A Web-Based Learning Portfolio System

Article excerpt

Portfolios have been used in teacher education programs to demonstrate teacher candidates' growth and help them to meet certification and graduation requirements. The current trend is for teacher education institutions to adopt electronic portfolios (e-portfolios) in a digital format, instead of the traditional paper version, to meet this requirement (Finkenberg, 2005; Horton, 2004). Because e-portfolios are a popular trend and are rapidly replacing paper portfolios, teacher educators need to update their knowledge of this form of technology.

This article introduces the "Web-based Learning Portfolio" (WBLP) system, which is a new kind of e-portfolio that is being used by many teacher education programs. This article will highlight the unique features and benefits of using WBLP, will discuss the disadvantages, and will share strategies and tips for successfully implementing WBLP in a teacher education program.

Unique Features

One of the most recent versions of a portfolio system, WBLP, uses a combination of information and communication technology (ICT) and portfolio processes (Ahn, 2004). A WBLP can include commercial-based systems such as Chalk & Wire, LiveText, Professional Portfolio, Task Stream, or university-initiated systems such as Johns Hopkins' Portfolio System. The operating systems of all WBLP versions are similar. The main purpose of using a WBLP is not very different from that of the traditional portfolios, but a WBLP has several advantages because of its unique features.

Identification (ID) Verification. A WBLP sits in an electronic database system that requires a user ID verification system to access the database. Once students or teachers are logged into the system, they are able to access specific areas within the WBLP, such as "portfolio creation," "portfolio guide," "portfolio browse," and "system management." In other words, the WBLP system provides a personalized online account whereby students and teachers can access the portfolio system and control and update the documents in the database system.

Students log into their account and create documents or develop their projects. Once students create and organize documents for different types of assignments--such as lesson plans, unit plans, observation reports, reflection journals, and even multi-media projects--they are able to revise and compile them in their own account. After teachers log into their account, they can review and evaluate students' work and conveniently provide feedback on student assignments. It is also possible for teachers to create new documents, such as assignment templates, guidelines, and evaluation rubrics that can guide students' teaching and learning progress.

Communication Between Students and Instructors. Unlike the commonly used programs of email, web sites, Blackboard, and WebCT, WBLP provides another unique feature for users. Through ID verification, the WBLP system allows communication only among academic groups composed of students and instructors. Student assignments are no longer mixed in with email correspondence. It appears to be less trouble to track and manage student assignments and grade them through WBLP than with email, since all data are stored in the central database system. In addition, it is virtually virus-free.

Although using a web site could be a useful tool to assist with student course work and possibly to develop portfolios, Blackboard and WebCT are quickly replacing the web site method because of the danger of worldwide exposure. Sometimes student work is not ready for public viewing. It is often the goal of students to have their best work on the web site, rather than all student work samples. Providing feedback for assignments or grading is not possible through the web site method because web sites are typically not set up for this function. Blackboard and WebCT are used in numerous institutions, but their use is designed for individual courses rather than across various teacher education courses. …