Session 4:
Planning and implementing an e-portfolio (0.4)


This session is designed for participants to try out Mahara, to get an overview about e-portfolio software and start thinking about planning and implementing ePortfolio in their own institution.



Having completed this session, you will be able to:

  • understand the reasons for ePortfolio development within the context (individual, group and institution)
  • understand complex dependencies between the elements of ePortfolio implementation process at individual, group and institutional level
  • create a strategic plan for ePortfolio system within the institution
  • plan implementation of ePortfolio at individual, group and institutional level

In terms of tools exploitation you will be able to:

  • explore examples of ePortfolio tools
  • use an ePortfolio system solution exampled by Mahara


Prerequisite Knowledge

  • basic knowledge e-portfolio
  • an identified target group or setting (institution)

An overview of the tools

Lorenzo and Ittelson distinguish between the following four approaches to develop ePortfolio systems within institution (read more in Lorenzo and Ittelson Educause )

  • "Do it yourself": customised and internally developed system
  • Open Source systems publicly availiable at no charge
  • Commercial tools purchased from a vendor, with licensing and support fees
  • Common tools, not designed specifically for ePortoflios but supporting more creativity (html editors)

G. Siemens analysed the following stages of eportfolio development organizationally (see G.Siemens Electronic portfolios - what are they? )

  • Level 1 may include simple websites and incorporate blogs or wikis. Limited navigation of content is included.
  • Level 2 consists of dynamic web pages. Navigation and search features are available. Portfolio owners can also create different sections of the site to allow access for different reasons.
  • Level 3 requires institutional support of eportfolios, including instruction on actual use. The institution may also host the software to allow learners to build their portfolios.
  • Level 4 requires the institution integrates portfolio use and development into the process of instruction and assessment.
  • Level 5 requires the institution adheres to standards, permits interoperability of the portfolio with other institutions.

Examples for E-Portfolio Tools

There is a wide range of tools which can be used for creating one’s ePortfolio. You can e.g see different examples of personal ePortfolio created by Helen Barrett ( 1 ) who created her ePortfolio with a variety of software, from spreadsheets to commercial system. You can also have a look at dedicated ePortfolio systems there Elgg ( 2 ) and Mahara ( 3 )

Moodle with a module for portfolio

The German ministry of education made an application for an additional module for the moodle-platform “EXABIS”, which provides every learner with an individual portfolio block. This block is independent from the courses and enables learners to reflect their steps of learning, record individual documents of their history of learning and to categorize them as well as the communication between the teachers.

Web Resources

Moodle - Exabis Modul:

ELGG with presentation module

The ELGG software – Learning Landscapes has established itself in the open source and social software community as a tool for social networking. The focus of this software is on “social tagging”, “community building” and “reflection”. The presentation module enables now a community-oriented e-portfolio system. (see Mandy Schiefner's Weblog )

Web Resources

ELGG - Learning Landscapes:

Mahara E-Portfolio

“ Established in 2006, Mahara is the result of a collaborative venture funded by New Zealand's Tertiary Education Commission's e-learning Collaborative Development Fund (eCDF) … Mahara is a fully featured open source electronic portfolio, weblog, resume builder and social networking system, connecting users and creating online communities. Mahara is designed to provide users with the tools to demonstrate their life-long learning, skills and development over time to selected audiences.“ (see Mahara Homepage )

Web Resources

Mahara E-Portfolio:

KEEP-Toolkit (Knowledge Exchange Exhibition and Presentation Toolkit)

The KEEP-toolkit is based on the belief, that “snapshots”, that means objects of information can be collected in a structured way and can be extracted in different relations as presentation. The Toolkit is working essentially with “templates”, which provides the user with guiding questions referring to every kind of summary, individual goals, individual reflection, external references and the data itself.

Web Resources


Just try it out!


Set up your own e-portfolio! Complete the following three tasks with Mahara, e.g. with the help of our video tutorials:

  • Set up your own account
  • Create a personal profile page
  • Write a blog entry summing up in few sentences what you have gained from this workshop

Look at your Profile and revise it, if necessary.

Selection criteria

There is a bunch of literature which can help you make a choice of a tool, e.g. in our MOSEP study. Also, there are also on-line tools availiable to examine the features of a selected tools Edu tools. There are several issues which must be considered when institution or an individual wants to select an appropriate tool (see Ali Jafari Educause Review ).

  • Standards: As portability is a key issue of ePortfolios learners must be able to transport their ePortfolios from one institution to another.
  • Ease of use: Software must offer simple and attractive interface so that only short training is required for both learners and teachers. It is especially important when dealing with young learners who have high expectation for user-friendly software. The solution must also enable simple file and artefacts transfer. It is very unlikely that users support a confusing and inconsistent application.
  • Sustainability: Is also worth considering, especially with the view to further development of ePortfolio systems. A tool selected must be reliable and robust.
  • Interoperability: It must also interoperate with existing learning management tools already used within and institution. If there is a variety of technological solutions developed by different vendors it must be assured that the data integration is possible. See also Interoperability use cases


Design the perfect ePortfolio tool in a group work for your organizational purposes! This task is to come up with an idea of what functionalities should a good ePortfolio tool have. Imagine that you are trying to implement an ePortfolio in your practice but you do not have any software which seems appropriate. If you were to design one, what functionalities would you want it to have? What would be necessary in order to fulfill the goals and functions you were discussing during earlier sessions and activities? Remember that ePortfolio does not have to be (and even cannot) created with one single tool so that you can use combination of the several. Write down your impressions (blog entry). Now go back to Mahara system.

Which of the functionalities you marked necessary are availiable here? Which features Mahara lacks? Have you found anything that you had not written down bu what seems interesting to you? Update your blog entry. Discuss with group.

ePortfolio Strategies - macrodidactical considerations

When you consider implementing Portfolio within your institution you will have to make decisions on several levels. From administrative to strategic, from personal to technical, as with any innovation ePortfolio implementation requires consideration of different aspects. It is very important to see ePortfolio as a part of a broader landscape : in the local/ regional/national context, in the life-long learning perspective, tightly linked with a vocational education and labour market. There are also some particular issues which needs consideration:

* ePortfolio and teaching methods, strategies and goals in your institution,
* availiable resources, both human and material (in terms of skills and numbers)
* strategic development plan of your institution

* interoperability and integration with other software systems (CMSs, databases and the like)
* servers performance and data back-ups
* technologies which support portable portfolio

* system which is suitable for a growing number of users
* staff to support and maintain the system and the users
* infrastructure to train users and administrators
* maintanance over time

* securing personal data
* storing and securing assesments

* authentication of work
* owner of the artifacts and records (author, institution, both)
* what can be included in ePortfolio

Based on Lorenzo and Ittelson Educause

As ePortfolios has been already introduced all around schools, especially in USA, Canada and some European countries as well, you may also want to have a look at Case Studies Overview or to explore different case studies into more details Case Studies


Now we would like you to reflect on the possibilities of introducing ePortfolio on an individual level: Make a SWOT analysis of implementing ePortfolio on your individual level SWOT .

Things to consider:

  • Which stage of the ePortfolio development are you?
  • Why would you need ePortfolio?
  • Would ePortfolio be a part of your personal development?
  • What resources (personal, financial, technical)do you already have and what investment is feasible?
  • What skills/competencies do you have? What further training may you need? What support will you have?
  • What is your motivation to use ePortfolio?



You have already considered your target group and how you want to use ePortfolio in your everyday practice. Now we would like you to reflect on the possibilities of introducing ePortfolio on an institutional level: Make a SWOT analysis of implementing ePortfolio in your school.
Things to consider

  • Which stage of the ePortfolio and IT development is your school at?
  • Why would you institution introduce ePortfolio?
  • Would ePortfolio be a part of a curriculum?
  • What resources (human, financial, technical) have your school got already and what investment is feasible?
  • What skills/competencies do the teachers have? What further training may be needed? What support will you have?
  • What is the motivation of learners and teachers to use ePortfolio?

Write a blog entry on the most important things to keep in mind when introducing ePortfolio.


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MOSEP Project -
The project is managed by the Salzburg Research Forschungsgesellschaft , if you have any questions or contributions, please contact the project co-ordinator Wolf Hilzensauer