Dr. Helen Barrett Afternoon Keynote 2011

What can an ePortfolio do for your students?

This presentation will showcase the basic principles of Electronic Portfolios by linking two dynamic processes to promote deep learning: Portfolio Development and Digital Storytelling. If we are to help learners create portfolios that truly support Assessment For Learning (AFL) and follow the ten AFL principles, then we need to look at strategies that help learners find their own voice and tell the story of their own learning... strategies that foster learner self-motivation. A major challenge today with electronic portfolios is to maintain learner intrinisic motivation to willingly engage in the portfolio process. The use of multimedia tools is one strategy that involves and engages learners; another technology that is engaging young people today are weblogs (blogs) and wikis. Participants will see demonstrations of electronic portfolios as digital stories, formative assessment, and support for lifelong learning. [Maricopa Community Colleges Day of Dialogue on Electronic Portfolios, February 25, 2005 (1 MB PDF); ePortfolio Australia Conference, December 2004 (902K PDF); WebCT Conference, July 14, 2006 (743K PDF)]

An ePortfolio (electronic portfolio) is an electronic collection of evidence that shows your learning journey over time. Portfolios can relate to specific academic fields or your lifelong learning. Evidence may include writing samples, photos, videos, research projects, observations by mentors and peers, and/or reflective thinking. The key aspect of an eportfolio is your reflection on the evidence, such as why it was chosen and what you learned from the process of developing your eportfolio. (Adapted from Philippa Butler’s “Review of the Literature on Portfolios and Eportfolios” (2006), page 2.)

An ePortfolio is not a specific software package, but more a combination of process (a series of activities) and product (the end result of the ePortfolio process). Presentation portfolios can be created using a variety of tools, both computer desktop tools and online (Barrett, 2000; Barrett, 2004-2008). Most commercial ePortfolio tools are focused on the product (right-hand) side of the diagram below, although some open source tools contain some of the Web 2.0-type tools that enhance the process (left-hand) side of the diagram, such as blogs, social networking, and RSS feeds.

The real value of an e-portfolio is in the reflection and learning that is documented therein, not just the collection of work. In fact, here are two of my favorite quotes from a book and a resource created by JISC in the UK:

" The overarching purpose of portfolios is to create a sense of personal ownership over one's accomplishments, because ownership engenders feelings of pride, responsibility, and dedication." (p.10) - Paris & Ayres.(1994) .

" The e-portfolio is the central .and common point for the student experience. It is a reflection of the student as a person undergoing continuous personal development, .not just a store of evidence.".. (Geoff Rebbeck, e-Learning Coordinator, Thanet College, quoted in JISC, 2008)

Dr. Helen Barrett

Dr. Helen Barrett is on the faculty of the University of Alaska Anchorage where she is in
charge of the Educational Technology program, teaches computer applications,
telecommunications, multimedia, and electronic portfolio courses, and has directed two
federal PT3 grants.  She has been researching electronic portfolios since 1991 and can
be reached at afhcb@uaa.alaska.edu or through her website: