Why Use an Eportfolio

Go & Show Vs Sit & Get

If we simply build upon the minimalist definition of an eportfolio as a learner’s digital evidence of meaningful connections, then the answer to why one would want to create an eportfolio is to show those meaningful connections. This notion of showing what one has created, developed, built, written or assembled is an extremely important aspect of an effective learning environment that is often over-looked beyond the show & tell sessions that we fondly remember from primary school. Consider the experience of a foreign student from Bangledesh who shared:

If somebody asked me “What did you do in the laboratory? What did you learn in your education?
What did you do?” When I go back to my country, somebody can ask me “What did you do in the US?” This is the only thing I can show them, “This is what I have done. These are my grades, these are my projects, assignments…” They can see everything. It’s me. This is the best thing that I saw through the ePortfolio…(Provezis, 2012)

When we take a closer look at an eportfolio where the learner can show what they have created, developed, built, written or assembled we see that the benefits include:

Active & deeper learning – The act of creation means that students are engaged in reflection and deeper learning. By reflecting on and showing what they have learned through their eportfolio the learner is fully engaged and as John Dewey affirmed:

students thrive in an environment where they are allowed to experience and interact with the curriculum, and all students should have the opportunity to take part in their own learning. (1938)

The following links provide examples and support for active and deeper learning:

Choice, Ownership, Voice, and Authenticity (COVA)** – We can give students choice, ownership, and voice over their digital domain through a learning environments and pedagogy that provides authentic assignments that gives the student the opportunity to solve real world problems in their own institutions or organizations and show those solutions through their eportfolio.

The following links provide examples and support for choice, ownership, voice and authenticity:

Visible learning – an eportolio helps teachers see learning through the eyes of students and through effective feedback helps learners become their own teachers.

The following links provide examples and support for visible learning:

21st Century Assessment – Grades simply do not reveal skills, knowledge and abilities. Students need to be able to show potential schools or employers what they can do and an eportfolio is one of the tools that many organizations will be looking for to see this evidence of learning and abilities.

The Coalition for Access, Quality, and Success which includes all 8 Ivy league schools plus an additional 72 top level schools is creating an admission process and platform tools that will include include a online virtual locker (an eportfolio), a collaboration platform, and an application portal—seek to recast the process of applying to college as the culmination of students’ development over the course of their high school careers.

The following links provide additional examples and support for 21st Century Assessment:

References:

Dewey, John (1938). Experience & Education. New York, NY

Provezis, S. (2012). Weaving assessment into the institutional fabric (NILOA Examples of Good Assessment Practice). LaGuardia Community College: Urbana, IL: University of Illinois and Indiana University. Retrieved from http://www.learningoutcomeassessment.org/documents/LaGuardiaCC.pdf

**COVA – The abbreviation COVA was first used by Dr. Tilisa Thibodeaux at Lamar University in 2015 in our discussions regarding eportfolio persistence and our collaborative research into why students tend to stop using eportfolios after their program of study. COVA originally referred to choice, ownership, voice and agency but after subsequent discussion agency was replaced by authenticity because of the primary role authentic assignments play in the continued use of eportfolios.

Additional Resources:

41 Benefits of an ePortfolio – Wonderful expanded list of how ePortfolios benefit learners