Module 2: Set the ePortfolio Purpose/s
In the first module you got familiar with different notions of ePortfolios and how they are applied in concrete situations. This second module will let you gain more understanding of the potential of ePortfolios for multiple purposes. You will also contemplate ePortfolio’s different perspectives regarding ownership, management, but above all, intentional use within a personal or institutional setting.
Objectives of the module
Establish a perspective for your ePortfolio (who are you? what’s your role?)
Identify the main purpose/s of your ePortfolio.
Produce an initial scenario for building/exploiting your ePortfolio.
Warm up questions
How could ePortfolios be used to accomplish your needs?
What could be the main purpose/s of your ePortfolio?
Can one single ePortfolio be used for everything or do you need different ePortfolios for different purposes?
An ePortfolio system could be used by different agents, including a learner, a tutor, a practitioner, an employer, a professional body or an institution, among others. Each of them have idiosyncratic viewpoints that lead to specific requirements, challenges and adaptations. Therefore, a satisfactory implementation of an ePortfolio initiative needs to be highly sensitive to these different perspectives.
The JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee) provides a comprehensive set of ePortfolio perspectives that we invite you to consult. You may also find of interest the ePortfolio concept guides for different stakeholders developed by the Australian ePortfolio Project.
Additional resources on ePortfolios’ perspectives that may assist you in establishing your own priorities:
Adapted from Gibson (2006). Paper available at: http://goo.gl/vStFNG
To learn more on the Learner Perspective, watch the following video by Gordon Thomson of the University of Edimburgh:
- On the next webpage you’ll find some presentations about the use of ePortfolios from the perspective of the teachers.
- Explore the following videos on the ePortfolio Employer Perspective by Durham College:
At the following link you can also find a good example of an ePortfolio owned by a practitioner
Finally, watch the following video about the advantages of ePortfolios for managers by the University of Cumbria:
A major strength of an ePortfolio is its flexibility, which makes it possible to achieve a wide variety of individual and/or institutional purposes. These purposes could include improving your teaching and learning experience, supporting an application for a job, obtaining a professional accreditation, recognizing your previous learning, being updated about the competences of the workers in your institution, etc. For an overview of the main ePortfolio purposes see the JISC proposal at: http://goo.gl/wWj2jl.
To assist you in better clarifying and deciding your own intentions of using an ePortfolio you can explore the following case-studies that illustrate actual uses of ePortolios according to different purposes
Additional online resources:
- To know how ePortfolios can support teachers’ Career Development Plan (CPD) see the webinar lead by Julie Hughes of the University of Wolverhampton:
- View the following webinar on the use of ePortfolios to support LifeLong Learning of physicians in Canada presented by Jennifer Gordon of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada:
It is important to note that starting from a single online repository, the user can select and present a specific group of artefacts according to his/her own purposes. For example, a student can use a single ePortfolio to manage his/her learning process within a course or to present it as an online CV to potential employers. When selecting the artefacts you will display, it is important to keep in mind who your audience will be and what information and the type of evidence you will present (see module 3 to know more about a satisfactory ePortfolio strategy).
Finally, note that a great variety of ePortfolio tools and platforms currently exist. Some of them (for ex.: Mahara or PebblePad) support a wide variety of ePortfolio related activities (for ex.: feedback from peers or teachers, track your own activity, collaboration tools, reflection, etc.) while others support more specific activities (for ex.: showcase your evidence of learning). Before choosing an ePortfolio tool you should reflect on which specific ePortfolio activities are needed to reach your own purposes. In module 3 you’ll find more information about ePortfolio tools and platforms.
The question of the ePortfolio ownership is central as it may affect the purposes for which you create it. For example, many schools and universities are the real owners of the ePortfolio which belongs to the institution, not the learner. This is unfortunate as the learner loses all the invested efforts after finishing the studies. Some initiatives like the School of Education of the Charles Sturt University are adopting a broader perspective on ePortfolios helping transitions between the educational and the professional or labor contexts. Read the case study from the Charles Sturt University.
According to it we can differentiate between:
Individual ePortfolio: Refers to the ePortfolio of a specific person and could comprise different periods of time (an specific course, lifelong ePortfolio, etc.). The owner selects and communicates relevant digital artefacts according to his/her own purpose. The individual is the complete owner of the content and the processes of the ePortfolio.
Institutional/organizational ePortfolio: An ePortfolio may belongs to a cultural, social, commercial or political institution. See, as an example of an institutional ePortfolio, the European Language Portfolio
Individual ePortfolio within an institution/organization: The individual owns the content but the ePortfolio processes and functions are entirely determined by the institution.
This activity will guide you in defining a general scenario for the ePortfolio you are starting to design. During next modules, you will have the opportunity to revise this initial use case scenario.
1. First of all, establish the perspective you will adopt. Do you want to implement an ePortfolio from an organizational perspective or an individual one?. Then, reflect about the purpose/s of your ePortfolio. It is for showing your achievements or work? for evaluation? to promote CPD within your institution?, etc. Finally, with the purpose/s of your ePortfolio in mind, determine the processes related to them.
- You may use the following template to guide your work.
2. Define your ePortfolio initial case scenario according to your perspective and purpose/s. To conduct this activity, you can have a look at the case study developed by the Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV). You can also have a look at existing scenarios in the course scenario wiki.
Some guiding questions to make this activity are:
It is now time to share with your peers:
Transfer your scenario in the course scenario wiki.
Share the case scenario and invite comments from other members. For an optimal dissemination of your ideas use the course hashtag #ePcourse and the Europortfolio community hashtag #epnet
After reviewing the case scenarios (if it is possible ask for comments to your peers) refine and improve your own case scenario.
Then, you should make a brief and public presentation of your case scenario (use any tool you want -Prezi, PPT, VideoScribe, Powtoon, Emaze, etc.) (you also should write a brief abstract explaining your ePortfolio initiative (maximum 1 page). Share the outputs.
Finally, try to answer some of the questions that arose in the previous module and you listed in this template.