January 20, 2018

Leadership in open and distance education universities

Tram in Lisbon

Tram in Lisbon

 The conference

For 20 years, the Standing Committee of Presidents (SCOP) of the members of the International Council of Distance Education (ICDE) has provided a unique forum for rectors, presidents and senior policy makers in open and distance education to exchange views and experiences and to discuss the latest developments and trends.

This year’s conference (like the first) was organized by Universidade Aberta do Portugal (UAb) in Lisbon, Portugal. Since the inaugural SCOP meeting in 1993, the world of open and distance education has undergone dramatic changes. The number of players in ODL has increased exponentially as  online learning has become mainstream practice in higher education. In the last decade, also, new electronic forms of open educational practice have developed, creating a set of new challenges and opportunities for university top leadership in open and distance education institutions.

The 2013 SCOP meeting therefore focused on change and how leadership has a pivotal role in promoting it. It was also partly a celebration because 2013 is a special anniversary year for the Open University of Portugal, since UAb was also celebrating its own 25 year anniversary. Lastly I have a special connection to UAb, as I received an honorary degree (doctor honoris causa) from UAb in 1995 for my research in distance education teaching.

The European Commission’s strategy for open education

The conference opened with the obligatory speaker from the European Commission, but this time the speaker, Pierre Mairesse, the director responsible in the European Commission for issues related to the European strategy for education and lifelong learning, was both well informed about open and distance education, and very informative about the European Commission’s strategies towards open and online learning.

He talked particularly about the EC’s Opening Up Education initiative, details of which can be found at the Open Education Europa web site. The aim of the initiative is to bring the digital revolution to education with a range of actions in three areas: open learning environments, open educational resources, and connectivity and innovation. The Open Education Europa portal provides convenient access to a wide range of resources, events and papers about open and online education in Europe. As the press release in September stated:

More than 60% of nine year olds in the EU are in schools which are still not digitally equipped. The European Commission’s … action plan [aims to] to tackle this and other digital problems which are hampering schools and universities from delivering high quality education and the digital skills which 90% of jobs will require by 2020. 

For instance, on the Open Education Europa web site you can access OER4Adults, an overview and analysis of practices with Open Educational Resources in adult education in Europe. This has such important implications for the utilization of OERs that I will do a separate post in a few days time on this topic.

Another interesting page on the Open Education Europa web site is the MOOC European scorecard (see below – date loaded: 2 December 2013):

MOOCs Europe 2013

This means that roughly one third of MOOCs are now European, and even more surprisingly, over one third of the European MOOCs are Spanish (probably due to the potential markets in Latin America).

The rationale and the actions proposed by the European Commission through its Erasmus+ and Horizon 2020 programs can be found in the following document: Opening up Education: Innovative teaching and learning for all through new Technologies and Open Educational Resources 

Leadership for change in a time of openness

I was the second keynote speaker and I focused on what has changed in 20 years and how institutional leadership has evolved in the world of open and distance learning. Now I need to point out that I have never been a university president, nor am I likely to be one, and there are very good reasons for that, but I have been a close observer and researcher into leadership in open and distance learning.

My key points were as follows:

the key drivers of change in post-secondary education have changed:

  • there is in fact increased access now in many OECD countries, with participation rates in several countries exceeding 50% of a cohort going on to some form of post-secondary educational experience. The issue now in some countries is more about cost than access. The massification of conventional higher education also raises questions about quality.Thus access is no longer a unique selling point for open institutions, although access still remains a critical issue for many developing countries and for marginalized groups in more developed countries. 
  • for economic development reasons there has been a shift of focus towards developing high level skills geared towards the needs of knowledge workers, including digital literacy (in its broadest sense); the mainly ‘broadcast’ pedagogical models adopted by large open universities therefore also need to change for these skills to be developed

increased competition in the ‘open’ and ‘distance’ spaces

  • many conventional universities have moved into online learning, a trend that has rapidly increased with the development of MOOCs; open educational resources also provide another form of open-ness, so ‘open’ or ‘distance’ or ‘online’ are now no longer unique defining features for ODL institutions

leadership for change means challenging prevailing institutional cultures

  • this is as true – if not more true – for established open and distance learning institutions as it is for conventional universities. A particular challenge is to develop nimble and quick models of quality course design that can be applied on a massive scale, and moving away from old technologies such as print and broadcasting while still managing very large numbers of students
  • to implement change successfully, leadership needs to
    • set clear and measurable goals for the institution that differentiate it from other providers
    • involve faculty, instructional designers and media designers in developing new course designs built around new web 2.0 technologies
    • devolve decision-making about technologies to those in the front line (faculty and students), but ensuring they are properly prepared for such decision-making through pedagogical training
    • develop activity-based business models that track the true costs of changing course design and delivery models

one vision for teaching in the future

To conclude, I offered a few pointers to what unique contributions open and distance learning institutions could bring to the higher education market place. In particular:

  • an emphasis on pedagogies built around 21st century digital technologies,
  • open admission policies,
  • reduced cost per student through economies of scale and scope, and
  • quality online learner support

will still provide unique competitive advantages for open and distance learning organizations.

If you want a copy of my slides, please send an e-mail to: tony.bates@ubc.ca

A case-study of institutional change: Universidade Aberta, Portugal

António Moreira Texeira, of the Open University of Portugal, described how between 2006-2009 UAb moved all its courses from print-based to online, resulting in a 40% increase in enrollments and the addition of many new students from Brazil. This change process included introducing a new pedagogical model based on collaborative and interactive learning, and the training of all its instructors/faculty in online teaching.

I was involved in a minor way in helping the university set up its Masters in e-Learning Pedagogy (MPEL – Mestrado em Pedagogia do Elearning), and I had a wonderful 90 minutes after the conference with about 30 students and staff from the program who were attending a one-day workshop. They asked some great questions. The program is in Portuguese: to enrol click here

Talking with MPED students

Talking with MPEL students and staff after the session

The African Virtual University

Bakary Diallo, the Rector of the African Virtual University, gave a very interesting presentation on the development of the African Virtual University, which to date is a meta-organization providing online and distance education services to many existing universities across Africa.

The AVU has more than 50 academic partner institutions in more than 27 countries in Africa. It helps partner institutions set up local study centres in different countries, where programs from numerous partner institutions, learner support and guidance, and access to e-learning technologies are made available. To date there are 10 such centres, in 10 different countries.

The main focus at the moment is on teacher education, with four bachelor programs for teachers of math, physics, chemistry and biology, offered through a consortium of 12 universities in 10 African countries. Delivery is mixed mode, through online learning and attendance at local centres.

AVU though also offers or facilitates a wide range of webinars, self-learning programs, workshops, and certificate/diploma programs, in collaboration with the partner institutions. AVU also offers student scholarships.

Leadership and policy forums

The rest of the conference was given over to participative forums/workshops/buzz groups that discussed ICDE research projects, various innovative projects from member institutions, government relations, co-operation and collaboration with and between other similar organizations, such as EDEN, OECD, UNESCO, SEAMO, EADTU, EFQUEL, Sloan, and the African Council for Distance Education


Not being a university president, this was the first time I had attended a SCOP ICDE conference. I was impressed at how pragmatic and focused the discussions were. The conference also provided a unique opportunity for networking at a leadership level.

Nevertheless, the ICDE membership faces some significant challenges. This is nothing new. For many years, its members have struggled for academic recognition (and in some countries still do, such as Nigeria). However, over time open, distance and online learning have become more accepted and MOOCs have propelled this acceptance even further.

At the same time, the ICDE institutions now have major challenges from conventional and Ivy League universities, particularly for the open and online space. However, open and distance learning institutions still have much to offer, particularly in terms of cost-effectiveness, flexibility and quality. What they lack at the moment is a clear communications strategy that focuses on their unique contributions, and ensures that this message gets across, particularly at the political and governmental level. This conference will have helped moved that agenda forward.

Lastly, Lisbon is one of my very favourite cities: beautiful, unique, with very friendly people, and wonderful wine and food, especially if you like fish. Worth the jet-lag any day.

A view of Lisbon from the Alfama area

A view of Lisbon from the Alfama area



An e-portfolio approach to measuring competencies

Pereira, A. et al. (2009) Evaluating continuous assessment quality in competence-based education online: the case of the e-folio EURODL, December 9

The paper, from researchers at the Open University of Portugal, proposes two main types of instruments to be used in undergraduate fully online courses: e-folios and p-folios. The e-folio “is a short digital document elaborated by the student and published online to be visualized by the teacher, and should clearly demonstrate that the student acquired or developed a given competence” The e-folios may be complemented by a p-folio that takes place in a face-to-face setting. The p-folio may take the form of “a set of questions defined by the teacher, or other forms, such as the presentation of a project or a report, according to the competences to be developed by the students.

Thanks to Lourdes Guardia for bring this to my attention.

Reforming distance education in Portugal

Tajo el Castillo de Almourol, Portugal (from Flickr © Hamster Volador, Creative Commons License)

Tajo el Castillo de Almourol, Portugal (from Flickr © Hamster Volador, Creative Commons License)

Hasan, A. et al. (2009) Reforming Distance Learning Higher Education in Portugal Lisbon Portugal: Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education

This is a report to the Minister from an international advisory panel. It covers not only ‘pure’ distance education but also developments in e-learning in the traditional universities.

This report would provide an excellent case study for any students of higher education policy, as it covers supply and demand, policy, structural, quality, financial and legislative issues, while at the same time providing a pretty good insight to the current status of online and distance learning in Portugal.

It starts from a conclusion that despite recent reforms to Universidade Aberta (UAb) (see previous blog), distance education in Portugal is far less developed than in most European countries, with less than 3 per cent of enrolments in higher education in Portugal being in distance courses. In particular the range of programs offered at a distance is very limited, with a very small amount of distance learning being offered by the conventional institutions.

The report recommends not only expansion in programs at UAb, but also expansion in distance learning programs by the conventional institutions, mainly through the formation of voluntary consortia of institutions. In both cases, earmarked government funding will be necessary.

And this is where the difficulty lies. The panel had set out convincing reasons and evidence as to why there needs to be at a minimum a fourfold increase in funding for distance learning programs in Portugal, but Portugal has been hit particularly hard by the recession, so it will be interesting to see how the government responds to the recommendations in this excellent report.

The full report can be downloaded from the European Association of Distance Teaching Universities’ web site

Thanks to Re.Vica’s November 2009 newsletter for directing me to this report.

Barriers to change: Using technology to improve the cost-effectiveness of the academy: Part 3

The story so far

In an earlier post (Using technology to improve the cost-effectiveness of the academy: Part 1), I argued that higher education institutions were suffering systemic problems trying to deal with the challenge of increasing access, increasing or even maintaining quality, and lowering costs, despite extensive use of ICTs.

In the second post in this series (A vision for the future: Using technology to improve the cost-effectiveness of the academy: Part 2) , I argued that we needed new visions for the university that tried to deal with the challenge by making more cost-effective use of ICTs, but also, more importantly, requiring major cultural and organizational changes, and I offered my own alternative vision for the university in the future. At the end of this post, I suggested that these changes are nevertheless unlikely to occur, despite the challenge. In this post, I will explore the systemic barriers to change.

Satisfaction with the basic traditional university model

Despite lots of usually justified grumbling by faculty about overwork, too large classes, and increasing amounts of time spent on bureaucratic form-filling for accountability exercises, the basic model of teaching through classrooms on campuses with fixed schedules and timetables is generally accepted as the ‘best’ one. All that is needed is more resources for more professors and smaller classes. However, for most post-secondary institutions in even the most economically advanced countries, we have seen that this is not going to happen.

The status of the Ivy league universities

The closest to the ideal model for the majority of academics, students and the public are the traditional Ivy league universities: Harvard, Yale, Oxford, Cambridge, etc. Of course, these offer in the main first class university education. Students have relatively close contact with the ‘best minds’, have small classes and excellent facilities. More importantly access to these universities opens doors to top quality jobs and influential social and cultural networks. It would be madness for these institutions to change radically. They have a largely unassailable competitive advantage. They are well funded, have enormous student demand for places, and great prestige with governments and the public alike.

The problem though is that too many other institutions wish to aspire to this model. The importance paid to university rankings and mission statements such as ‘to be one of the 100 top universities in the world’ are symptoms of this aspiration. The Ivy League institutions are by definition elite institutions. It is not a model that can be economically reproduced in very large numbers, and certainly is not a model that can be reproduced with the kind of resources most public institutions are likely to access. It is with these less well-funded public institutions where the real problem lies. They cannot serve large numbers well by using a watered down version of traditional teaching. As a result, many students are getting a poor deal.

The solution then is not to abolish the still valuable if elite and socially divisive Ivy League universities, but to find models that better serve the vast majority of university and college students. This though is a challenge if such institutions try to ape – and ape badly – the Ivy League institutions.


Coming more specifically to using information and communications technologies to improve the cost-effectiveness of universities. the governance system of universities militates against major change. For good reasons, in most economically advanced countries, universities are relatively independent of government. Basically the attitude of universities to government is ‘Throw the money over the wall and go away.’ Governments in some countries have responded to this by demanding greater accountability (e.g. the Spellings Commission in the USA, the Quality Assurance Agency in the UK, and Degree Quality Assurance committees in Canada.) However, these agencies or commissions do not have the mandate to challenge the basic model – they just want to be sure that the existing model is running as well as possible.

Also, in the last 10-20 years, governments have by and large retreated from creating alternative models such as the open universities established in the 1970s and 80s. Where they have attempted to establish new models – such as the UK’s e-University – they have often been disasters. The policy in recent years, especially with regard to ICTs, is to hope that the integration of ICTs will lead to change within existing institutions. As we have seen, by and large this hope has largely been disappointed, in terms of major structural changes.

But the real hope for change has to come from within the more traditional, state-funded public universities, simply because that’s where he majority of university students will be found. Here again, though, internal governance is a major barrier to systemic change. Sangra (2008) found in an in-depth study of the governance of ICTs in five European universities that in general, the universities had weak governance structures for decision-making and implementation, and in particular lacked well-defined strategic directions or rationales, with regard to using ICTs for teaching.

One reason for this is that decision-making is deliberately dispersed in universities. The autonomy of the individual faculty member, and the view that senior academic administrators are there to serve the needs as much of the faculty as the students, means that it is difficult to make decisions for radical change. The demand has to come from the professors themselves, and we have seen that what they want is the traditional, elite model. There are then no real incentives for change, either internally or externally, and few power levers to bring about such change.

What can be done?

The success of open universities in the 1970s and 80s does suggest that governments acting with wisdom (don’t laugh) and determination can bring about significant change in the higher education system, and it is probably time to see some more experimentation with new ICT-based models at least sponsored or encouraged by government (although calling them ‘virtual’ universities is probably not going to be helpful.) What is really needed are some models deliberately designed around hybrid learning, to cater for lifelong learners, up-grading of workers in vocational, health and other knowledge based industries, and minority groups not well served by the existing system (such as First Nations in Canada), possibly on a private/public partnership funding model.

Governments do provide guidance and some incentives for change, mainly through increased funding to enable student numbers to increase, and on rare occasions, will direct that money be spent on innovation and change. One example was the government of British Columbia, which between 1994 and 1995, withheld a total of 3.5% of operating budgets over two years, which the institutions then had to bid for through projects that supported innovation and change. One outcome of this policy was the development of WebCT (later bought by Blackboard) at UBC. This development was directly funded from the innovation fund, and had a major impact on the uptake of online learning worldwide. Another example is the Open University of Portugal, which was given clear instructions by the Portuguese Minister of Education in 2006 to modernise or close down. As a result it moved all its print-based correspondence courses online within 18 months, after training all faculty members not only in technology but also in a constructivist pedagogical approach.

Also, it should be recognised that the for-profit sector in the USA and Malaysia especially has been successful in developing online universities, such as Wawasa Open University in Malaysia and Kaplan University, University of Phoenix Online, and Full Sail University in the the USA.

But the challenge is whether traditional, public universities can make radical changes internally. Without strong incentives, and more clearly defined governance structures, change is likely to be slow and piece-meal. The danger is that change never reaches a critical mass, and the system is locked into an inefficient traditional model of public mass higher education for ever, or at least until the public gives up, and turns it over to the private sector.


I believe that it will be possible for some state-funded public universities radically to innovate and change their structures and teaching methods, and become more efficient and effective, through the use of ICTs. This will happen though only if there are strong incentives, both externally, and internally. This will also require strong leadership committed to fundamental change. Above all, for universities to use ICTs more efficently and effectively, an overhaul of traditional governance structures will be required, to ensure faculty engage and buy into the need for change, and to provide the means for ensuring implementation and maintenance of change.

Because the issue of governance is so critical for improving the cost-effectiveness of universities through the use of ICTs, Albert Sangra and I are co-authoring a book on the governance of ICTs in the university, which is to be published by Jossey-Bass in 2010.


Sangra, A. (2008) The Integration of Information and Communication Technologies in the University: Models, Problems and Challenges (La Integració de les TICs a la Universitat: Models, Problemes i Reptes) Unpublished Ph.D., Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Tarragona, Spain (Original in Catalan: for an extensive English summary, click here).

Reports and articles on e-portfolios for learning

This section of the web site is managed by:

Lourdes Guàrdia
Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences
Universitat Oberta de Catalunya

E-mail: lguardia@uoc.edu


Callan, V. (2009) How organisations are using e-learning to support national training initiatives Canberra: Australian Flexible Learning Network

This project, funded by  the Australian Flexible Learning Framework, has investigated how organisations are using e-learning in innovative ways that support national initiatives by providing more responsive, flexible and effective approaches to training, particularly in the areas of skills shortage. It includes a brief discussion of the use of e-portfolios for vocational and technical training. Curyer et al (below) has a more detailed examination of e-portfolios in this area in Australia.

Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) (2008). “Effective practice with e-portfolio. Supporting 21st century learning”.
This guide investigates current good practice in the use of e-portfolios as a support to learning and as an aid to progression to the next stage of education or to employment.

Hartnell-Young, E. et al. (2007) “Impact study of e-portfolios on learning”.
Becta commissioned researchers from the Learning Science Research Institute, University of Nottingham, UK, to investigate the impact that e-portfolios can have on learners in schools, further education, higher education and work-based learning. Case studies of eight e-portfolio projects were created from document analysis and interviews and surveys of learners and teachers. Findings relating to the impact of e-portfolio systems on learning outcomes and processes and commencing and sustaining e-portfolio development were drawn from cross case analysis.

Curyer, S & Leeson, J. & Mason, J. & Williams, A. (2007) Developing e-portfolios for VET: Policy issues and interoperability
The E-standards for Training project has released a report on e-portfolio systems in the vocational education and training system in Australia. This report specifically focuses on e-portfolios to support transitions between training, other forms of learning, and employment. The study shows the potential for e-portfolios to provide a systematic, electronic method for learners to record and control access to evidence of their learning.


Batson, T. (2010) The testing straightjacket Campus Technology, July 7

Trent Batson provides a critique of existing testing practices, with their emphasis on memorization, and suggests that e-porfolios provide a more authentic form of assessment.

Fusch, D. (2010) Integrating e-portfolios in your assessment strategy Academic Impressions, July 16

David Fusch interviews Tracey Penny Light, of the University of Waterloo, who offers several steps for integrating e-portfolios into an instructor’s assessment strategy.

Krämer, J. and Seeler, G. (2009) E-portfolios as tools to assess generic competences in distance learning study courses Elearningpapers, September

This paper by faculty from a German graduate business school. It discusses the need to evaluate students’ performance in online distance education courses. It focuses on the so-called “generic” or “key” competences, which are increasingly in demand as part of academic competence goals. This paper discusses the suitability of portfolios which at the same time integrate elements of self-reflection and feedback in fulfilling these requirements.

International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning (iJET), Vol. 4, No. 1 (2009) published a special edition focused on e-portfolios with Serge Ravet as the guest editor. The following three articles are from this special edition.

Himpsl, K. and Baumgartner, P. (2009) Evaluation of E-Portfolio Software International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning Vol. 4, No. 1, pp. 16-22

E-Portfolios are a new type of software and it is still relatively vague to determine which functions are obligatory – that is which functions constitute characteristic features – and which functions are just optional (“nice to have“). This article describes the concept and the preliminary results of a research project which was conducted to evaluate E-Portfolio software, and aims at providing decision guidance for implementing E-Portfolios in higher education – first and foremost from the pedagogical perspective. Which recommendations can be made to an institution which now wants to implement electronic portfolios with a certain objective? [Note: Only the abstract is available at http://online-journals.org/i-jet/article/view/831. For a pdf copy, you need to register here first. There is no subscription required.]

Bisovsky, G. and Schaffert, S. (2009) Learning and Teaching With E-Portfolios: Experiences in and Challenges for Adult Education International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning Vol. 4, No. 1, pp. 13-15

Based on short introduction into the e-portfolio method, this contribution focuses on experiences and challenges for adult education: For that, it describes best practice, current projects and initiatives in European adult and continuing education. Additionally, the results of interviews with experienced adult educators who have already worked with the e-portfolio method will be referred: The interviews focus on competencies that educators need, if they are working with the e-portfolio method. In a short outlook, requirements for a future professional development and training for e-portfolio trainers in adult education will be sketched.

Hilzensauer, W. and Buchberger, G. (2009) MOSEP – More Self-Esteem With My E-Portfolio: Development of a Train-the-Trainer Course for E-Portfolio Tutors International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning Vol.4. No. 1

E-portfolios are known as a technology- supported learning method for the documentation of competency development. In this article the didactic approach, the course design and the results of the Leonardo da Vinci project MOSEP (More self-esteem with my e-portfolio) are described. The main objective of the project was to develop, test and evaluate a new e-portfolio training concept for teachers and tutors in order to support learners during their competence development phase.

Cambridge, D.  et alt. (2008) “The Impact of the Open Source Portfolio on Learning and Assessment” MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching Vol. 4, No. 4, December 2008

An article that surveys the current state of OSP development and use and shares results of research on its effectiveness.

Brandes, G. and Boskic, N. (2008) “Eportfolios: From description to analysis” The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, Vol. 9, No 2 (2008), ISSN: 1492-3831:
Another interesting article, from authors at the University of British Columbia. Here is the abstract from that article: ‘In recent years, different professional and academic settings have been increasingly utilizing e-Portfolios to serve multiple purposes from recruitment to evaluation. This paper analyzes e-Portfolios created by graduate students at a Canadian university. Demonstrated is how students’ constructions can, and should, be more than a simple compilation of artifacts. Examined is an online learning environment whereby we shared knowledge, supported one another in knowledge construction, developed collective expertise, and engaged in progressive discourse. In our analysis of the portfolios, we focused on reflection and deepening understanding of learning. We discussed students’ use of metaphors and hypertexts as means of making cognitive connections. We found that when students understood technological tools and how to use them to substantiate their thinking processes and to engage the readers/ viewers, their e-Portfolios were richer and more complex in their illustrations of learning. With more experience and further analysis of exemplars of existing portfolios, students became more nuanced in their organization of their e-Portfolios, reflecting the messages they conveyed. Metaphors and hypertexts became useful vehicles to move away from linearity and chronology to new organizational modes that better illustrated students’ cognitive processes. In such a community of inquiry, developed within an online learning space, the instructor and peers had an important role in enhancing reflection through scaffolding. We conclude the paper with a call to explore the interactions between viewer/reader and the materials presented in portfolios as part of learning occasions.’

Berlanga, A.; Sloep, P.; Brouns, F.; Bitter-Rijpkema, M.; Koper, R. (2008) Towards a TENCompetence ePortfolio. International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning (iJET) 3.
This article argues that the TENCompetence ePortfolio definition should integrate rhetorical, pedagogical, social, and technical perspectives. The rhetorical perspective is needed to show the learner’s competences, achievements and history; the pedagogical perspective aims at supporting learner’s self-reflection, through the definition of competences mastered, review and creation of (new) competence development plans, and assessment of competences; the social perspective aims at fostering interaction and social help support; and the technical perspective aims at supporting the other three perspectives. Guiding principles for the design of the TENCompetence ePortfolio are provided, and the aforementioned perspectives detailed.

Ring, G., Weaver, B. and Jones, J. (2008) Electronic Portfolios: Engaged Students Create Multimedia-Rich Artifacts, Journal of the Research Centre for Educational Technology (Kent State) Vol. 4, No. 2

This is an interesting paper that shows the potential of the ePortfolio as a learning tool. The authors describe how to help students understand why they should create an ePortfolio, and how by scaffolding them through the process of how to create an ePortfolio it is possible to get a successful implementation.


This paper briefly summarizes the implementation of a university-wide electronic portfolio requirement. We begin with a systemic view of the ePortfolio Program and narrow our focus to a view of ePortfolio integration into two different classes. The rationale behind the Clemson University ePortfolio Program is to build a mechanism through which core competencies are demonstrated and evaluated. The target classes are a general education English class focusing on 20th and 21st century literature and a professional development seminar in computer science. Both classes allow students to select their topics and present their work to the class using a variety of media types, and both include a form of peer evaluation. These classes confirm that when students’ choice is built into the assignments we are pleasantly surprised by the outcomes. In addition, an extensive variety of artifacts are generated from each course that can be used to demonstrate the general education competencies, provide authentic evidence of learning, and generate a career portfolio. In our examples, we will describe the planning, implementation, and dissemination processes necessary to integrate the ePortfolio Program into university courses.

Ward, C. and Moser, C. (2008) E-Portfolios as a Hiring Tool: Do Employers Really Care?  EDUCAUSE Quarterly, vol. 31, no. 4 (October–December 2008)

The article states: ‘E-portfolios demonstrate students’ learning and competency, yet higher education has not persuaded employers to use them in recruiting and selecting employees.’ This is a report on a survey of employers regarding the use of e-portfolios for hiring.

Pereira, A. et al. (2009) Evaluating continuous assessment quality in competence-based education online: the case of the e-folio EURODL, December 9

The paper, from researchers at the Open University of Portugal, proposes two main types of instruments to be used in undergraduate fully online courses: e-folios and p-folios. The e-folio “is a short digital document elaborated by the student and published online to be visualized by the teacher, and should clearly demonstrate that the student acquired or developed a given competence” The e-folios may be complemented by a p-folio that takes place in a face-to-face setting. The p-folio may take the form of “a set of questions defined by the teacher, or other forms, such as the presentation of a project or a report, according to the competences to be developed by the students.