A digital portfolio or e-portfolio can take several forms, and have different purposes. Whether it’s a place to share a learning journey, record notable achievements, provide a platform for a learner’s reflections on progress, or to link to records/artefacts/evidence stored elsewhere of skills, examples of work or achievements, or chart future goals and stepping stones to objectives. It may provide opportunity for feedback by peers of learners or educators, and it can provide a means for a learner to collate aspects of their digital footprint as they journey through life.
Wikipedia provides a detailed description of e-portfolios and examples of the different forms and purposes for having an e-portfolio which may include documenting skills and learning, recording and tracking development within a course, planning educational journeys, evaluating and monitoring performance or a course, and helping to find a job.
Why have an E-Portfolio?
The purpose is the key – it’s all too easy to get bogged down in technical set-up issues rather than have a focus on why it’s going to be used by learners. And, while in educational settings the purpose may sometimes be laid down as a requirement, whether by school leadership, or local education authority or by governments, the teacher and the learner need to be clear about the purpose of having the e-portfolio so that it does not become a chore or seen as a burden but instead supports the learning process of the learner. Prasanna Bharti has described at The EdTech review how e-portfolios can help learners
Dr Helen Barrett at the site www.electronicportfolios.org provides a comprehensive source of information about e-portfolios – why they should be created, what should be in an e-portfolio, and what tools might be used to create an e-portfolio. The site describes several models, provides answers to frequently asked questions about e-portfolios, and details how different tools/platforms (whether online tools or mobile device apps) can be used.
Digital Portfolio: The Art of Reflection by Beth Holland - a post which gives a useful background to what the focus of an e-portfolio should be, not on the technical how-tos, nor on a digital portfolio as a summative-only “curate>reflect>publish” model but instead on the process building on developing asking the essential questions to make reflection at the centre of the process.
Vicki Davis has produced “11 Essentials for Excellent E-Portfolios” – this article describes the necessity to be clear about the purpose behind learners having an e-portfolio, and the importance of it being embedded as part of the learning process, including a focus on reflection and ownership by the learner. The article describes a variety of tools which could be used to create an e-portfolio.
ePortfolios are Awesome – a presentation by Lisa Johnson about the why, how and what of student digital portfolios. This presents in graphical form links to a host of articles about why digital portfolios are important, things to consider (including ownership, who gets to see it, feedback, how it’s organised, when and how it will be populated, and what tool to use), and examples of e-portfolios.
How to Make an E-Portfolio?
What tools can you use to create an e-portfolio? There’s a whole range of tools which lets the user record their learning journey, record their achievements and reflections – whether that’s a paper record, a digital form of a paper record (whether simply Microsoft Word stored locally) or a digital tool which is stored in the cloud (and which can be kept private to the individual, or shared with limited others such as parents/carers or teaching staff, or made public for all to see online).
The choice is determined by the purpose and audience (who will get to see the e-portfolio) – and may be determined in a school context by a school policy or Local Education Authority providing the tool, guidance, and support.
In making your choice (if you have a choice) consideration should be given to moving on from one educational establishment or local education authority to another. Take into account when making your choice of platform the ease with which the content on the tool used can be shared or exported in a form which can provide ease of continuity into another school or Local Education Authority.
Wiki – click on this link for more about wikis – an online repository which can grow and expand and be interlinked in different ways for different purposes. Jacqui Murray has provided a detailed description of how she used wikis with her pupils for their e-portfolios. This describes the purpose behind the e-portfolio for her primary-aged pupils and explains the steps to making use of a Wikispaces wiki (Wikispaces are the wikis available to all Glow users) – which can be either private so it’s only accessible to the learner, or shared with their teachers or made public (it all comes back to the purpose and the audience).
Microsoft OneNote – click on this link for more information about Microsoft OneNote – essentially an electronic ring-binder with different sections or subsections, in which there can be multiple pages. And each page can include text, video, audio, images and links – and all works across platforms, online or mobile devices.
Blog – there are several blogging platforms available which are suitable for use in an educational context. Click on this link for more about blogging tools for schools. Glow users in Scotland have access to WordPress blogs. Also look at the blog examples on Dr Helen Barrett’s Electronic Portfolios site: http://www.electronicportfolios.org/. Microsoft Office 365 has a blog option within SharePoint (available to Glow users – however note that in Glow a SharePoint blog cannot be made public outwith Glow, instead there is the option to use WordPress blog or a Wiki from Glow, both of which can be made public, or kept private, or have parts private and parts public).
Word-processed document – there are a variety of word-processing options including Google Docs and Microsoft Word in Office 365, some of which may include a template which can be adopted to get started creating and maintaining an e-Portfolio.
- The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) has produced a series of guides to making use of different tools in creating an electronic portfolio. http://electronicportfolios.com/ALI/2word.pdf
- Dr Helen Barrett has provided a comprehensive at-a-glance guide to creating a digital e-portfolio using Word http://electronicportfolios.com/ALI/2word.pdf
Mobile device apps – there are a number of apps available for different mobile device platforms. Dr Helen Barrett has produced a site which looks at the use of mobile devices for e-portfolios, including examples of apps for different device platforms. As with any choice of tool for creating an e-portfolio the portability of the data would need to be borne in mind – how easily will it be able to be exported to another mobile device platform, how easily can the information (whether in full or part) be shared when a learner moves establishment or beyond formal schooling? Many e-portfolio tools take this into account and some provide the information to undertake the necessary steps, some have inbuilt sharing or export tools.
There are many other tools which could be used to create an e-portfolio - it would just be recommended that the purpose is central to the choice, and that it takes into account requirements laid down by school leadership, local education authority or government to have best chance of that all that’s collated by the learner can be moved as the learner journeys through their educational path at different stages, and that it best supports the needs of the learner.
What other resources are there to help create and maintain an E-portfolio?
Jerry Blumengarten has collated a host of links to resources about e-portfolios, including links to articles explaining the purpose behind an e-portfolio, as well as many different tools and how they can be used to create e-portfolios.
Shambles Guru has collated a series of resources about using digital portfolios – these links by educator Chris Smith include tools for creating e-portfolios as well as articles about the purpose and effect on learning and teaching when learners make use of e-portfolios.
Huffington Post Education post by Tom Vander Ark “Every Student Should Have a Digital Portfolio – this post sets out reasoning behind the recommendation that learners should have an e-portfolio, and then lists and describes a range of e-portfolio tools which can be considered for creating and maintaining an e-portfolio.
Getting started with e-portfolios – a post on the Jisc site which sets out the rationale for having e-portfolios at university level, with suggestions of tools to use, tips for creating an e-portfolio, voids and examples of e-portfolios.