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Key Elements to Consider for E-Portfolios

For most instructors and institutions considering adopting an e-portfolio system, the focus is on assessment and accreditation.  Institutions need to be able to show “growth” over time, to demonstrate learning.  It is this need, generally for accreditation purposes, that has driven the interest in e-portfolios.

That, however, is not the primary concern or interest of the students who will own the e-portfolios.  In order to have true student buy-in an e-portfolio system needs to meet these needs of students:

1. A single place where they can store all their work and retreive it at will, so they don’t have to have their work in several places.

2. The ability to have presentation portfolios and to determine who has and doesn’t have access…sharing, networking…

3. The ability to keep the portfolio forever, if they’d like

4. Ease of use

Point number three should really be a tipping point when selecting a system, and when determining hosting solutions, because most systems offer at least points 1 and 2.  Point number three is of concern, because having to remove all their work when they leave the school can be a difficult task.  Many e-portfolios do not export easily.

Choosing an e-portfolio system is much like a marriage:  once you’ve committed yourself, it can be extremely difficult to switch to a different partner (often not worth the aggravation).  You also are at the mercy of the company in regards to cost, viability, and changes in the system.

There are a few good open source e-portfolio systems out there–and they lack nothing when compared with those that are not open source.  Next post I’ll review one of them: Mahara

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