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COURSE

Module 3: Outline an ePortfolio Strategy (UOC)

Introduction

After developing an understanding on ePortfolios  (module 1) and setting the purposes of your own (module 2), let’s continue with some strategic decisions on how to develop a successful ePortfolio suited to your needs. This module will assist you in defining the initial steps of an ePortfolio strategy, including the basic structure, the kind of evidence you will present, who will have access (and under what circumstances) and the tools and services that better meet your aims.

 

Objectives of the module

At the end of this module you will be able to:

  • Identify the key points for planning a successful ePortfolio solution.

  • Develop a strategy prioritizing actions, tasks and decisions.

  • Identify which ePortfolio tools are appropriate to achieve your objective(s).

 

Warm up questions

In the course of this module you will be invited to explore the following questions:

  • How will you structure your ePortfolio? What kind of evidence will you choose to include?

  • How will you distribute the planned tasks into a timeframe?

  • Which ePortfolio tools and functionalities are best aligned to your planned structure and the kind of artefacts you will present?

 

ePortfolio structure

Although the ePortfolio is a versatile system, you should start outlining a basic initial structure.This  will help you decide on criteria for collecting and organizing evidence. The structure could be highly standardized or formal according to an institution pre-established parameters or informal, in which the themes could be presented in a more creative way. Keep in mind that the structure will vary according to your perspective and aim/s. Your perspective could be one of a finishing student that pretends to set up a showcase ePortfolio to find a job, a teacher that pretends to implement an ePortfolio to promote reflection among his/her students, an employer checking applicant’s competencies or, maybe, a member of an organization who wants to use an ePortfolio solution  to implement systemic changes. Each scenario requires a specific organization of the contents and different types of functionalities. Additionally,  in some cases specific types of interaction with third agents should be allowed (for ex.: peers, teachers, external reviewers, etc.). As an initial example, revise the structure of the Personal Development Planning (PDP) ePortfolio owned by Allison Miller.

Additional online resources:

Note that you can decide to organize the contents of your ePortfolio chronologically (for ex.: the ePortfolio is a personal learning diary structured as blog entries) or you can decide to structure it according to a specific set of categories. In the latter case, you may decide to organize the evidence on the basis of your competences or achievements, thematic blocks, best practices, your list of clients or your staff, etcetera.

 

Here you find some additional online resources on how to plan and organize an ePortfolio.

 

Finally, note that for a successful presentation and understanding of the ePortfolio composition you should identify who are the stakeholders for your ePortfolio project and reflect about the strategies you need to develop to address their needs. These issues should be also organized within a timeline. The following video will help you make explicit decisions about how to match audience and personal goals fruitfully:

 

 

You should reflect about the aforementioned questions before starting to develop your ePortfolio. One interesting way to plan it is to draw a chart showing the basic structure, the main functionalities and the way in which the content will be displayed including navigational cues. For more information about how to use charts to plan and organize your ePortfolio see the article by Dida

 

The evidence:

The design of an ePortfolio is much more than having a logic structure for presenting important facts across lifespan, humans creations related to a subject matter or achievement of competences. The design of an ePortfolio entails several decisions about which pieces of evidence will be included and who will have access to it.

The pieces of evidence (artefacts) may include different media (such as video, text files, audio, etc.) and can represent different types of achievements. For example, a student could show a set of learning activities’ outputs, a practitioner could include the deliverables for his/her clients or a job-seeker could include his/her diplomas and certificates. In addition, the ePortfolio can include third person positive expressions such as a teacher evaluation, a peer comment, a reference letter or a feedback of a satisfied customer. The owner of the ePortfolio need to make a deep reflection about what will be included in the ePortfolio.

Explore the webpage by Helen Barrett to see a good example on how to select the artefacts for an ePortfolio.

 

The intended audience

Your ePortfolio could be directed to different types of audience (for ex.: peers, educative agents, experts, employers, the general public, a client, etc.). Moreover, the subject to whom is addressed it can adopt distinct roles:

 

 
  • Contributor: person who provides comments on certain parts of the ePortfolio.

  • Reviewer: the person who provides feedback and validates ePortfolio parts.

  • Reader: a person who can access to the ePortfolio (for ex.: an employer).

This topic is related to privacy issues. In this sense, note that you may configure your ePortfolio as  confidential (a personal ePortfolio), restricted (some parts are confidential, some are open) or open.

 

Technologies, tools and services

The choice of the structure, the pieces of evidence and the type of audience will guide you in the selection of the most appropriate ePortfolio tool or service. Note that an ePortfolio is not a specific software package, so it can enclose a variety of technologies, tools and services. In particular, we can differentiate between:

 
 
  • ePortfolio Platforms. These are technologies specifically designed to support ePortfolio processes. ePortfolio platforms usually includes specific sets of tools such as collaborative spaces, blogs, journals, etc.

  • Content Management Systems (CMS). These tools are not specifically designed to be used as ePortfolios. However, they have functionalities that can support the required processes to develop an ePortfolio. Some examples of commonly used CMS are Drupal or Joomla, among others.

  • Web 2.0 tools. Tools that are easy available on the Internet (usually are free) and that can support specific ePortfolio processes. In a wider sense, note that Web 2.0 tools encourage user-generated content. Therefore, individuals may create their own ePortfolios through Webpages, blogs, Wikis, Google Apps, etc.


http://www.squaremelons.com/images/electronic-portfolio.png

 

Before choosing an ePortfolio solution you should reflect about the benefits that additional functionalities like supported interaction and feedback within your ePortfolio may bring. This is where the power of Social Media should be considered. Social Media extends the possibilities of Web 2.0 tools by allowing users to interact and share content directly to social media networks (for ex.: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN, etc.). The owner of an ePortoflio should carefully reflect about the possibility to integrate these web-based sharing functionalities. Will you include a social layer? Which interactions will be allowed within the ePortfolio? For what purpose? For more information on how to use Web 2.0 tools and Social Media to construct your ePortfolio see the presentation by Helen Barrett.

For an exhaustive (and updated) list of ePortfolio tools and functionalities see the webpage managed by Helen Barrett. See also the paper by Himpsl and Baumgartner from the DUK University on the evaluation of ePortfolio software. These resources will help you in choosing an adequate ePortfolio solution.

 

This activity will assist you in the planning of your ePortfolio (either individual or organizational) by prioritizing the tasks and actions you will take.

  1. First of all, make a chart showing the structure of your ePortfolio, including the sections and the type of evidence you will include. The chart should also include the main functionalities of the ePortfolio. To do this exercise remember to review the example provided by Dida.

  2. List the actions leading to the development of your ePortfolio. After defining priorities,  make a brief outline of the timeline.

Use this template to guide your work. To make the timeline you can also develop a Gantt diagram with Tom’s planner.

 
Publish your ePortfolio strategy and invite others to comment. For an optimal dissemination pleaseuse the course hashtag #ePcourse and the Europortfolio community hashtag #eptnet.
 
 
After reviewing the strategies developed by the other members, refine and improve your own strategy and publish the definitive version in your personal blog.