28 April 2009

ePortfolios: All works or selected works?

Last week, Ray Tolley commented here that my look at ePortfolios ignored the gradations between directed and not-directed types. (He is right.) He raised another important issue, "multiple concurrent audiences" of students' ePortfolios. That speaks to his question, "Should the ePortfolio contain all of a student's coursework or only selected samples?"

The easy answer is that it depends on the purpose of the portfolio. I like thinking about purposes of portfolios and tomorrow I'll post some of my standard sources on that topic. But Ray's question deserves much more lost sleep than an essay on purposes can generate.

All coursework or selected samples? Entire body of work or representative works? And who would judge the representativeness? (Apologies for that noun.)

I lean toward the strategy of reflect and select and then reflect some more. When the portfolio author reviews all products, a self-evaluation is begun. When the author selects a set of products, critical thinking must be employed for a style of assessment we rarely undertake consciously: identifying what we want to represent us (and knowing why). When the author then reflects on that set of products, the self-evaluation is complete (or at least ended).

Can a collection of all works be as successful? Would the ePortfolio strategy simply be collect and reflect? Or just collect? Might the collection better be called a repository? Do we end up back at the easy answer? It just depends on the purpose of the portfolio.

© 2009 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. Email contact: bold[AT]marybold.com. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as legal or professional advice. Bold is the co-author of Reflections: Preparing for your Practicum or Internship, geared to college interns in the child, education, and family fields. She is a consultant and speaker on assessment, distance learning, and technology.

1 comment:

Ray Tolley said...

Hi, Mary,

I like what you say but does an e-Portfolio have to have only one purpose? My own conclusion is that in practice an e-Portfolio can serve many purposes.

I am sure that a potential employer does not need to know which football team I support or the car I drive but these might be very important when trying to establish a local community project. Equally, a project that I'm working on might be viewed by my mentor but not yet seen by some of my peers with whom I collaborate.

I have often used the illustration of applying for several jobs at the same time (surely most of us have done this at one time or another?) We write different covering letters and use a variety of artefacts to support different self-representations to the different audiences.

The bottom line is this: instead of creating a range of different e-Portfolios for different purposes, often using some common artefacts, why not have all appropriate artefacts together in one e-Portfolio but using different 'views' for the different audiences?

I could go on, but much of this is documented in my blog!

Kind Regards,
Ray T