ePortfolios are not a new concept. In various guises, digital presentations of skills and competences, online records of achievement and action plans with opportunities for reflection have been in use in education for nearly two decades. Tools and systems built for these purposes are now numerous.
Various definitions exist of term ePortfolio. There is an emerging consensus that the term encompasses both product and process:
‘An ePortfolio is a purposeful aggregation of digital items – ideas, evidence, reflections, feedback etc. which ‘presents’ a selected audience with evidence of a person’s learning and/or ability’
Andy Powell of eFoundations referenced Graham Attwell’s work on e-portfolio development and wrote that ePortfolios have the following characteristics, in no particular order:
Graham refers to “personal development planning portfolios” as one of the most important aspects of what an e-portfolio can enable. Being able to assess where one is in a learning journey and, more importantly, being able to plan for what needs to come next is a critical learning skill and an e-portfolio can be one of the tools that supports that process.
Such planning comes in part from being able to reflect on the learning that has already taken place. This reflective activity appears to fall within what Graham refers to as a “personal learning portfolio”.
There is a sense in which an e-portfolio becomes a self-promotion tool, functioning more or less like a curriculum vitae would do, either as part of getting a job, or during transition between different phases of education.
Being able to prove that learning has taken place is an important function of the e-portfolio, either as evidence to support the assessment process or as part of the promote function.
Finally, there is a life-long aspect to e-portfolios. An e-portfolio, and the systems around it, should help us to maintain a life-log record of our learning.
Some readings on eportfolios: