Portfolios in higher education, based in theory or context, are historically part of course practicum across university degree programs. Instructors in countless higher education institutions have used a paper-based format of portfolios as an assessment tool to evaluate student performance. The new territory in the 21st century classrooms demands or expects migration from a paper-based portfolio to an electronic or ePortfolio across an increasing number of university programs. Similar to their paper-based counterpart, ePortfolios provide students and instructors a digital tool to demonstrate or assess skills, generalized outcomes, and student learning as it relates to the curricular outcomes of a particular course or department. In addition, ePortfolios also serve as a networking outlet for both students and instructors allowing engagement or demonstration of life-long skills, professional development, representing skills or achievements within a particular field.
ePortfolios are digital dynamic development spaces representing a consortium of your academic skills, professional experience, and expertise in a particular field on the web. Most commonly, we see classroom ePortfolios include a solid representation of one’s skills and achievements while in school, as well as a blog element. By highlighting key aspects of professional development, such as education, publications, service, awards, or even recommendations, one can not only establish a solid representation of school achievements but ascertain themselves as an active or aspiring professional in a particular field. Creating a unique ePortfolio by juxtaposing school and professional achievements gives a well-rounded professional presence and can be catered by design to reflect the personality of the user.
Companies providing ePortfolios are perpetually sprouting up in the United States and internationally. One can be overwhelmed with ePortfolios if a university does not offer a standard ePortfolio platform for integration in curricular practicum. Internationally, PebblePad is widely used in the United Kingdom and Australia and commonly referred to as a Personal Learning Network. While PebblePad hasn’t gained much ground on American universities, Mahara, an open-source ePortfolio is becoming increasingly popular with its integration with Moodle. FolioSpaces is a free ePorfolio powered by Mahara but is not considered “open-source.” Avenet eFolio offers content management system solutions to the public, profit, nonprofit, and government sectors, notably known for their student “eFolio” systems.
Companies that offer ePortfolios such as Chalk and Wire, TaskStream, Digication, FolioTek, Epsilen, LiveTex, RCampus, Symplicity, iWebFolio, eLumen, and Adobe offer ePortfolio authoring products that can be purchased. While the majority of these companies offer products and services for instructors and institutions of higher education, some also extend those services to individuals and businesses seeking ePorfolio networking and social media solutions. Each company that offers ePortfolio systems has its own unique advantages and should be researched by the prospective consumer to ensure that student learning needs are met and can be easily integrated into your course management system.
Blogs as ePortfolios
With the increase in Blogging among students and “bloggers” alike, some instructors are turning to blogs and customizing its features to build a unique ePortfolio. Most blogs, such as WordPress, Blogger, and TypePad offer free and premium services that offer users a customizable blog that can be used for education, personal, or business purposes. Next week, I will offer an overview of what makes a great ePortfolio blog but in general, students enjoy using this format because of the customization abilities, easy use, quick time updating capabilities, and familiarity of a “blog feeling.” To view a sample of a student ePorfolio using a blog, click here.
Social Meda as ePortfolios
If Facebook is the big gun of personal social networking, then LinkedIn would be the king of business social networking. As business professionals are increasingly utilizing LinkedIn to network on a social media platform, more students are using this outlet to interact and promote themselves versus a traditional “ePortfolio.” As the need for this particular social media increases among business professionals, more schools are personalizing ePortfolios using LinkedIn versus an ePortfolio system, such as “eFolio.” One of the clear advantages of using LinkedIn is it offers free and premium services. In addition, the networking advantages give endless opportunities for students to promote their school and future professional field achievements while they are still a student in school. This month, I will outline the benefits of using LinkedIn as a substitute for “ePortfolios” for students and professionals alike.