by David Dos Santos
Using ePortfolios in your course properly has the potential to bring your course to the next level, into the 21st century where learning and professional development are done online. An ePortfolio is an electronic multimedia collection of evidence as digital artifacts that illustrate one’s learning journey over time. Portfolios may represent a learning journey in a course, academic program, or professional career. ePortfolios are descended from the traditional paper and folder portfolios common in higher education writing courses and teacher education courses. Not surprisingly, these types of courses became the early adopters of the ePortfolio and have long modelled some best practices for using the ePortfolio to the fullest extent. ePortfolios are a valuable asset in any academic course from compositional writing to mathematics.
Traditionally students may keep copies of their best work in a paper portfolio. This severely limits the audience and they may even be forgotten or lost in storage. Paper portfolios also remove the aspect of accountability. The assignment or project is private between only the student and the professor.
ePortfolios take on many different shapes and forms and should be thought of as a dynamic never ending process. Even upon graduation or completion of a course it has not reached its endpoint. It simply reaches a transformative stage from a learning tool to a professional tool. ePortfolios are beneficial in several ways:
- ePortfolios can be public and searchable.
- They are easily distributable, only a link and internet connection are needed.
- Because of their public nature, ePortfolios provide a concrete way to help students consider and write for specific, even multiple, audiences.
- ePortfolios help students develop digital composition skills.
- Research shows that the combination of thinking about design and textual content provides higher-impact learning experiences than simply putting words on paper.
- ePortfolios foster not just writing and subject-based expertise, but broader intellectual and cultural development.
- ePortfolios facilitate active learning that crosses the boundaries of individual courses, fields of study, or even the line between education and extra-curricular development and commitments.
Perhaps the most powerful aspect of ePortfolios is that you can provide your students with the opportunity to make decisions. It is recommended that faculty provide and outline, or even better, an example of their own. Students are then handed over the freedom of the creative design of the work as well as the ability to choose which assignments they share that reflect their best work.
Best of all, if you decide to embark on the journey of implementing ePortfolios in your class, you will receive the full support from the Office of Educational Technology. We offer both faculty training as well as in person student workshops.