January 22, 2018

How best to use e-portfolios

Batson, T. (2010) Is portfolio evidence useful? Campus Technology May 19

I found this a thoughtful if somewhat predictable reflection (how appropriate) on e-portfolios. Batson asks (and tries to answer) the question:

‘For the vast majority of …. students…, what is the value of their collection of evidence once they are beyond the course or departmental level?’

There are some other questions that could be asked about e-portfolios:

How will external people know that it is the student’s own work, especially after they have left the institution? I am sure there is a technical answer to this question, but I would like to know the details. And does it matter? (I suspect it does).

Will the institution need to keep a copy of the authenticated e-portfolio in perpetuity? (The library in the University of British Columbia is already collecting and archiving, with student’s permission, copies of their digital work – see http://www.tonybates.ca/2010/01/31/a-personal-view-of-e-learning-at-the-university-of-british-columbia/). Will or should this be available to the public without the student’s permission? What if an employer for instance wants to see the archived version as a check? Who should be responsible for managing the storage of university/college-assessed e-portfolios: the Registrar’s Office, the Library, or the student?

If it is to be a lifelong learning tool, then the student will need to be able to go in and change it after graduationwill this impact on the authenticity of the e-portfolio after it has been ‘accredited’ by an institution as the student’s own work? Does this mean there will be multiple versions of an e-portfolio?

How will employers overall react to e-portfolios? Has anyone done any research on this? Will they need to be ‘educated’ about them, and if so, what’s the best way to do this?

I am sure that there are other questions to be asked, as well. I agree with Batson that e-portfolios can dramatically change how we assess students, and for the better; I also agree that e-portfolios have intrinsic value as a learning tool for the student. But we do need to provide answers to these questions as well, if e-portfolios are to be accepted as an alternative form of assessment, which is what I would like to see. Or will that wreck their value?

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