EPIC 2012 will also host the second ePortfolio World Summit (after Boston in 2011).

If you cannot attend ePIC 2012, please keep us posted on the latest developments in your area and forward the information about ePIC 2012 to people who might be interested to join our ePortfolio and Identity Community.

You will find below the information relative to the ePIC 2012 call for contributions
We look forward to hearing from you and your projects!

Serge and Esther, Europortfolio

Friday, 11 November 2011

Significant Context

When studying theology we are always taught to look at any statement in terms of its context ie the culture, the authority of speaker, the capabilities of the listener, the topic in question etc, etc.  And no more so than in today's constructivist mode of teaching and learning.

Following on from a recent NAACE discussion on LinkedIn, I suggested the above graphic as illustrating the inter-connectedness of three primary areas of the Curricula, the Skills & Competencies and the various Motivations that energise teacher and learner alike.  It is my firm belief that not one of these three areas can be considered in isolation but that the specific context within which the learner is placed can unite the relevant portions of each.

A well-organised ePortfolio can very effectively document all of these five areas and also show their inter-relatednesses. - As an afterthough, it is my instinctive nature to expect to see all of these five areas clearly considered within a student's ePortfolio.  A balance of all five will give the reader of an ePortfolio a clear sense of a 'well-rounded' person.

Friday, 21 October 2011

New wine into old bottles?

Or is it old wine into new bottles?  Anyhow, the above graphic amused me because it illustrates the old didactic 'me in charge' approach to teaching and learning rather than the constructivist approach to learning that allows some degree of individuality of learning, at one's own best speed, using a variety of tools and learning styles.

This is Oh, so true of ePortfolios.  On my Scoop/it! site ( )  I try to display a number of real active ePortfolios, not so much as to say which is right or wrong but to raise discussion.  One comment made is that most of the examples are somewhat 'old fashioned, little more than a CV.' and this is so true.  what I am waiting to see is a new breed, or 'Second Generation ePortfolio' which demonstrates the true dynamic potential of the ePortfolio as being the best tool for collaboration, peer-review and 'interuptive feedback'.  eFolio, to my mind is the perfect tool to make this all happen.

Secondly, I have another! site (  ) which attempts to collate some of the best apps or tools that might help this approach to learning.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

An Introduction to ePortfolios

A nice presentation focussed on preparation for the job-interview. The problem is that an ePortfolio can be used for so many other things. It would be good to see such a clear and straightforward approach being used to present on 'constructivism', feedback, peer-review etc. Another presentation could deal with using the one set of artefacts spread across different personas.  And yet another, more delicate activity, might be an illustration of how Faculty put together an Institution ePortfolio.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

eFolio and the top 10 Added Values

A sliding word puzzle for Added Values
I was recently asked, "What is the Added Value of your eFolio system?"  -  and that got me thinking.  It's not so much the saving of money, but that IS a major advantage, it is all the other extras that go to make up an effective product that does not need the "Oh, by the way, this will also cost you..."  The picture of the sliding block puzzle says it all.  There are many different issues to setting up an ePortfolio system and all of these need to be slid into place from an otherwise incoherent jumble of bits.
So here is my list of the top 10 Added Values of eFolio:

  1. Pride of ownership of a unique ePortfolio
  2. Institutional identity through bespoke banner
  3. True low-cost Lifelong and Lifewide ownership
  4. No problems of conventional portability
  5. Ease of access by readers/assessors through clear menus
  6. Ability to switch on/off a range of feedback tools on any page
  7. Ability to integrate other web-based tools/services
  8. Ability to create multiple views of "self"
  9. Ability to use selected artefacts for alternative personas
  10. 10 years experience of eFolio providing 24/7/365 educational support

Monday, 10 October 2011

The hierarchical structure of an ePortfolio

I came across a very thought provoking paper:  by Assit. Prof. Dr. Nilgün TOSUN, Trakya University, Faculty of Education, Edirne, TURKEY, head of Computer and Education Instructional Technologies Department and thesis advisor to M. Fatih BARIŞ, a teacher at Tekirdağ Technical and Vocational School, Tekirdag, TURKEY. As you can see from this diagram, the versatility of the ePortfolio can allow for divers uses of artefacts as opposed to the traditional linear way of working.

In mainstream education this could be taken even further by replicating the above graphic for every subject a child might be studying.  And then the logic really comes into play.  Consider a simple essay for a Technology homework:  It could firstly be a simple description of how an artefact is constructed as part of the initial homework.  That same essay could also be used as evidence of learning strategies, research skills, referencing etc.  It could also be used as evidence of collaboration or enquiry of experts or 'other adults'. It could similarly be used as an exercise in reflection or evaluation. 

And yet again, some of these various artefacts, from different subject areas could also be used within different personas.  And so it goes on.  I am sure that readers could add a dozen different examples of the 're-purposing' of artefacts.

Admittedly, Baris' paper was written from a very academic perspective and several assumptions are made which do not necessarily apply to mainstream education.  However, I must give praise where praise is due.  Thanks again, Dr. Nilgün Tosun and Fatih!

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Lifewide? What do you mean?

from Dreamstime: Different People Recently I was asked this very question, 'What do you mean by Lifewide?' I have noticed before that others have used the term 'Lifewide' without really defining what it means.

There are at least three different aspects whereby I would describe an ePortfolio as being Lifewide:

  1. All learners have multiple personas and should be able to display differing aspects to different audiences concurrently. For instance, I may be applying for two different jobs, one requiring a very professional format as an educator and yet another side of me, that of a bearded environmentalist wanting to escape academia and work for a charitable organisation. The two are not very compatible!

  2. Secondly, the software itself should be capable of moving with the steadily maturing young learner, ‘through multiple metamorphoses’. This requires a simple easy-to-use tool which even the youngest student can use and yet has the capability of highly professional or complex multi-media presentation. Some years ago I attempted to illustrate this as on my website:

  3. Even within one persona, there are many different facets to that learner. Eg a college student does not just follow one course of study – his tutors want to know something of other aspects of his life, what clubs he attends, his out of college activities, his family circumstances, his part-time job. All of these go to make up the whole ‘width’ of the person.

I have also put together a random collection of sample ePortfolios for discussion purposes which might help the thoughtful reader: How many of the 'examples' that I list are capable of showing different 'views' to different audiences.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Well, what do you expect?

A whole pile of portfoliosThe layout of an ePortfolio is critical. But for whom? A potential employer does not have time to browse through one's self-congratulatory essays when looking for just one characteristic. One might be looking for clear skills in organisation or an eye for detail. Another might be looking for literary excellence or previous leadership experience.

Faculty might well expect a similar style and layout from all students - it's so much easier to find the latest essay that requires feedback or to check out a learner's progress. But, unfortunately, such regimentation does not sit easily with the concept of the ePortfolio being 'Learner-owned'.

I think, therefore, that it is essential that one's ePortfolio is easily 'navigable' - that separate sections and subsections have some logic. Perhaps colour-coding will help the reader.

As my previous two posts have alluded, I am in the process of compiling a collection of ePortfolios in order to help learners (or teachers) decide on their own particular format - and whether, for that matter, the software that they have chosen can deliver the layout and navigation they need.

Looking at the examples that I have posted here I suggest that we should consider a number of questions:

Does this eP reflect the character of the owner?
Does the software allow for accessibilty controls?
Are all graphics properly credited?
Is the use of language appropriate for the audience?
Is the balance of rich media appropriate?
Is the balance of content right for a prospective employer?
Is the eP well organised and easy to navigate?
Is reflection used to display the strengths of the learner?
How is informal or extra-curricular prior/experiential learning documented?
Does the ‘Life Story’ reinforce the claims of the learner?
Does the eP display a vision for ‘my future’?
Are peer-review/feedback/mentoring tools used effectively?
Is the eP truly 'portable'?
What’s missing?
If you have examples of ePortfolios that I can attach to my list, please let me know!

Monday, 22 August 2011

The Perfect Example?

four mannequins fitting jig-saw pieces togetherFollowing my last post, Barbara Nicholls asked the challenging question concerning the 'Perfect ePortfolio'. Let me start by repeating my belief that an ePortfolio should be 'Lifelong, Lifewide and for Learning and Leisure'. Secondly, my observation upon studying many hundreds of ePortfolios is that they generally appear to ignore many principles of constructivism - of team working, responding to a mentor's advice, of asking for feedback. Is it that institutions are trying to bolt on new technologies onto traditional pedagogies?

Firstly, it is probably the institution that introduces the eP concept and that generally based upon one discipline or subject. BUT, as soon as the eP is controlled by a single discipline it will tend to be little more than an assessment tool and preclude all the other exciting things that a young student is capable of doing.

On the other hand, the 'learner owned' eP could contain little more than the confused renderings of a Facebook account or the directionless accounts of a 'Dear Diary' blog.

By the time that the eP becomes the showcasing pride and joy of the young graduate looking for employment, some of the earlier peer to peer classroom stuff might well be considered a bit immature and the learner may not include evidences of such nascent learning, valuable as it might well be.

And then, again, as is the case with some of my examples by older professionals, they tend to display a very polished if somewhat conservative presentation which can provoke nothing but awe and admiration.

Recognising, therefore, that the eP is invariably engineered for a single audience, we might never see the "perfect eP". However, we, as teachers, ARE interested in the learner's Life Story, of the 'multiple metamorphoses' of the eP from cradle to grave - and this is a 'big ask'.

Maturely constructed ePortfolios that include all of the above are probably impossible to find. Even if teachers in Primary schools had the right software and vision many years ago, and even if numerous institutions later the learner’s ePortfolio had survived multiple transitions with various interoperability standards it would be rare for a mature learner to display all the hidden pages of an ‘evolutionary’ ePortfolio. Unfortunately, this may be the reason why we rarely see 'long-term reflection'.

The only way to encourage learners to demonstrate this sort of ePortfolio longevity would be through the establishment of some sort of competition – but even then people might be too shy to step forward.

I think, therefore, that at any stage of a learner’s career their ePortfolio should demonstrate as many ePortfolio ‘skills’ as possible. What is evident in my selected examples is that no one example includes ALL the potential skills for that context. As alluded to in my opening paragraph, it may be that we will not see the 'perfect ePortfolio' until we acquire a completely new cohort of teachers capable of creating a 'whole-school' constructivist culture.

The potential total of ‘skills’ for any stage throughout lifelong and Lifewide learning would make an interesting matrix – but that might be another post!

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Examples of ePortfolios

The! logoOver the years I have been collecting examples of ePortfolios - the Good, the Bad, the Ugly. Not that I would dare to embarrass anyone by 'rubbishing' their efforts. However, since discovering! I have found a medium that can attractively display a collection of examples which might help both students and staff decide on the content and layout that suits them. See

Many examples contain profound glimpses of insight and are a joy to read (or listen to). However, even the best seem to have serious gaps in the total content.

Many examples are little more than a showcase of one's best works along with a CV and a list of contacts. Of these, quite a few, in blog format, document the learners interests, sometimes in far too much detail including descriptions of members of their family and even the cat!

Other examples are little more than the syllabus of the course being followed and links to modules completed.

Some are obviously clearly directed by the institution, others are less directed and are purely the results of an open-ended competition.

Many are just a linear blog listing the meanderings and short-term reflections related to a single course of study.

Few show any sense of long-term reflection, 'lifelong learning', or one's 'life-story'.

Despite our claims that ePortfolios are now a part of our Web.2 culture, I could not find any examples of mentoring (by non-academics), collaboration or peer-review.

I also have a second! collection of discussions and support materials relating to both ePortfolios and foramtive assessment:

Monday, 15 August 2011

Attraction, Retention and Inclusivity - Part 2

Image: Ball and Chain from FlickR-IndiamosAt a time when institutions are being pressurised to make serious cost-cutting economies, administrators might well be looking at the principle of retention. However, 'Retention' is a much bigger subject than just that of the efficient retaining numbers of students in courses.

As alluded to in my previous post, what is the point of 'Attraction' if once the students have 'signed-on' they then find that the course is not what they expected or that they cannot get on with their peers? Students should not feel a sense of entrapment, that they have entered upon a course of study from which they cannot escape. There is no worse feeling than, "This is not what I expected."

I therefore see the ePortfolio as being a powerful tool for supporting retention. - I am currently writing on this topic for a chapter in a book to be published later this year - where I attempt to think through these matters in some depth.

Attrition, or the falling away of students, invariably happens within the first term of joining a course of study, but, as explained in my previous post, this can be significantly overcome by establishing good relationships with mentors, established students and alumni, even before 'going up'.

There are not many recently published works that deal seriously with the subject of retention and significantly only one that I can find, (Bret Eynon 2009) that deals comprehensively with the benefits of the ePortfolio for supporting retention. (see:

However, Eynon does not claim for the ePortfolio that it is some sort of 'magic bullet' but, in accepting a sea-change of institutional thinking, the ePortfolio has had a significant part to play:

' What happens if we shift the focus of our teaching and learning innovations from a single classroom to an entire institution? What new kinds of questions and possibilities emerge? Can an entire college break boundaries, moving from a focus on “what teachers teach” to a focus on “what students learn?” Can we think differently about student learning if we create structures that enable thousands of students to use new media tools to examine their learning across courses, disciplines, and semesters? What is possible if, as John Tagg has suggested, we stretch our frameworks, moving from course-centered to student-centered frameworks for encouraging and examining student learning? '

Accepting, therefore, that the ePortfolio can only come, hand-in-hand, with a 'student-centred framework', I would ask readers to suggest ways in which they have discovered their ePortfolio system to be encouraging retention.

If you have any data that illustrates the 'before-after' effect of an ePortfolio culture on retention I would be most appreciative - your institution could even get quoted in the forthcoming book!

Monday, 1 August 2011

Attraction, Retention and Inclusivity - Part 1

Picture: Off on a mystery bus-tripThroughout the whole of this last month I have been researching for an article on 'ePortfolios - Attraction, Retention and Inclusivity' - and it has really taken up most of my time. The topic of Retention is not easily found within the annals of UK educational research. Admittedly, the topic of retention has been of more immediate concern in the USA where Colleges, in particular, have had to face up to serious 'drop-out' rates - in some cases 45%. But this whole area of study becomes much more difficult to 'nail' when looking at the specific relationships of ePortfolios to Attraction, Retention and Inclusivity.

And thus, particularly relevant at this time when many students are facing their first big adventure of joining a new institution (well here in the UK at least), or other students will shortly be starting their last year of study before moving 'up', I want to explore the impact that ePortfolios might have on 'Attraction'.

And thus to explain the image: Getting onto an old-fashioned bus, alone, in, as it were, a foreign country, not knowing quite where you are going and whether this bus will get you there is all part of the challenge that every young student must face. But how much more reassuring, how much more attractive it would be if there was someone there who can converse with you and reassure you that you are heading in the right direction. Identification of landmarks or signposts reassure the traveller - and this is exactly what the ePortfolio can do through 'buddying' systems that allow pairing of the new Freshman with one who has gone before.

But secondly, and perhaps more significantly, an institution that already uses an ePortfolio will certainly be more attractive to the young student just leaving mainstream education, where an ePortfolio system has been in use, possibly for several years. Institutions that have already adopted an 'ePortfolio-centric culture' will be open to small-group working, collaborative learning, of peer-review and feedback; where, inevitably, students and faculty understand something of each other.

Thirdly, and perhaps fundamentally, an 'ePortfolio-centric' institution will have recognised the place of a Web2.0 culture, where the student can use the applications with which they are already familiar, with mobile devices and interactive systems, with on-line assessment tools. This is the culture with which our 6th-form students are becomming increasingly familiar. They will easily recognise from brochures, websites and visiting promoters those institutions that have '21st Century Learning' already embedded and those who have not. The question is obvious: Which sort of institution would our young students find most attractive?

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Time flies but are we standing still?

Clock faces flying through the airFor several business reasons I've not had the time to stop and think about writing constructively about ePortfolios in this blog for a few weeks. However, in regularly scanning the posts of others, reading expensive publications and reviewing repeated 'pilot studies' I wonder if we are getting anywhere very fast. Schools in the UK are still 'thinking about' ePortfolios. Otherwise intelligent graduates are still extolling the virtues of web sites or blogging tools such as Wordpress, Weebly, iWeb or Blackboard as if they are true ePortfolios - and this is where I must part company with them.

An ePortfolio is just not a glorified CV or Showcasing tool - although these are very valuable aspects of an ePortfolio. Perhaps, in one phrase, I would sum up a true ePortfolio as 'a place of conversation'. In its initial phase an ePortfolio might be little more than a collation of unfinished works, in any media format, that peers or mentors might have access rights to in order to discuss and collaborate upon. Feedback comments, star ratings or Likert scales etc are all part of the tool-set of the ePortfolio and should all be contained in the one place.

Secondly, reflection is an integral part of ePortolio growth. In the many examples that I have reviewed I see little request for feedback and certainly very little reflection about the contributions of others. There is a sense of arrogance about many so-called ePortfolios which promote the owner as the perfect potential employee who knows it all and never needs to listen to the ideas or advice of others.

Related to reflection is the whole concept of the 'Life Story' or at least the documentation of some part of the learner's progression, of their interests and evolving maturity. As much as the learner could explain 'Where I have come from' they should also be capable of describing 'Where I want to get to' and 'How I will attempt to get there'. The learner's teachers, mentors and peers can all provide a rich source of support if the ePortfolio tool allows.

And this, of course, is where eFolio can make a real contribution. Firstly it is easy to use - it must be if even our youngest pupils are expected to use it. It needs no great technical competency and 'writing frames' can be created for those who need them. Secondly, and this is most important, teachers should encourage active dialogue through the ePortfolio, anywhere, anytime. Thirdly, an understanding of the role of feedback is important, of constructive dialogue and reiteration. Teachers should no longer be seen as the despots of two centuries ago or 'The sage on the stage' but, through their ePortfolios learners should discover their teachers to be 'The guide by the side', or even their 'Friend to the end'.

And that, again, is where eFolio makes an outstanding contribution. Here in the UK eFolio is provided as an externally hosted facility and not embedded within an institution's VLE. I have written several times about the concept of transition or portability. If an ePortfolio is really for Lifelong Learning it should be 'lifelong' with the learner and not left behind, mouldering in an institution's archives, when needed in years to come.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Independent learning?

Child on a bed browsing her laptopA recent post by Gerry White of DERN got me thinking - 'How independent can learning ever be?' Obviously even the books we read, the style of writing, the bibliographies that we check out all influence our learning, nevermind our own preferred learning styles. However, what clearly impressed me about both Gerry's article and the initial document by Chau and Cheng is that of the controlling factors that influence how a learner sets about a particular task.

Questions arise as to how much influence the culture of a country, the ethos of the institution, the background of the teachers, their presentation styles, the curriculum, the school's resources, home resources and relations with other students all combine to form the learner's individual learning environment. In response to the Chau and Cheng article, therefore, I wrote:

The Chau and Cheng article makes good reading but perhaps inadvertently highlights a number of issues which, for me, make me feel that the whole ePortfolio exercise in the Hong Kong university was missing the point. Firstly, the aspect of peer-review and collaboration. To quote:

"In general, peer feedback was hardly found because it was not mandatory in the competition. Students tended to assign less significance to peer comments, but consistently agreed on the usefulness of teacher feedback for language learning in both cognitive and affective terms."

To me this is one of the most important features of an ePortfolio, that of feedback which can clarify, confirm or even change one's thinking. - Apart from anything else, peer review or that of mentors or 'other experts' reduces something of the workload of teachers.

Secondly, the feedback from teachers appears to be mainly summative, whereas I would argue that the ePortfolio is an excellent medium for allowing the teacher to apply 'a guiding hand on the tiller' before things get completely out of hand. It is generally recognised that so-called summative feedback is too late and of little consequence 'after the event'.

Thirdly, the Chinese University's concept of the ePortfolio appears to ignore its central concept of being learner-owned. It appears to be being used as a learning management system. I quote:

"Where the students’ desire to meet evaluation criteria prevails, the potential of e-portfolios for individualised developmental performance is eroded. Where teachers struggle to forge their identity in the shift towards a learner-centred paradigm without appropriate and adequate scaffolding, e-portfolios may be seen as another externally mandated exercise in which teachers are coerced to participate. Where institutional policy takes developing graduates’ competitiveness as its focus, e-portfolios bear the risk of perpetuating a culture of ‘dressing up’ achievements at the expense of candid interrogation of weakness for progress."

Fourthly, I am concerned that the sample ePortfolio as in Appendix 3 is a very scant example and is apparently lacking in any real personal identity. How does the material showcased relate to the rest of the student's life etc?

I think that the time is well overdue to look beyond 'pilots' and to try and define what a real ePortfolio should be capable of doing, how the ePortfolio can widen the owner's learning experience and how, secondly, it can also make work better for the practitioner.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Shoebox thinking

Picture of young graduate girl holding a stack of boxes.For the last two weeks I have been wrestling with the sad case of the 'Shoebox Mentality' as illustrated in Donald Clark's blog ( ) Yes, there is a case for the 3yr-old to place items in a shoebox, or more often a tidy-box. And then for parents to enjoy the look of surprise and wonderment of the child who had forgotten about a worn-out teddy bear, a drawing or a photograph of the child a year before. And yes, from this has developed the concept of the 'memories box'.

However, Donald failed to understand that the 'shoebox mentality' is only one very small step of a thousand in terms of ePortfolio thinking. The girl in the photograph has a collection of shoeboxes, possibly organised to contain different artefacts, for different purposes and for different audiences. Note that she has ownership of the boxes and that one would hope that the massive libraries, either hard-copy or virtual, that she has access to is stored within possibly several institution.

I feel that I must publish my reaction to Donald Clark's outbursts as I feel that much of his performance was directed at my presentation immediately prior to his:

I noted Donald’s diatribe with some amusement. I do really wonder what planet he comes from. His blog-post reminds me of the exclamation of the proud mother, watching her son out on parade, “Look! Everyone is out of step except my son!” As an articulate speaker, Donald certainly amused his audience at the recent ‘Assessment Tomorrow’ conference at which I spoke. However, this was a meeting of assessors and educationists, which he was certainly not. As a self-confessed employer from a previous generation he certainly had little understanding of the education market, of the extent to which an ePortfolio culture is spreading within all areas of Teaching & Learning, and, for that matter, how teaching and learning methods have changed since he was at school.

Amongst a group of circa 200 delegates most were ‘pro’ ePortfolios in some form or other. To this group the title of my presentation was “ePortfolios – why so slow on the uptake?” ( ) In this presentation I explored some of the reasons why ePortfolios are not making as rapid progress as we might expect. I am therefore flattered that Donald should take several of my concerns eg of the 40+ VLEs providers in the UK, institutionalised systems, interoperability, the lack of ePortfolio related CPD, the contrast between traditional didactics and a modern generation of Web2.0 learners, the steady revolution in Teaching and Learning styles etc. However, despite the massive world-wide interest in ePortfolios and the take-up by hundreds of universities, CoPs and many thousands if not millions of mainstream learners, he took the problems that I referred to and turned them on their head, not as issues to be understood and constructively overcome, but rather reasons for the obdurate rejection of ePortfolios. (Babies and bathwater come to mind.)

I did mention that recent accessions to my blog had reached over 11,600, and that there have been over 100,000 thousand accessions to my posted works on SlideShare and Issuu. Even to the extent that last Monday I had my first reader from Mongolia, on Tuesday a reader from Siberia and even whilst I was speaking, a first-time reader from Sierra Leone – in all, readers from 131 countries.

I did, of course, mention the impressive interest shown by people in New Zealand and Australia, along with the whole-State provision of eFolio in Minnesota and the scores of initiatives throughout America and Asia. Also that all mainstream learners throughout the whole country of South Korea were provided with an ePortfolio and that through the national provision of the GLOW VLE to all schools in Scotland pupils had access to a form of ePortfolio.

Donald rejects the ‘Shoebox Syndrome’ out of hand. But I wonder if he has photographs at home, or framed certificates in his office, or artefacts in his attic that he might reflect upon and gain some satisfaction? Does such a person go through life without celebration of special events or reflection of past glories? Can life really be that sterile? Can such a person go through life without ever attempting to present him/herself in the best light without a short CV or evidence of credentials? To Donald I say. “Wake up! You live in a digital world where the ePortfolio is that natural ‘preferred option’ for so many of us. Because you choose to think differently is no reason to condemn the rest of us to a pre-digital age.”

One comment on Donald's blog is worth quoting:

"If you do not see adult "fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, husbands and wives" as life long learners then that is your point of view. But the fact is that all living species are in a constant state of "change". That change is learning, learning to be a father, to be a mother and so on. So, in essence we are all doing something with our lives that is increasing or decreasing our understanding and knowledge about things and situations around us. So, if we would like to assess that "increase" or "decrease" by designing e-portfolios, then why should it be considered "shoeboxing". "

Thursday, 31 March 2011

ePortfolios Australia Conference 2011

Logo of the ePortfolios Australia Conference 2011 The ePortfolios Australia Conference 2011, being held on 17-18 October in Perth, is calling for presentation proposals based on the theme Making a difference – showing the difference.

The event will provide a showcase of how e-portfolios are making a difference to adult learners from the vocational education and training, higher education and adult and community education sectors. Representatives from all education sectors are being invited to submit abstracts for full papers, case studies and posters. Abstract submissions close 18 April 2011 and should relate to one or more of the following sub-themes:

Assessment: looking at challenges, learning principles, mapping and RPL (recognition of prior learning)

Pathways and participation: looking at entry requirements, foundation courses, pre-vocational education, retention and transition.

Evidencing standards and quality assurance: looking at the Australian Quality Training Framework (AQTF), quality standards and graduate attributes.

Workforce development and graduate employability: looking at work integrated learning, continuing professional development, performance management, LLN (language, literacy and numeracy) and accreditation.

International engagement: looking at language courses, recognition, standards, migration and exchange programs and learning experiences.

The ‘Cloud’ Dilemma

Image: 'Descending Clouds' by Garry Hayes at FlickrQuoting from their post:
Ahead of their province wide conference on Privacy and Cloud-Based Educational Technology happening on April 4th, BCcampus has released a background white paper on Privacy and Cloud-Based Educational Technology in British Columbia (PDF).

This is potentially a very interesting debate on issues arising all around the world - and needs to be followed by anyone interested in ePortfolios.

Yet again for me it raises the issue of 'siloed thinking'. Yes, HE may have a majority of bright autonomous and responsible students who do not need the additional burdens of 'Privacy'. However, HE must remember that they are only a small fraction of the total pupulation of the universe! I would hate to think that HE, as the researchers and publishers of received wisdom, should presume to advise the whole planet how the rest of the world should behave.

There are several groups of learners such as the vast majority of younger children, the less able, the less-than responsible, the elderly etc who need varying levels of privacy which may be adjusted as their IT maturity develops.

So, yes, I say. Good luck with the debate and I hope that amicable solutions may be found for those institutions that can manage a more flexible working environment.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Calling all Teachers

Photo: Two young teachers, keen and eager.If your kids have any involvement with ePortfolios, read on...

Join us at ePIC 2011, the 9th International ePortfolio and Identity Conference 11-13 July 2011, London

The conference is slowly taking shape: as usual, authors wait for the last minute to submit and many know that the deadline will be extended... However, it's you we need!

In other parts of the world, particularly the USA and NZ, many youngsters in Primary and Secondary schools are celebrating their successes through the use of various ePortfolios systems.

However, here in the UK work is going on in developing good ePortfolio practice - but is not being well published. At ePIC 2011 we want to examine further the work with ePortfolios particularly within the Primary and Secondary phases of education. But we need examples of your good practice.

I have been asked to find teachers willing to present, and attend, in order to have at least 2 sessions (6 speakers) dedicated to primary and secondary education. We can support up to 30 teachers with special discounts (and perhaps your LA/school will support you for CPD). Or your VLE/ePortfolio vendor might offer some sponsorship. (NB July might be an easier time for teachers to get 'time off' for such an important meeting.)

For further information see:

What is happening? How are ePortfolios used in Schools? Can ePortfolios overcome 'Facebook mania'? Are Parents & mentors involved? Where is the CPD? Can ePortfolios support transition? What of Interoperability? These are the questions - only you have the answers! Your involvement is imperative!

If you feel able to answer any of the above questions please offer your contribution here.
Or contact me at

Thursday, 10 March 2011

What does it look like?

Image: Girl staring at a screenI am a member of a BSI (British Standards Institute) SIG working on ePortfolio specifications to include issues of interoperability and much more. On face value, as the Sth.Koreans presented it, the ePortfolio problem is all about interoperability and how far we are off coming to consensus. But, the further we get in discussing the details, the further away we depart from each other. There is no doubt that institutions around the world have all defined their own perceptions of what an ePortfolio is, what its purpose is, who should be using an ePortfolio, compulsory or voluntary, institutionally owned or learner owned, what does it feel like, what does it look like. Many of these issues I attempted to address several years ago. See ‘Who is hijacking our ePortfolios.’

However, one of the outcomes of the BSI SIG was to identify ‘Use Cases’ of which each country, and even institutions within any country had different opinions as to how an ePortfolio should be used. Can I ask you, therefore, if you would respond by completing the following headings as a comment or emailing to

Age Range:
Application: (name of software)
Function: (30 – 100 words)

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Begining with the End

Graphic: Signpost asking 'Which Way?'or for the full title: 'Beginning with the End: Planning for ePortfolio Use' . This is the title of an intriguing post that Julius Mayo made several months ago. Intriguing in that he raises some fundamental questions, but without supplying the answers!

Quite simply, he identifies the need to think through the learning outcomes and advantages of incorporating ePortfolios into his teaching (and, for that matter, their learning).

Obviously, there are important matters to consider in relation to specific learning objectives, what tasks he will expect the students to attempt, what learning strategies they will use, what additional software or devices they might want to use, how he will assess their learning, how will one module lead on to another with some sense of continuity etc.

However, Julius also identifies the need to look further afield and consider what good this new approach will have for the benefit of the students, rather than just 'head knowledge'. And that is the purpose of this post. Before looking at the suggestions I made, perhaps you should try and list what you think are the benefits of 'ePortfolio assisted learning'?

You can see Julius' post and my hurried response here .

Monday, 7 March 2011

Where in the World?

Currently this blog has recorded 11518 readers from 129 countries and 2763 cities. (see bottom rh column). However, I would like to hear from the many silent partners, particularly at this time, on the subject of the age-groups of ePortfolio users. I am attempting to collate a list of 'Use Cases' from around the world which will demonstarte that people of all ages, from Pre-school, through mainstream education, VET, FE, HE and adult education are currently using ePortfolios for a variety of purposes. In particular, I am looking for more examples of the use of ePortfolios in order to support adult learners - or even those who use an ePortfolio system for a Community of Practice, in retirement or Care Homes. If readers can supply me with a link to your ePortfolio examples, or relate in approximately 100 words how you or your organisation use ePortfolios, I would be most grateful. If you want to email me, please use:

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Open Leadership

I have just started to study Charlene Li's book - and am mightily impressed. Not that she addresses education as such nor that she even mentions ePortfolios. However, the sub-title to her book says it all:

"How social technology can transform
the way you lead."

Early on (p8) she says,

"The first step is recognising that you are not in control - your customers, employees, partners are. If you are among the many executives who long for the "good ol' days" when rules and roles were clear, indulge yourself in that kind of thinking for just a few more minutes - then it's time to get to work. This is a fad that will not fade, but will only grow stronger, with or without you."

For teachers wondering about all this 'Open Stuff' and Collaboration etc this book makes a very good read. Every page wants me to pause and think, 'Well how could what she says apply to me and my kids in the classroom?'

On the point of how classrooms have changed and how children are now given more control over their learning see my slideshare, Schools and Change.

What Charlene fails to mention is that teachers have been working towards this for the last 30-40 years (and even before ePortfolios!) I remember asking my class to form groups of 5-6 and, surrounding a large sheet of paper, to brain-storm or collaborate on a project or issue - and even to take away 'two good points and two bad points' from their activity to write up in their own notes.

Earlier on (p5) she identifies three trends that have brought this about this release of control; (1) more people on line, (2) Widespread use of social sites, and (3) the rise of sharing.

Perhaps we should recognise that it is the combination of the three trends above and an evolving expectation amongst teachers that Teaching and Learning MUST change that has brought about the phenomenon of Open Leadership not only in the workplace but also in the classroom. In the context of education, therefore, we can see Charlene Li's three trends as:

1) More people on line: Through many separate avenues including gaming, availability of hand-held devices, Building Schools for the Future, initiatives like Becta's Home Access Programme, governments' Broadband initiatives and the sheer advertising and peer-pressure, it is no wonder that the world-availability culture should pervade schools.

2) Social sites:
or possibly more often repositories that have seen the commercial attraction of being social platforms have enhanced a social contagion which, whether for good or bad, cannot be put back inside Pandora's box.

3) The need to share: is part of our gregarious makeup. Educators of all categories have the opportunity to build upon a ready-made culture in order to exploit collaborative processes in teaching and learning as never before.

Yet again, I see the ePortfolio, and eFolio in particular, as the perfect solution to safely delivering all the aspects of teaching and learning or rather 'Open Teaching and Open Learning' that we may ever have dreamed of.

No longer can education be dominated by 'The Sage on the Stage', but, understanding its Latin root, assessment becomes 'The Guide by the Side', and even, in terms of Lifelong Learning, 'The Friend to the End'.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

The USP of an ePortfolio

Picture:  Chessmen on a board, but one standing out as distinctiveI was recently asked what I found, within my experience, to be the USP (unique selling point) of an ePortfolio. The next day I was asked if I could crystalise my paper on 'Attraction and Retention' (see previous post) into some 6 bullet points. Well, below I attempt to do just that. The above illustration clarifies my message: there are many players in the field, most, in my mind are relatively boring and unattractive. To me, only one stands out as being unique. But perhaps you would be kind enough to comment on my selection of 'six of the best' criteria:

  1. The learner should be able to make their ePortfolio stand out as different, a 'must read'.

  2. The ePortfolio must be learner-owned and therefore laid-out as the learner chooses.

  3. It must be completely and repeatedly portable from one institution to another.

  4. It cannot be laden with inbuilt assessment tools if it is to be accessed by mobile devices.

  5. It is not static - but must be capable of continuous upgrade as the learner matures.

  6. It should be capable of displaying multiple concurrent 'personas' to different audiences.

My original list of 'Ten Prime Directives' can be seen here.

Comments, please?

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Attraction and Retention

Image from Dreamstime: A group of teenagers around a laptopI recently came across the following question:

"How can digital technologies help my institution recruit a wider mix of students?"

A challenging question to which I wanted to pour out my heart. Not so much for the obvious references to publicity and the support that can be provided by alumni. Not so much setting up a new culture of collaborative learning and 'dialogics' but rather, more specifically, how the ePortfolio can enhance both the attraction of learners from a wider field and secondly, how to retain their loyalty through to graduation. At a time when governments are tightening the purse-strings and yet demanding an increase of entrants this is particularly relevant.

Once I had started on my response I soon realised that there were so many influences, even within the narrow realm of the ePortfolio, that impinged on both the attraction of a wider and more diverse academic community and also the ability to retain our 'customers'.

For those who want to read on, the 3-page document is here.

Each of the points listed needs some thinking through as to whether they apply to your particular institution.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

The Evolution of the VLE

Collage of some 40 logos of vendorsI was recently asked if I had written anything on the history of the VLE (aka MLE) in UK schools. As it happened, I had a half-completed paper, based on a presentation that I made last year. Although I did not (purposely) mention ePortfolios within the VLE document, I thought that some readers might be entertained by my personal account of the evolution, or even revolution, that the introduction of the VLE has gone through over the last 30 years.

The .pdf document at 4Mb can be accessed here.

My paper does not pretend to be an accurate history of VLEs for the simple reason that the activities mentioned inevitably were performed in different institutions at different times. And again, it only refers to the work within mainly Secondary education and does not refer to the immense amount of work done by universities around the world as a precursor to the work in schools. (See Wikipedia) I can only go by my own experiences and the results of my research for my Bill Tagg paper of 2007.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Learning Analytics

Front Cover of 'Horizon Report 2011The latest Horizon Report 2011 makes interesting reading. In some 33 pages the document attempts to predict techno-logicial outcomes within the next year, and in 1-2 or 3-4 years time. However, what caught my eye was the very last chapter on Learning Analytics (LA). For those not familiar with LA, Wikipedia defines it thus:

Learning analytics is the use of intelligent data, learner-produced data, and analysis models to discover information and social connections for predicting and advising people's learning.

Good as the article is, there are far too many questions which remain unanswered:

In schools we have a far wider range of problems concerning interoperability. Until all data can be made interoperable LA will not happen.

Secondly, there is little or no imagination as to how LA will really contribute to Teaching & Learning. As I am presently writing on this subject I suggest that we should be looking at ‘Third Generation Assessment and Feedback’ or what I expect will be ‘Semantic Assessment’.

Thirdly, the document does not appear to recognise the vast number of leading organisations around the world (something like 500) who are currently using LA in their day-to-day staff training programmes. - It is time education got its head out of the sand and looked at what the big wide world *IS* doing.

So my question here is what do you think of the concept of Learning Analytics? What would you like to see intelligent data doing for your learners? How might ePortfolios benefit from LA?

Monday, 7 February 2011

Product Structure

I have just been following an Elluminate webinar from The ePortfolio California Community. Jennifer Lau, of Marymount College, presents her findings of a significant pilot with a clarity and openness not always found in such presentations. One of the most significant issues that she identified is encapsulated in her slide (#23) as above.

Jennifer illustrates the three main groups of users or 'constituencies' within an institution and argues for the possibility of combining all three groups into one tool. However, this is a time of a potential explosion in ePortfolio usage, when not only will much larger numbers of students be using ePortfolios, but also, that they will be using them in conjunction with a large number of subjects (typically up to 15 in a normal Secondary school). If that were not enough there is also the expectancy of a massive increase in 'Learning Analytics', based on the institution's MIS. Regular readers of this blog may recall one of my mantras:

"Let the VLE do what it best does and
leave the ePortfolio for what it can best do."

For several years now, I have been repeatedly suggesting that the ePortfolio is not the solution to the network manager's prayer whereby learners' user-areas are no longer part of the LMS of VLE. (See my paper, 'Who is hijacking my ePortfolio?' best read in full-screen mode) Far from it, my suggestion is that the VLE must work much harder at providing information to both learners and faculty, JIT and also of a much more refined quality. The MIS, through the VLE should be capable of providing much more formative information, on demand, and in 'real time'.

I therefore see the ePortfolio as a conduit between on the one hand both faculty and students, and on the other hand, the VLE as the repository of all formal work and data for which the institution has responsibility.

Another whole area that Jennifer Lau does not address is that of portability. If the learner's ePortfolio is so closely bound to the institution, as Jennifer suggests, how will the ePortfolio untangle itself when the student moves to another institution? Interoperability is not mentioned and neither is IP. Concerning IP, it is much better that any files that 'belong' to the institution are securely housed in the VLE rather than included within the 'private' catacombs of the ePortfolio.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Tool Thinking?

Picture: Three rusty toolsI have just been invited to learn about a 'new' ePortfolio product with the title, 'Gather and present multiple content types — even multimedia — in one polished PDF file' !!! What a disappointment! The developers must have spent tens of thousands of pounds developing a non-starter.

Quite simply, products such as this cannot possibly deliver 90% of the functionality of what a true ePortfolio should be capable of doing. The developers, I would suggest, have been beguiled into what I call 'Tool Thinking'. By this I mean that it would appear that the developers have said to themselves, "Here we have a tool. - What can we do with it?" Rather than asking, "What educational processes need to be served?"

I cannot possibly think what use a single polished .pdf file can be in terms of Lifelong Learning, or Collaborative Learning, or peer review, or mentoring, or formative feedback. What of on-line Assessments? Where are the feedback tools such as comments or Likart Scales? How can the one document address different audiences for different purposes and with different 'personas'? What would happen if one small spelling mistake or grammatical error was spotted when about to present the ePortfolio? Would it be capable of quick and simple editing?

The ePortfolio must be a 'living, breathing and growing' collection of artefacts, capable of addition or removal and viewed by differing audiences who may have different permissions. It should be a dynamic and easily editable collation of all aspects of the learner's life. It should be capable of evolving, chameleon-like, according to the developing self-image of the owner.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Parents - One Step Ahead?

Picture: Front cover of eBook - 'One Step Ahead'Although this blog is primarily concerned with promoting a clearer understanding of ePortfolios and in particular how eFolio meets all of my criteria, the issue of eSafety should never be forgotten.

I first came across the New Zealand version of this eBook and soon realised that this was exactly what is needed for parents both in the UK and Europe. Following some intense discussions and repeated 'top-ups' to the original, I believe that I have created a valuable resource for UK parents.

Within the 85 pages are ten chapters of useful tips, software links and some good sound practical advice by one who has 'been there' for the last thirty-odd years.

Click here for more information, and the opportunity to buy.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Susie's Journey Revisited

Graphic:  The 'roadmap' of Susie's Lifelong Learning journeyIt is now some years ago (circa 2006) that I first saw the above graphic by JISC (and was recently reminded of it by 'Coach Carol'). BTW - better to load the original which has some useful links. At the time it first looked exciting, but on closer examination it painted the scenario of Susie having to change her ePortfolio as she moved from one institution to another.

This impractical solution was not in line with my thinking, whereby the learner would have to rebuild their ePortfolio upon each transition. See second paragraph of my article Interoperability and Leap2A. Even at that time (some 6 years ago!) I was convinced that the only realistic solution for any user would have to be that of owning the one ePortfolio for life, and that it would therefore have to be externally hosted as is eFolio.

Unfortunately some six years later litttle progress has been made. Most ePortfolio systems are still very much institutionalised or designed for one sort of assessment and some still insist on performing as a content delivery system owned by the institution. As long as institutions continue to misappropriate the ePortfolio concept it is no wonder that learners are resorting to blogs and collaborative tools such as Facebook or Bebo.

Readers of this blog would do well to contact me in order to understand more of the advantages of eFolio

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Graham Attwell on ePortfolios

Graham Attwell makes a masterful presentation (25 mins) describing the whole ePortfolio panorama. He starts by stating the classic opinion that there are just four different types of ePortfolio. However, he does not appear to come to the same conclusion as myself, that all these types, and more, can all be contained within the one system. Later on he does argue that there are many different uses of an ePortfolio which tend to contradict his arguments for four separate systems.

As regular readers of this blog will know, I argue for a single system with all artefacts uploaded once only but that they can then be re-purposed for several different and concurrent audiences. He raises the important question of ownership as an unresolvable conundrum: should the institution, the Local Authority or even Government own and supply the ePortfolio? Or should employers be required to provide the ePortfolio? And, as I have raised before, what happens when a learner is attending two or three concurrent institutions or is working for more than one employer? Graham continues to ask more challenging questions but without presenting the listener with constructive solutions.

My arguments for eFolio are quite simple. The ePortfolio should be learner owned and not embedded within a single institution. By being externally hosted it is freely portable - wherever the learner may go, and whatever various works they are doing. He hints at the possiblity of cloud-based systems but does not give any solution as to where the non-techie can get support. In contrast, eFolio has both excellent context-sensitive help designed for the young or inexperienced learner and also professional help-desk services - and all at extremely low cost.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

How Effective are Online Assessment Systems?

Image - Computer mouse linked to 'HELP' This guest post is contributed by April Davis. She raises several important issues but her description of the existing scenario raises questions for me about whether we should be expecting more from 'assessment'. Should assessment be only summative, or if formative, when? - and by whom? Does assessment really help the learner? April writes:

"There are many ways for students to assess their capabilities, and online assessment systems are just one of these. They’re being increasingly used today, not just by organizations and educational institutions to gauge if students and employees will be a right fit for the job or the degree, but also by those who want to assess themselves and see how good their chances are of getting into a course or gaining employment in the organization of their choice. Most online assessment exams test attitude and personality (or psychometric capabilities), and pre-employment skills. The efficacy of these assessment systems depends on a number of factors:
  • The standardization of the tests – an online assessment system comprises a question bank and a question engine. The question bank must hold standardized question definitions in organized categories and contexts and the question engine must be able to pull these definitions based on user interaction. Also, the organization using the test must be sure that the assessment and analysis returned by the system are in conjunction with their values, beliefs and needs.

  • The robustness of the system – since the tests are held online, the system has to make allowances for unexpected occurrences like lost connections, users pressing back and forward buttons indiscriminately or closing browser windows by mistake, server crashes, broken connections to the database and loss of data that has already been filled, and so on. Where these tests are timed the above problems could influence the accuracy of the results.

"For organizations that use these assessment systems, the relative success or failure of these tests can be gauged only in hindsight – the performance and attitude of the employees that the test recommends, when assessed over a period of time, helps companies decide if online assessment systems are effective in their hiring policies.

"However, it should also be noted that these tests are not a perfect science and that every employee changes in their attitude and personality based on the nature of the job and the environment in which they work. So while the test may throw up a few suitable candidates, it’s unrealistic to hope that they’re all going to be a good fit. The key to assessing the efficacy of these tests with some degree of accuracy is to give them some time, use a large number of employees as a test pool, and allow a few variances in your interpretation of the results."

This guest post is contributed by April Davis, she writes on the topic of Accredited Degree Online . She welcomes your questions and comments at her email id: april.davis83(@)gmail(.)com.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Accelerating Learning

Photograph of Nick HeapI have recently come across a challenging post by Nick Heap on Accelerating Learning. Although his original document is now a few years old it is still a most challenging work which should make us all think about how learning can best be encouraged.

However, before turning to his article, I would ask you to think about what makes a good learning environment - even jot down half-a-dozen bullet points. Then go to Nick's article and read through the two pages...

Having understood his message, I wonder what you would do to change teaching and learning in your situation? Comments back would be appreciated!

Monday, 10 January 2011

January 10, 2011 ePortfolio Interoperatbility using the Leap2A standard

Image credit: 'Travelling suitcase on the station' by nojich on Flickr - By-NC-ND I have a very high respect for the work of JISC and the CETIS group in particular. Their recent posting is well worth studying, particularly for those who have not looked at the advantages and disadvantages of interoperability before.

However, I find a certain poignancy in the picture that they use to focus our attention - that of a lone travelling suitcase. I find it somewhat incongruent that upon arriving at my planned destination, my personal effects carefully packed within the suitcase should be tipped out in a heap - to be reorganised according to another institution's instructions. What I pack in my own suitcase should be mine to organise, display or not display as I choose. And what, having arrived at my new destination, can I do with the contents of my suitcase if the new institution or workplace does not have an ePortfolio system? Or what if I am 'between jobs' and want to get to work on re-designing my ePortfolio?

I am well aware that for intelligent and computer literate adults moving from one institution that has an ePortfolio system to another institution with similar facilities the prospect of interoperability might be acceptable, despite possibly having to rebuild their ePortfolio from the debris of a previous system.

With thousands of schools in the UK alone who do not visualise the importance of Leap2A, I can only ask, 'Do you really believe in Lifelong and Lifewide Learning?' and if so, what are you doing about it. For me, there are only two options, either every institution in the UK adopts the Leap2A standard or that learners are provided with an externally hosted system that can facilitate true portability.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Bridging Assessment with Enfranchisement

Graphic: Processes in ePortfolio activityI find it refreshing to discover a teacher that thinks the same way as I do about ePortfolios. Certainly the brief statements in the blog of Tamara Malloff ring true with my own feelings.

However, I must also focus on an extract from one of her previous posts which looks towards the future:
  • Portfolio or Project-based learning. While some courses will undergo initial disaggregation, the essential trend in education is toward a holistic, self-directed experience.

  • Eportfolios will become the basis for learning design from a younger age, with a teacher-mentor and/or community mentor acting as guides and co-facilitators. Parents will be involved in the educational design of their children in a more authentic way, as they also have access to their child’s learning portfolio online. There will be less emphasis on grades, and more of an emphasis on holistic learning outcomes that students have to meet in terms of evidence and artefacts.

  • Movement toward project-based learning in brick and mortar schools. Educators will work together to synthesis learning outcomes to plan a holistic, problem or project-based learning experience based on learner interests. The project would be co-designed with the learners, but with educators guiding the process. There will be community access and involvement, making the learning experience authentic.

  • IDS (Independent Directed Studies) becoming more predominant initially as learners look to designing their own learning experience and schools look to credit their learning experience. However, IDS may potentialy fall off as an option, making way for holistic portfolio learning experiences based on learning outcomes, not course credits. This may include BAA (localy developed) courses as well. This will require the education system to rethink assessment, grading, and reporting.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

ePortfolios and Market Traction

I recently came across this interesting blog - well, interesting in that the author appears to have opinions on so many different subjects.

However, he (she?) does raise some interesting points concerning ePortfolios that I felt I should respond to:

You say, “how many of the players of traditional portfolios were wondering why e-portfolios hadn’t had better market traction. I commented that it has been broadly accepted but it just isn’t called e-portfolios, it was simply people creating an online identity (not always positive unfortunately) with social media.”

Have you not in your statement summed up several of the reasons why the takeup of ePortfolios has been so slow?

Firstly “players of traditional portfolios” are certainly not the ones likely to extol the benefits of innovative digital systems. The driver for ePortfolios is certainly not traditional didactics but starts with a hunger within teachers and students alike for collaborative approaches to teaching and learning.

I fail to see that ePortfolios have been “broadly accepted”. I do agree that some institutions have established internal ‘Portfolios’ embedded within their VLE, but these hardly come under such criteria as ‘portability’, ‘ownership’, ‘Longevity’ or ‘Lifewide Learning’. Quite simply, these manifestations do not come under an enlightened view of what an ePortfolio can do. But more significantly, “most” teachers or Faculty that I speak to do not have a clue about what an ePortfolio can really do for their students or for their own delivery.

Thirdly, of course, just creating an on-line digital identity is hardly what an ePortfolio is about. As much as some social media might claim to be secure and can be presented to different audiences for different purposes, such sites lack the self-image or self-representation that a true ePortfolio can offer as part of a ‘digital identity’. And again, I cannot see solutions such as FaceBook providing the ability to ‘transmogrify’ from one persona to another in the same way as a good ePortfolio such as eFolio can offer.

I really feel that old assumptions about ePortfolios should be discarded and that we should come up with a clear set of ePortfolio definitions. Several years ago I published the following set of 10 criteria. Since then no-one has disagreed with them: (best read in FullScreen mode)