ePortfolios in a programme with an applied project

Development of ePortfolios in project-based learning can be a valuable activity for student-centered learning experience.  During development process an ePortfolio can serve as a way to track student progress and identify learning needs. After completion it can be submitted for assessment or peer review. In project-based learning it is a viable tool for formal and informal assessment.

An ePortfolio can be developed for a number of purposes including:

  • Seeking employment (‘Skills and Achievements” ePortfolio),
  • Recording professional development (Learning/Formative ePortfolio),
  • Showcasing of best works (a designer’s ePortfolio),
  • Evaluating/assessing the results of formal learning process (ePortfolio in project-based learning).

Project-based learning has a number of benefits for students and teachers and the rationale behind the embedding of ePortfolios into the programmes with an applied project is to enable students’ deeper learning, to offer them the opportunity for development of digital literacy skills and to take a control of their learning. It provides a space to examine their learning by considering what they already know, making decisions, realising their own strengths and weaknesses (Backlund et al., 2001). A completed ePortfolio illustrates a student’s efforts, demonstrates learning and growth and encourages self-evaluation by reflecting on own work and progress. Building an ePortfolio in a group fosters acquisition of ’soft’ skills such as team work, planning, organising and communication.

An ePortfolio is an alternative to a learner’s paper based portfolio that can be created with various web-based applications, e.g. Mahara, PebblePad, e-Track, SkillsPortfolio, Weebly etc. One advantage of an ePortfolio over a traditional paper based one is the ability to collect and collate artefacts in different formats such as images, multimedia, blog entries, text notes, attached files and hyperlinks.

The process of incorporating an ePortfolio in a programme with an applied project consists of a number of stages:

Stage 1: The initiation of a project where the purpose, scope and project plan are devised. During initiation, it is essential that the students know any criteria, specification or skills against which they are being evaluation. During initiation the students are introduced to the ePortfolio system. A project’s work can be carried out individually or in a group.

Stage 2: Throughout the project, the students collect information, evidence and results (artefacts) which match the project requirements. These artefacts are saved into their personal space in the ePortfolio system. These artefacts represent the student’s ePortfolio and can then be combined into various collections for presentation. Alongside the development of the ePortfolio it is often good practice to encourage students to keep a reflective journal with regular entries and personal insights on their experience of the learning process and their learning experience. This journal can also become an artefact and form part of the ePortfolio.

Stage 3: When the project is finished a completed ePortflolio can be submitted for evaluation. ePortfolio assessments often take the form of presentations where the students showcase their ePortfolio and achievements in the form of a web page.

Reference

Backlund, J., Gustafsson, J., Handberg, L., Lunsford, A., Stringer, J., Chen, . . . & Cannon, D. (2001,March 27). Learning portfolios: Folio thinking. Proposal to the Wallenberg Global Learning Network Funding Program. http://dart.stanford.edu:8080/sparrow_2.0/pages/teams/FThome.html

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