ePortfolio as the core learning application

Much of this thinking springs from Stephen Downes’ review article, eLearning 2.0. Experiments like ELGG and Dave Cormier’s FeedBook have implemented some of these ideas and added to our (Center for Teaching Learning and Technology at WSU) thinking.

Portfolio thinking/working includes these elements

  • Collect your work
  • Select from your work important examples, annotate what is important (add metadata)
  • Reflect on your work, are you meeting your goals, how do you know
  • Connect your work to that of others (may provide context, support, evidence of success)
  • Project your work into the community to solve problems (provides context and authentic evaluation)

Following these ideas springs our conviction that platform and tools for creating ePortfolios should be Worldware, rather than custom tools purpose built for education.

Bloggers have foreshadowed our ideas about electronic portfolios, where they are collecting their original writings and synthesizing/ reflecting about their readings.

In thinking about Pandemic Flu planning , we have looked at the multiple points of failure and proposed a loosely coupled teach-in, based on an ad-hoc set of tools.

Our 2007 ePortfolio Contest challenged contestants to document their learning growth — we wanted to explore how to gain insight into the learning that is often masked in a ‘showcase’ portfolio.

The more sophisticated blogger uses a blog roll to provide context about what influences them. And that blogger understands they are a “central node” (Resnick) of a (self-assembled) learning community — and the blogger/learner seeks critical input from others via comment and trackback. The blogger is engaged in dialog for the purpose of learning within a community of practice.

We understand the well developed blog to be a portfolio, but find its chronological structure can limit its utility to a would-be portfolio reader. Well developed “review” posts, that link to other posts (supporting evidence) in the blog can serve this synthetic, and demonstrative, role.

Using a portfolio platform allows the blog to continue in the mode where it is strongest, Collection and Reflection, while the portfolio provides a place to make a presentation to a specific audience for a specific purpose. Ideally the portfolio has its own file storage and Authentication/ Authorization structures to supplement the other systems from which it is aggregating.

In our thinking a portfolio (see Pandemic Flu), is a hub that can aggregate (but may not need to contain) artifacts (it might be important to bring the artifacts into the portfolio if issues of AuthZ might keep the portfolio reader from seeing the artifact, or if the artifacts are in locations where they are subject to destruction (an example of the latter might be a page in Wikipedia). Typically, the artifacts lie in native environments most suitable to them (Flickr, Blogger, del.icio.us, etc) and are arranged into the portfolio by tagging and a syndication mechanism (such as RSS).

The piece we are adding with our 2007-08 portfolio contest is the idea to engage with a community (local, national, international) on a problem and its solution. This requires the learner to learn in a multi-disciplinary way in an authentic context.

The portfolio, in this application, likely becomes a “collaba-folio” where the author is collaborating with a community in the work and documenting learning growth. It is not a showcase portfolio of a finished work. In fact, following BioQUEST, we think that authentic learning work is seldom “finished,” rather it is abandoned in favor of new, more important learning pursuits.

The teacher in this model is taking actions symmetric to the learner. The teacher is a more sophisticated learner, providing feedback to novices within a web of teaching-learning relationships. The teacher also understands that, through past reputation, he may have social capital to extend to a learner, and that extension can be done publicly via the teacher’s blog roll or by a blog post that synthesizes some aspect of the work of the learner with other members of the community (who may then provide the learner with feedback or resources). The teacher should be conscious in using social capital, and perhaps earned credentials, to advance the thinking of more novice learners into the communities of practice.

7 Responses to “ePortfolio as the core learning application”

  1. An introduction to my blog - Two years in review | Dave’s Educational Blog Says:

    […] An introduction to my blog – Two years in review | Dave’s Educational Blog on FeedbookOne small step for man » Blog Archive » ePortfolio as the core learning application on FeedbookLee on habitat – a place for communities to buildblog of proximal development » […]

  2. One small step for man » Blog Archive » Worldware ePortfolios as tools for educational entrepreneurs Says:

    […] One small step for man Exploring learning & technologies from outside the university’s walls « ePortfolio as the core learning application […]

  3. One small step for man » Blog Archive » Thinking beyond the LMS Says:

    […] just posted an interesting summary by of PLEs looking at his practice. I think I need to wrestle my thinking about ePortfolio against David’s about […]

  4. Amanda Everse Says:


    We were just checking out the “buzz” on our site, and found your link. We love to see people engaging in this conversation. Could you fix the link to BioQUEST so that it doesn’t have a comma at the end? That way, it will work for folks.


  5. Case Studies of Electronic Portfolios for Learning « Center for Teaching, Learning, & Technology Says:

    […] Management Systems (LMS) in this Microsoft white paper for EDUCAUSE 2007, in JOLT, Innovate, this blog, and in this interview). This document begins a case study of learners who use electronic […]

  6. Hub and Spoke Model of Course Design « Center for Teaching, Learning, & Technology Says:

    […] Into the Boardroom (PDF),Out of the Classroom and Beyond, Case Study of Electronic Portfolios, and ePortfolio as the Core Learning Application.Recently Blackboard has been adding “Web 2.0″ features, so we had a discussion to […]

  7. pagi: eLearning Says:

    […] ePortfolio as the core learning application […]

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