Academic journal article Education

The Electronic Portfolio Journey: A Year Later

Academic journal article Education

The Electronic Portfolio Journey: A Year Later

Article excerpt


What is an educational portfolio? It is a collection of work that an individual has built to demonstrate their learning process and progress. It is often artifacts selected by the learner to showcase their best work, to show development, and to give an opportunity for reflection upon their learning process. When presented with new knowledge (theory) in the classroom and after implementation (application) of this knowledge, reflection through journaling

becomes an integral part of the portfolio process. Portfolios are utilized in three main areas: assessment and accountability, marketing, and learning (Wolf, 1999; Barrett & Carney, 2005).

Through technological innovations portfolios are transitioning from a three-ring binder to the computer, turning the traditional educational portfolio into an electronic one with the ability to share one's work to a wider audience via the Internet and other technologies such as CDs, DVD's, and flash drives making them highly portable. Companies are developing electronic portfolio software with built in standards and assessment tools. Open-source electronic portfolio systems are now available, and if one has the technological skills and abilities, portfolios can be created via Hyperstudio[R]; PowerPoint, Excel, Word, HTML or web authoring software. There are many tools available for the creation of these electronic collections of one's learning.

There are multiple ways to define electronic portfolios. The Learning Infrastructure Initiative, now known as the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative, (University of British as cited in Lorenzo & Ittelson, 2005) defines electronic portfolios as "personalized, Web-based collections of work, responses to work, and reflections that are used to demonstrate key skills and accomplishments for a variety of contexts and time periods" (p. 3).

Why electronic portfolios in education? Research by Lorenzo & Ittelson (2005) has shown that ePortfolios can "enhance teaching, learning and assessment practices" (p. 3). In the past decade, a paradigm shift has refocused teaching practices in education from a teacher-centered instructional environment to a student-centered one (Brooks, 1997; Terheggen, Prabhu, & Lubinescu, 2000). The result? Universities are expected to be more accountable for providing evidence of the process and growth in student learning during their academic tenure. Ruhland and Brewer (2001) acknowledge these increased demands for accountability that highlight assessment of student learning. In response to these demands, student learning outcomes have become the focus of many universities as a way to measure and document student learning. These outcomes measure how a student's university experience has supported their development as individuals and describes the knowledge, skills, abilities and attitudes students are able to demonstrate upon completion of a program. A learning outcome is not what the instructor does to the student, but rather what the instructor expects the student to do as a result of teaching.

The methods by which these learning outcomes are assessed to determine student success of learning expectations vary and may be dependent upon the course, program, and/or assessment practices and beliefs of the faculty. Emphasis on alternative assessment practices in lieu of the traditional test is being developed as a means to meet accreditation and accountability expectations (Ruhland & Brewer, 2001; Herman, Aschbacher & Winters, 1992). However, it is through the increased demands for accountability practices and the assessment of learning outcomes that a conflicting paradigm is emerging--assessment of learning vs. assessment for learning. Barrett & Carney (2005) raise concern over this conflict and call for a balanced system within ePortfolio technologies that supports a blend of both assessment practices for accountability and life-long learning. …

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