Introduction: Why build an ePortfolio?
is a purposeful collection of work that is posted online to: A) represents an individual's or organization's efforts, progress and achievements over time, B) indicates evidence of the attainment of knowledge, skills and attitudes, C) represent self-reflection concerning personal perspectives and philosophies, D) facilitate life-long learning and career development.
An ePortfolio is tangible proof of your work and abilities. It can help you demonstrate and effectively document your knowledge, achievements, and skills. Constructing an ePortfolio can also improve your technical skills through using interactive multimedia artifacts and software. The following are some of the advantages of assembling an ePortfolio:
ePortfolios can be seen as a low-cost digital repository that allows easy access to one's data, files, and resources. This feature can also help users to backup their files in case of emergency. Because of their low cost, ease of use, and practicality, portfolios can be considered a very functional tool to use for different purposes, anywhere, anytime. ePortfolios also can be easily constructed, customized, and shared which add more efficiency to them. In addition, users of ePortfolios can modify the contents of the digital portfolio to meet specific goals and manage access to different interested viewers such as employers, instructors, learners, or colleagues. ePortfolios allow users to present and organize their artifacts in a wide range of media types such as texts, images, links, files, audio and video clips. All these artifacts can be easily linked together and with other content in the ePortfolio. For example, "a student can link a piece of work to a statement describing a particular curriculum standard and to an explanation of why the piece of work meets that standard" (Helen Barrett).
Personal and Professional Development
An ePortfolio has great potential for improving professional development and success by demonstrating and tracking an individual's growth and progress over time. It is an effective approach to maximize self-awareness by identifying and underlining one's strengths and weaknesses. Furthermore, creating an ePortfolio can be an effective way to shape or empower the owner's personal and professional advancement towards his or her own standards.
ePortfolios are considered a powerful integrative environment where learners can expand their knowledge, exchange their ideas, and provide assistance or feedback to each other. They establish engaging and productive spaces to help the owners to work collaboratively and share formal or informal information in multiple interactive ways. Such an instructional environment can help to enhance learners' engagement, motivation, and positive attitudes toward learning. Further, by providing effective collaborative tools (e.g. social networking tools, group communication tools, forums), ePortfolios help to increase communication and social interaction across various disciplines and media.
Assessment & Reflection
ePortfolios play a great role in promoting the owners' assessment and reflection on each other’s work as well as their own. Employers, for example, can utilize ePortfolios to evaluate their employees' performance, skills, and expertise. In educational context, however, teachers can use ePortfolio to observe their students' achievement and growth during the learning process. By doing so, teachers can measure their students’ competency and provide any needed support. Moreover, through providing reflective spaces and practices, ePortfolios can help to improve the learners' self-assessment skills, to demonstrate their weaknesses and strengths, and to take ownership of their own learning.
Dynamic Personal Learning Environment
ePortfolios provide unique avenues for promoting deep learning and skill building opportunities for their developers. They offer a technology enhanced environment for the users to collaborate, share, engage, inspire, exhibit, and reflect. ePortfolios also present a rich setting for learners to make connections between their own prior knowledge and new knowledge or between other people's different learning experiences. By displaying knowledge in multiple media, ePortfolios can support and reach the needs of all learners in several interactive ways. Owners of ePortfolios can potentially have access to different private and public digital resources offered in many virtual communities. In addition, they can utilize various multimedia tools to build new skills or improve existing ones such as technical, communication, or goal setting skills.
What to include in an ePortfolio?
In order to determine what to include in your ePortfolio, you need to first identify your ePortfolio purpose, type, and audience. These factors should always be considered when deciding on which content to include. For example, the contents of your ePortfolio will vary depending on your primary audiences and how you want to present yourself to them. However, generally, there are no specific rules on what to include in your ePortfolio, yet certain components and features are essential.
An ePortfolio, and your biography in particular, gives you a simple and practical opportunity to represent yourself effectively. Biography is basically a brief, easy-to-read, narrative version of your resume, but with more emphases on your personality. The components of your bio typically begin with your basic information such as your name, contact info, email address, and your current occupation. Your biography should have a description of your educational background such as where and when you went to school and what degrees you earned. It should also contain personal information such as your place of birth, and where you currently reside. Besides stating your current work position, a summarized description of your professional background, experiences, and accomplishments should also be provided (note that biography is usually written in the third person). In this section of your ePortfolio, you could share a brief personal narrative about your interests, activities, life, and family. While it is very important to highlight your major skills, awards, achievements, and qualifications, it is even more important to document your development and update your biography regularly.
In this section, you should include a brief description of your educational background and academic training. Your educational qualifications should be listed in reverse chronological order starting from most recent to least recent. For each entry in your educational list, you should provide the name and location of institutions you have attended, your degrees, majors, minors, and the actual or anticipated date of graduation (month and year). To show your academic excellence, list honors, awards, training certificates, publications, professional licenses, conferences, workshops, study abroad programs, internships, and scholarships. In addition, you could include any relevant projects, coursework, testimonials, GPA scores, transcripts, continuing education, major test results, presentations, and professional affiliations and memberships.
This part of your ePortfolio should consist of your professional background, goals, and skills. It should also convey how your experiences and skills are well suited to your professional goals and to the careers you are seeking. Since it is preferable to use a reverse chronological order when listing your jobs, you always should start listing your most recent position and work experience to the oldest. For each position, include the names and locations of employing organizations, job titles, dates of employment (month/year), references, their contact information, and your job's duties and responsibilities. Use bullet points-description when illustrating your job's duties and accomplishments. Try to use a consistent and simple style and layout to make this section easy to read and review as possible.
A strong ePortfolio should successfully express your objectives and expertise. Therefore, you should identify and highlight your professional goals and demonstrate skills related to your previous or current careers. Articulate precisely what do you stand for? What do you aspire to do with your career? Where do you see yourself in two to five years? What are some of your strengths? And, what are your short-term and long-term goals?
As well as your educational background, you need to emphasize your abilities and knowledge. Document certificates of any additional training and workshops, certification of technical skills, awards and honors, a scanned copy of your resume, your transcript, volunteer work and community services, major projects, publications, internships, leadership, communication, public speaking, foreign language skills, and any conferences or seminars you have attended.
Performance and Skills
To make your ePortfolio stand out from the others, it is important to display evidence of your performance and skills. Therefore, your ePortfolio should consist of a detailed examination of your skills; therefore, you should state the name of the skill area; the knowledge or personal traits that contribute to your success in that skill area; your background and specific experiences that demonstrate your application of the skill [tamu.edu]. Besides illustrating your education and professional skills, including your personal and extracurricular skills can greatly boost the effectiveness of your ePortfolio. However, you should always keep your ePortfolio's purpose and audience in mind when deciding what activities to include. Examples of good personal and extracurricular activities include voluntary work, technical skills, writing skills, internships, study abroad, communication skills, teaching, public speaking, personal learning activities, foreign languages skills, sports participation, military service, clubs involvement, leadership positions, and professional affiliations or memberships.
Evidence of competencies
Regardless of your ePortfolio's purpose and type, you should always include evidence of your competence in your area of expertise. By doing so, you can effectively represent the various levels of your attainment and illustrate a wide range of your skills, knowledge, and abilities to your ePortfolio's viewers (e.g. Prospective employers, clients, teachers, colleagues, etc.). Samples of your work can be in various formats and media types such as text files, images, links, graphics, audio clips, video clips, electronic presentations, documents, database projects, and other multimedia formats. Each sample of work in your ePortfolio is called an artifact. All of the artifacts included should have a purpose, overview of goals, social importance, and expected learning outcomes. To make your ePortfolio more meaningful, you should associate reflections with your artifacts to demonstrate and deepen your understanding and growth over time in each domain. Depending on your ePortfolio's type, your artifacts should either display your best work, demonstrate your development and growth over time, document you progress for assessment purposes, or all of that. Therefore, your reflection should be based on the objectives, standards, and the expected learning outcomes of your artifacts or the whole ePortfolio. Reflect particularly on what you have learned and how your work illustrates the learning outcomes. Use self-assessment tools to analyze your own progress in the process of learning. Examples of artifacts include publications, electronic presentations, audio and video projects, assignments, research papers, writing samples, a copy of your resume as well as any other materials that can be added to your ePortfolio to represent your knowledge and show a proof of your proficiency.
The philosophy that guides your use of educational technology goes here. By identifying continuously examining, testifying, and verifying your philosophy you will foster your professional and personal growth. Your philosophy is a personal statement about your evolving beliefs that includes your conception of teaching and learning, a description of how best to integrate technology in your teaching, and a justification for why you use educational technology. A meaningful philosophy demonstrates that you are purposeful and reflective about your teaching and that you are able to articulate your goals and actions.
Awards and Honors
Since ePortfolios are mainly used to represent your capabilities and competence in your field, you should include collections of any honors and kudos received; awards and accolades won; certificates and training taken; and promotions or performance appraisals given. Memberships in professional or educational organizations you have had, as well as conferences, seminars, and workshops you have attended can also be included. In addition, you may want to contain a list of your recognitions, credentials, scholarships, published works, commissions, and accomplishments.
Front Page (Home/ About Me/ Welcome page)
Some of the aforementioned components can be placed in the front page of your ePortfolio which may be called the 'Home' or 'About Me' page. In this page, you can articulate the purpose of your ePortfolio by giving an overview of what your site is about and a bit about what potential visitors will find in your ePortfolio. To make your ePortfolio more interesting to view, you can include some appropriate academic or personal photos and graphics.
ePortfolios allow students to reflect on their learning, communicate with instructors, document credentials, or provide potential employers with examples of their work.
A student ePortfolio could be for college, potential internships, or a job after college. No matter when you create one, you should continually update it as you grow and acquire skills, knowledge, and experience. Building a high quality ePortfolio will take time and effort so it is much easier to keep it up to date as you improve yourself. You should take control of your ePortfolio and include pieces of work or accomplishments that you are proud of. Add your favorite pieces of work from classes, work, or just personal time as you create them to avoid forgetting them later on down the road. Since an ePortfolio can contain almost anything, it is great way to show off what is important to you and highlight your best skills or talents you possess.
As an added benefit, ePortfolios provide an opportunity for the student and faculty to reflect on the student’s skills and achievements. By keeping your ePortfolio up to date, you will gain a greater understanding of your personal growth which can aid in career planning, building a resume, and setting goals.
A great ePortfolio will make great strides in taking you wherever you decide to go by being memorable and not only demonstrating the quality of your work and level of skill, but will also exhibit in demand skills such as: professionalism, technical knowhow, organizational skill, creativity, and dedication to your craft.
Building a Student ePortfolio:
When building an ePortfolio, you should always consider the audience. Are you applying for college? Perhaps you would like to just share your work with a faculty member. Attempt to tailor your ePortfolio to your audience by highlighting the specific skills you wish to show off. If you are applying to college, what is your intended major? If it is a special program, what skills do you want to show you have to be developed? If you are preparing to find a job or internship what specific skills are required in the intended field?
You may include:
- Resume Information
Personal Belief Statements
- Your educational background.
- Your work experience.
- Your progress toward a degree including coursework.
Reflective Practitioner/Professional Development
- Your philosophy of education.
- Why you decided to become a teacher.
- Reflections on what you have learned.
- How you will integrate technology into your teaching.
- Your teaching goals
- Web sites and reading that reflect your philosophy of teaching
- Personal statements for how you will implement educational standards related to your teaching areas
General Teaching Competencies
- Narrative on what it means to be an urban or rural educator.
- Description of conferences you attended.
- Speakers who came to your school.
- New strategies you've learned for your content area.
- Journal reflections on your experience as a teacher.
- Descriptions of why you revised a lesson plan.
Evidence of Integrating Educational Technology
- Lesson plans, curricula outlines, or assignments.
- Teaching or civil service awards.
- Phoots and Videos of you teaching a class.
- Documentation of your teaching success or achievements.
- Any applicable published works or research.
- Past evaluations by supervisors.
- Lessons that integrate technology in your teaching.
- Describe how you will help students become good digital citizens.
- Describe how you use technology to improve your professional efficiency such as tracking student progress, contacting parents managing resources.
- Videos or photos that you or your students have created.
- Describe how you select and evaluate the effectiveness and safety of online resource.
- A list of your favorite teaching websites.
- Mind maps (concept maps, brain maps) that you or your students have created.
- Videos that you or your students have created.
- Evidence of engaging students in collaborative development activities such as webquests or wikis.
- Grade books and rubrics you use for assessment.
- Online surveys and quizzes that you have created.
- Collaborative development activities such as webquests or wikis.
- Social media (e.g. Facebook, twitter…) that you use in your teaching.
- Demonstration videos showing you using presentation software, smart board, or portable technologies in your teaching.
- Blended learning technologies you use including online course materials, syllabi and parental outreach.
- Example of a test you created and results of student performance.
- Example of a evaluation rubric that you have created.
- Examples of a non-traditional assessment used in class (project, paper, verbal exam, etc) and the student results.
- Examples of how you assess students on a daily basis to check understanding.
- Research on a community service or support organization.
- Involvement with parents such as emails, letters, phone logs, attendance at parent-teacher conferences.
- Community events or students field trips with photos showing your participation.
- Community organizations you have been involved with.
Be creative with multiple media formats
- Lessons that show differentiated instruction.
- Assignments, tests or projects that show adaptations for students of various ability levels or ESL students.
- Examples of universally designs that are adaptable to different ability levels.
- Description of how you have collaborated with other countries, regions, cultures.
- Reflection on your work with students of various backgrounds.
- Text files in a univesal format such as PDF.
- Presentations (e.g. powerpoint, prezi, keynote inspiration...).
- Social media (Facebook, edmoto, linkedin ).
- Community published media (web sites, wiki, you tube, blogs...)
- Video clips.
- Photos or art work.
- Audio recordings.
- Scanned examples of student work.
Before attempting to delve into the task of building a complete ePortfolio, it is necessary to take time to outline and organize your ideas. Know your audience and what pieces you want to highlight. List the pieces you will include. Decide on an overarching theme and style. What will be the first page your audience will see? What will your layout be like and how big? How will divide up the content? Is it too confusing or unintuitive to navigate? These are important questions you must address before creating an ePortfolio. There may be times, significant life events like graduation, which you will have to create a new or overhaul an old ePortfolio. These large scale changes will be much easier done on paper than in your actual ePortfolio.
A Faculty ePortfolio is a place where a teacher can showcase their style and teaching ability in a public and professional manner.
An ePortfolio can serve many purposes for faculty. They may be looking for a job or up for tenure and need a showcase for their abilities, used to share knowledge and collaborate between colleagues or peers, or as with any ePortfolio can be built for personal reflection and growth. A well-built ePortfolio will benefit the teacher and their students as it is a great way to document past endeavors and successes and reflect on what went poorly or well. It allows the teacher to refine their philosophies accordingly and to continue to experiment and grow as a teacher.
An ePortfolio is a living document that must be continually updated in an effort to showcase one’s best work. The emphasis is always on quality not quantity. Always, the materials should be carefully selected to demonstrate your own personal style and best works. A carelessly put together ePortfolio can do as much damage as a well thought out one can aid in success.
Building a Faculty ePortfolio:
A Faculty ePortfolio should contain documentation of your teaching practices. It should never stop growing, but it may need to be trimmed as well to avoid becoming a massive pile of all your work that does not demonstrate your growth and reflection. Again, the emphasis should be on your best accomplishments and achievements.
You may include:
- Your education philosophy and teaching goals.
- Lesson plans, curricula, or assignments.
- Videos of classes.
- Documentation of your teaching success or achievements.
- Reflections and what you have learned from previous efforts.
- Any applicable published works or research.
- Past evaluations by supervisors.
ePortfolios should be easy to navigate and have an overarching theme and style. Decide ahead of time what artifacts you will include and how they will fit together and be presented. Avoid piling everything together on a page. Instead present the most important pieces and personal reflection on each. Decide what will be immediately noticed upon arriving at the first page of an ePortfolio. How will users navigate your ePortfolio? Again, remember to keep it simple and highlight what you are most proud of.
Other Types of ePortfolios
Working ePortfolio (Working, Developmental, Process, or Growth ePortfolio)
A working ePortfolio is used to show evidence of growth and skill development over time. The process of the learning is emphasized in the working ePortfolio more than the product. The items represented in the working ePortfolio are mainly a collection of all pieces that the owner has developed along with their reflection in relation to a specific project, for example, early and late samples of one's work throughout a school year. This type of ePortfolio is used to convey the owner’s strengths and weaknesses and keep track of their advancement of a specific skill that they acquired during the learning period.
Assessment ePortfolio (Assessment, Reflective, or Learning ePortfolio)
An assessment ePortfolio is used to examine competencies and progress towards specific standards or goals. Assessment ePortfolios’ developers are expected to reflect on the intended learning outcomes of their artifacts. The owners are also allowed to receive feedback or suggestions from their ePortfolio’s viewers. One of the important aims for this type of ePortfolio is to document the achievement of the owners for grading and evaluating purposes.
Showcase ePortfolio (Showcase, Display, Best Work, or Representational ePortfolio)
A showcase ePortfolio is used to display one's best work and performance in particular areas. This type of ePortfolio highlights the product of the learning more than the process. The showcase ePortfolio is usually shared to show the best evidence of an individual's work such as sharing an ePortfolio with potential employers as a job resume or with a teacher to evaluate the overall achievement at the end of the semester.
Most portfolios are hybrids of the three types of portfolios listed above. Rarely will you find a portfolio that is strictly used for assessment, development or showcase purposes. Occasionally, you may come across showcase portfolios that do not show evidence of self-reflection, rubrics for assessment or feedback, however, as Helen Barrett, an expert in the field of e-portfolios, would say "a portfolio without standards, goals and/or reflection is just a fancy resume, not an electronic portfolio."
This type of ePortfolios allow job seekers to demonstrate their skills and capabilities to prospective employers by presenting official evidence of their best work. Therefore, it is especially important to demonstrate one's qualifications and credentials when constructing an ePortfolio. In addition, an ePortfolio is an effective way to exhibit one’s professional and personal development that he or she has obtained over time. Creating an ePortfolio can also help keep one's resume current by managing and organizing his or her progress and artifacts. Employers will often use ePortfolios to identify the best candidate for a particular job.
A personal ePortfolio is an online private portfolio where one can document, create, share, and communicate in a virtual environment.
This type of ePortfolio includes academic evidence of learning or teaching. (e.g Student ePortfolio, Teaching ePortfolio, Course ePortfolio, Faculty ePortfolio)
A project ePortfolio documents information, goals, and results of a specific study.