There’s a scene in The Wizard of Oz where the Wicked Witch sends her monkeys to tear the Scarecrow apart, leaving pieces of him strewn in the field. The Tin Man and the Lion arrive after the fact. When the Scarecrow explains what happened, the Tin Man humorously remarks “Well, that’s you all over…” This is what I think of when I hear people talk about having students use Web 2.0 tools to create ePortfolios for their classes. I can understand the desire and even the pedagogy behind instructing students on the building of an ePortfolio, but what happens is that after 4 years, there are pieces of the student all over the web, and there is actually less hope of putting those pieces back into one body, than there was of putting the Scarecrow back together.
While I understand the value of having students use a program like LinkedIn to create an online resume and begin networking, such sites show only one side of the student and can only be used for very targeted activities. To remedy this, I think it is vitally important that institutions of learning begin offering all students access to an institutionally sponsored, comprehensive, student centered ePortfolio program. Yes, a lot of terms there, but not impossible. A program that is student centered, and that does include several other features: blogs, social networking components, public and private views, and the ability to export the contents should it be necessary, are available.
Eportfolios have become an important educational tool, not just for program assessment and not for accreditation purposes, but because they showcase a “whole” student, because they allow for authentic assessment, and because they allow instructors to work with students in forming the students own brand. If we don’t offer a comprehensive ePortfolio solution that students and faculty want to use, they will go elsewhere and the various pieces will be scattered all over the place.