Monday, 26 May 2014

Technology & Assessment: ePortfolios

There are many different types of portfolios: classroom writing folders, an artist's portfolio, a teacher's education portfolio, photo albums, etc. and
most, perhaps all, of us have used or kept a portfolio at one time or another.   
All portfolios are meant to “tell a story”, which makes me think that keeping a portfolio has less to do with the physical object (noun) and more to do with the process of communicating something about us/our journey to a particular audience. An ePortfolio, consequently, should be less like a digital file cabinet and more like a multi-format showcase of student learning. Rick Stiggins, in Classroom Assessment for Student Learning: Doing it Right -- Using it Well, asserts that "the desire to capture and communicate the depth of student learning has been at the heart of portfolio use for years", and I believe this should remain front and centre in ePortfolio use as well. 

Stiggins* goes on to state that:

A report card summarizes the story of achievement in one word at the same level of detail that a topic summarizes the story of a book: prejudice is a topic of "To Kill a Mockingbird", but that one word does not begin to tell the story.
An ePortfolio can provide a rich assessment measure because of its ability to tell so much more of "the story".
From Portfolio to ePortfolio: New Tools...Same Processes
The flat, thin case of the traditional portfolio has been replaced with a wide assortment of modern, digital equivalents that can be accessed on all sorts of devices including mobiles. These new tools can be used to:

  • collect work
  • reflect on learning in multiple formats (including multi-media)
  • showcase work online to multiple audiences
  • provide a platform for dialogue about learning artifacts or to engage in reflections
  • to provide feedback/self-reflect in order to improve learning
Multiple Purposes:

There are many purposes for keeping an ePortfolio:
  • to show growth or change over time
  • to help develop process skills such as self-evaluation and goal setting
  • to identify strengths and weaknesses
  • to track the development of one or more products or performances
Because the range of purposes is so diverse, an ePortfolio can fit nicely into a class or school assessment plan. An ePortfolio can "fill in the blanks" left by other tools commonly used to "tell the learning story" or to capture learning that is not easily captured in other, more traditional assessments.

There is a powerful motivational and metacognitive component to ePortfolios as well. As Paris and Ayers** observe:
The overarching purpose of portfolios is to create a sense of personal ownership over one's accomplishments [learning], because ownership engenders feelings of pride, responsibility, and dedication.
Telling THEIR Stories

Creating an ePortfolio can be a powerful learning experience when the subject of the portfolio (the student) is the author of the portfolio. When students take part in creating a portfolio, they:
  • take notice of their learning
  • track their learning
  • celebrate their learning
  • build an understanding of who they are as learners
  • nurture a sense of self-accomplishment

Beneficial and Abundant Tools

ePortfolio's offer many benefits to both teachers and students in the classroom, and there is no shortage of digital tools available. Here are some links to web 2.0 tools and various apps that you might use with students to create ePortfolios:

Web 2.0 Tools:
Apps - iOS/Android/Windows 8:
Any other ePortfolio tech tools you'd like to recommend? Add them to the comments below!

*Stiggins, Richard J., Judith A. Arter, Jan Chappuis, and Stephen Chappuis. "Chapter 11: Portfolios." Classroom Assessment for Student Learning: Doing It Right -- Using It Well. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2007. 335. Print.
**Paris, S. and Ayres, L. (1994) Becoming Reflective Students and Teachers. American Psychological Association.


  1. If you are looking for a way to showcase online learning (MOOCs), try Great site! Provides a way to organize your work, certificates, past and current courses and to create a wishlist of future courses. Provides the user the ability to link their work to their LinkedIn account to show their on-going commitment to professional and personal development. Geared more towards teachers than K-12 students, but could be useful if online learning is being blended with F2F coursework.

    Having tried to create my own e-portfolio on many of the sites you listed above, I was happiest with (I blogged about it at

    1. Thanks for the feedback, Elizabeth. I'll be sure to check it out!