e-Portfolios: Are we there yet?

May 12th, 2008 by Wendy Tan

Trying to steer clear of getting into the boredom of cataloging rules, initially I was planning to entertain my fellow restaurant frequenters with “Chinese cuisine in Chinatowns around the world” for this writing. However, later I decided, after having attended a conference, to share equally delicious “food”, but it is for thought, instead. The following is sketchy information about electronic portfolios that I, a computer idiot, acquired from the Conference.

The conference, titled Making connections, eportfolios, integrative learning and assessment, was held on April 11-12, 2008 (plus afternoon of April 10 for pre-conference workshops) in LaGuardia Community College, which has played a leading role in promoting this cutting-age learning tool in New York City (For more information: http://eportfolio.lagcc.cuny.edu/). Meanwhile, on a national platform of eportfolio development, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, in partnership with state education and workforce organizations, launched the first statewide electronic portfolio management system in the United States in 2002 (For more information: http://www.efoliominnesota.com/)

What are e-portfolios? To simply put, e-portfolios are computerized version of portfolios. A personal e-portfolio is a digital documentation of collection, selection, reflection, and projection throughout an individual’s lifelong activities, artifacts, and memorabilia. Since an e-portfolios can also include a compilation of written assignments, exams, presentations, learning process, and achievements, a student portfolio could speak volumes when seeking employment during career pursuits.

Another perspective for e-portfolios is from the angle of classroom faculty and librarians. E-portfolios may provide a venue for educators to access the outcomes of student classwork and perform assessment or evaluation. Successful evidences about using eportfolios along with rubrics to teach various subjects or evaluate information literacy programs have been widely reported.

Though there are many free web 2.0 tools, such as: WordPress, Wikispaces, GoogleDocs, Googlepage, and Epsilen, etc, available to create and develop personal web-based eportfolios (For more information: http://electronicportfolios.org), to support e-portfolios in an institution, on the other side of fence, is not a cost-free decision. As a matter of fact, this is known as a difficult, time-consuming, expensive, and bound to fail crusade if it is NOT a well-funded and planned initiative.

My regret of attending this Conference is that I missed so many concurrent valuable seminars and lectures to further my knowledge. Nevertheless, I am grateful for being awakened to many possibilities of this educational resource and excited to know about the opportunities this tool can provide for personal growth and institutional development.

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