Portfolios have been around in education for many years now. Traditionally, they are being used mainly as a collection of students’ work, artifacts and achievements. A portfolio is essentially a collection of evidence that is gathered together to show a person’s learning journey over time and to demonstrate their abilities.
ePortfolio emerged as a result of continuous development and integration of technology in education. An electronic portfolio (ePortfolio) is fundamentally an electronic version of paper-based portfolio, created in a digital environment, and can include text, images, audio, and video material. Although there is no absolute definition of an ePortfolio, in the case of the ATS2020 project the following definition was understood as true and it derived from the EUfolio Project (2014):
“ePortfolio is student-owned dynamic digital workspaces where in students can capture their learning and their ideas, access their collections of work, reflect on their learning, share it, set goals, seek feedback and showcase their learning and achievements”.
ePortfolios were created to provide a digital environment that can foster the development of students’ 21st century skills, their reflective and self-regulated learning and innovative ways of their assessment (Johnson, Mims-Cox & Doyle-Nichols, 2006; Barrett, 2007).
According to Abrami & Barrett (2005), ePortfolios can have three distinct functions that can be divided into three distinct levels.
• ePortfolio as storage
At the beginning, students can use their ePortfolio space as a digital repository or storage, where they create and collect artifacts that can be used for developing their ePortfolios. For example, they can upload and store in their ePortfolio space several photographs, images, YouTube videos of themselves and/or of items of interest, podcasts, documents etc. that they can use later on when building their ePortfolio. They can also collate exemplars of work to support the development of success criteria for the task or assignment they are working on.
• ePortfolio as workspace/process
As a second step, students start planning their goals, organizing their learning experiences chronologically, collaborating with their peers, reflecting on their own learning process and on peers uploads. At the same time, they can collect and upload artifacts (storage), discuss with peers the selection of their artifacts, work collaboratively or alone and organize their resources. Thus, a cycle of self and peer reflection learning process starts. In this level, teacher and peers provide feedback and formative assessment for learning.
• ePortfolio as Showcase and Assessment / product
A showcase ePortfolio demonstrates students’ competences, achievements and products. When the ePortfolio process is ready to become a product, students critically organize their learning experiences thematically, edit and select their artifacts considering their own reflections and their peers contributions and feedback in order to create their showcase achievement ePortfolio. The ‘final’ products, in the showcase part of an ePortfolio can be evaluated by the teacher as a summative assessment of learning.
ePortfolio as a Tool for Developing and Assessing 21st Century Skills
ePortfolios are ideally suited to the assessment of collections of work produced by students and are thus particularly powerful tools for communication in the mother tongue, communication in foreign languages and cultural awareness and expression. As they are digital tools, based on Web 2.0 technology, they are also very suitable for developing ICT skills and to embed learning products, made with various ICT tools (e.g. slide presentations, podcasts, videos etc.).
ePortfolios provide a rich context to construct and to document learning through the working process and the artefacts produced, while they provide opportunities for self, peer and teacher feedback and assessment. Through the ePortfolio process, further skills are required and developed for collaboration, problem solving, critical thinking, autonomous learning, decision making and effective communication.
There is a large number of resources available for the eportfolio-check out some of these in the following section:
Co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union
The ATS2020 project is funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.