I am frequently asked by educators, “What is the REAL value of e-portfolios?” While this may seemingly be a straightforward question, most often the real question is, “Do e-portfolios have any value?” My answer is yes, when used correctly and maintained.
Students have always used some type of “portfolio” system in higher education, even before the dawn of the World Wide Web. Writers and journalists had a consortium of published articles bound to black cardstock to display the professional piece; photographers commonly carried a large portfolio case of their top photographs with commentary below each mounted picture; architects carried a portfolio that showcases their creative designs and production that resembled a transportable museum, so to speak. While some of these pre-www. portfolio practices are still used today, many students and universities have embraced e-portfolios to facilitate reflection, application, and showcasing a portfolio of work to potential employers.
Even with the establishment of e-portfolios being a venue for students to learn, reflect, and show their work, there is still uncertainty of the value of this method. Common arguments against e-portfolios are:
- Outdated technology
- Students losing password and login information post-graduation
- Upkeep is too much work
- Lack of technology skill level by student and/or instructor to use and maintain an e-portfolio
So, why have an electronic portfolio, or e-portfolio, as part of your course curriculum if there are valid and logical arguments against the technology? If the world around us has changed into an e-communication streaming medium with e-mail, VoIP, ipads, and even TelePresence videoconferencing, why should we not expect students to learn, reflect, network, and share using this mode?
E-portfolios are a valuable developmental tool for instructors to use in the classroom to facilitate ongoing reflection, learning, and application. Most e-portfolios typically showcase skills and achievements in what resemble a blog format. Depending on the e-portfolio host or site a university uses, a student may have more limitations on what they can showcase and the format in doing so.
I found a great resource on why we need to have e-portfolios in the classroom from Penn State. This tutorial gives excellent reasons and resources for educators on using e-portfolios in the classroom. Please click here to watch the short video provided by Penn State.
Next week, I will cover basic e-portfolio platforms that are used by colleges and universities nationwide. You can also get creative with e-portfolios (education or professional based) by creating a dynamic and interactive blog! I will not only show you how to get started with each resource but final products so you can make the final decision on what fits your learning needs.