Electronic Portfolios for Student Learning?

ePortfoliosMany ProfHacker readers maintain a professional web presence, and some academics have even used a web site for presenting their materials for consideration for tenure and/or promotion (see, for example, Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s and Cheryl Ball’s work). Electronic portfolios can be an excellent way to present one’s work.

What about e-portfolios for students, though? At the end of January I was fortunate to attend the E-Portfolio Forum held at the end of the annual meeting of the American Association of Colleges and Universities. The Forum focused on the use of e-portfolios for student learning and assessment.

Because sessions were held concurrently, I really can’t give a full overview of the day. What follows instead are some questions that I came away with as someone with an interest in the potential for the use of e-portfolios, both for individual courses and across campus.

  • How can we best promote student investment in and ownership of the e-portfolio process?
  • Should e-portfolios function primarily as showcases of students’ best finished work, or ought students to include works in progress, or even ideas that may still be germinating?
  • Should e-portfolios be private or public? If public, what are the benefits of that, and how can legitimate privacy concerns be dealt with?
  • Who should choose the platform for the e-portfolio? The student? The institution? Some combination of both? (An interesting note: Salt Lake Community College appears to have taken a “both-and” approach on this question. When creating the e-portfolio they’ll use as part of their general education program, students may choose from three supported platforms: Yola, Weebly, or WordPress. They’re also free to choose a different platform if they wish; they just can’t count on support for it.)
  • Are e-portfolios best used within a particular course? A particular department or program? Across an entire campus?

Let’s hear from you. What questions are important to ask when considering asking students to make use of e-portfolios? If your campus uses e-portfolios, how have they been implemented, and what have the experience and results been like? Let us know in the comments.

[Image by Flickr user pavila1 / Creative Commons licensed]

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