Saturday, October 09, 2004

 

Definitions

One problem with having a lot of knowledge in this field is that I have been challenging the definitions of "ePortfolio" that I have been reading online. The following definition was published on the ePortfolio Australia website:
An e-portfolio is a web-based information management system that uses electronic media and services. The learner builds and maintains a digital repository of artefacts, which they can use to demonstrate competence and reflect on their learning. Having access to their records, digital repository, feedback and reflection students can achieve a greater understanding of their individual growth, career planning and CV building. Accreditation for prior and/or extra-curricular experiences and control over access makes the e-portfolio a powerful tool.
In the December 2002 issue of Syllabus magazine, Trent Batson gave the following definition:
Since the mid-90s, the term "ePortfolio" or "electronic portfolio" has been used to describe collections of student work at a Web site. Within the field of composition studies, the term "Webfolio" has also been used. In this article, we are using the current, general meaning of the term, which is a dynamic Web site that interfaces with a database of student work artifacts. Webfolios are static Web sites where functionality derives from HTML links. "E-portfolio" therefore now refers to databasedriven, dynamic Web sites, not static, HTML-driven sites.
My grandchildren would disagree. We publish their ePortfolios on CD-ROM and this year on DVD. Until this fall, my ePortfolio was NOT on the WWW. I would rather say that an ePortfolio is stored in an electronic container, whether it is a web-server, optical media (CD or DVD) or even video tape. An ePortfolio does not have to be on the web; a web-based or online portfolio, yes, but an ePortfolio is an electronic version of a portfolio (either electronic or paper) which Batson defined as "simply an organized collection of completed work." I also think that definition is incomplete; I would add that there are some characteristics that differentiate a portfolio for just a collection of work. The Northwest Evaluation Association developed this definition for K-12 education:
A portfolio is a purposeful collection of student work that exhibits the student's efforts, progress, and achievements in one or more areas. The collection must include student participation in selecting contents, the criteria for selection; the criteria for judging merit, and evidence of student self-reflection.
One of my concerns is that the public dialogue on electronic portfolios today is from the perspective of higher education, and that the PK-12 community is not involved. Decisions about standards for electronic portfolio systems are being developed by and for higher education, which will have a huge impact on the PK-12 community, but they are not included in the discussion.

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