Helen Barrett
University of Alaska Anchorage

As we move to more standards-based teacher performance assessment, we need new tools to record and organize evidence of successful teaching, for both practicing professionals and student teachers. This session will introduce a strategy for using Portable Document Format (Adobe Acrobat PDF) files to store and organize Electronic Teaching Portfolios.


This paper will briefly cover various strategies for authoring electronic portfolios and design for an electronic teaching portfolio, including goals/purpose of the portfolio, evaluation criteria, audience, content, context and multimedia materials to include in the portfolio. One strategy often overlooked in the development of electronic portfolios is the use of Adobe Acrobat 's Portable Document Format (PDF) to gather evidence from a variety of applications. There are other authoring software which allows the creation of hypertext links between goals, student work samples in multiple forms of media, rubrics, and assessment.

Process for Constructing Electronic Portfolios *

At the 1997 SITE Conference, Boulware, Bratina, Holt & Johnson described a process for developing Pre-Service Teacher Portfolio Process which was based on a portfolio development manual published by Campbell, Cignetti, Melenyzer, Nettles & Wyman (199?):

In an article that was published in the Proceedings of the National Educational Computing Conference (1997) and updated in the October, 1998, issue of Learning & Leading with Technology, I outlined a process for developing electronic portfolios in contrast to the process normally used to develop multimedia presentations:

Storing the Working Portfolio

There are many technologies that can be used to store digital portfolio artifacts during the development stages. Some of the most common include:

Publishing the Presentation (Formal) Portfolio

Many of those same strategies will be used to publish the formal or presentation portfolio, including CD-R, Video Tape, WWW, DVD-RAM . The choice depends on the audience.

Authoring Tools for Multimedia Portfolios

It is important to choose software tools that allow teachers and students to create hypermedia links between goals, outcomes and the various student artifacts (products and projects) displayed in multimedia format that demonstrate their achievement.

There are a number of generic types of software with examples shown of brand name products.

Commercial portfolio software packages:


Barrett, Helen (1997) "Collaborative Planning for Electronic Portfolios: Asking Strategic Questions" in Proceedings of the National Educational Computing Conference, Seattle, Washington.

Barrett, Helen (1998) "Strategic Questions" in Learning & Leading with Technology (October, 1998)

Boulware, Bratina, Holt & Johnson (1997) "Developing Professional Teaching Portfolios Using CD-ROM Technology as a Teaching-Learning Tool" SITE, 1997. http://www.unf.edu/~tbratina/cdrom.htm


Baron, Cynthia (1996). Creating a Digital Portfolio. Indianapolis: Hayden Books

Brown, Genevieve and Irby, Beverly (1997). The Principal Portfolio. Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press

Burke, Kay (1997). Designing Professional Portfolios for Change. Palatine, Illinois: IRI/SkyLight Training & Publishing

Burke, Kay (ed.) (1996). Professional Portfolios. Palatine, Illinois: IRI/SkyLight Training & Publishing

Campbell, Cignetti, Melenyzer, Nettles & Wyman (1997) How to Develop a Professional Portfolio: A Manual for Teachers. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Glatthorn, Allan (1996). The Teacher's Portfolio: Fostering and Documenting Professional Development. Rockport, MA: Pro>Active Publications.

Lyons, Nona (ed.) (1998).With Portfolio in Hand: validating the new teacher professionalism. New York: Teachers College Press.

Martin-Kniep, Giselle (1998). Why Am I Doing This? Purposeful Teaching through Portfolio Assessment. Portsmouth: Heinemann

McLaughlin, Maureen; Vogt, MaryEllen (1996). Portfolios in Teacher Education. Newark: International Reading Association.

McLaughlin, Vogt, Anderson, DuMez, Peter, Hunter (1998). Professional Portfolio Models:Reflections Across the Teaching Profession. Norwood, MA: Christopher-Gprdon Publishers.

Paris, Scott; Ayres, Linda R. (1994). Becoming Reflective Students and Teacheers with Portfolios and Authentic Assessment. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

Seldin, Peter (1997) The Teaching Portfolio. Bolton: Anker Publishing

Web References

  Relational data base Hypermedia "card" file (including templates) Multimedia authoring software WWW Pages Acrobat Reader

Integrated "Office" Software
Proprietary software
Common development tools FileMaker Pro HyperStudio
Digital Chisel
Macromedia Authorware, Director Adobe PageMill, Claris Home Page Adobe Acrobat Exchange 3.01 Microsoft Office, Works, AppleWorks Grady Profile
Persona Plus
Structure & Links Structured fields/records/ files linked together by common fields Electronic cards (screens) linked together by "buttons" Icon-based or time-based multimedia authoring environment WWW pages viewed with a Web Browser (Netscape or Explorer) using links created in HTML Postscript-based pages that can be navigated sequentially, or using bookmarks, links, or buttons Slide Shows (i.e.,PowerPoint) for presentation or "Binder" (Office) to link documents together

Varied: Grady Profile has Hypercard base

Personna Plus uses relational database engine

Player available Yes Yes Self-contained Browser (free) Reader (free)  No ?

Flexible reporting


Web accessible


Widely accessible in classrooms

Construction tools included

Some software cross-platform

Most flexibility in development







Create files from any application

Ideal for CD-R

Widely accessible software.


Pre-designed and structured

Size of files

Requires player

Not easily web-accessible (requires browser plug-in)

View limited to screen size

Steep learning curve

Multimedia (video) not well integrated

Complex authoring

Size of files

Limited construction tools

Not directly web-accessible

Ease of creating hypertext links.

Requires original application to read.

Grady: not Web-accessible, Mac only, inflexible


Ease of Use*

1=low skill
5-high skill

4 to develop
2 to use

3 to develop

2 with editor
4 without



2 (Grady)
? (Persona)

Technology Required

1=low tech
5=high tech






 3 - 4

(with Ed. discounts)







Grady $199

Persona ?

Figure 1
Comparison of Portfolio Construction Tools





Limited experience with desktop computer - able to use mouse, menus, run simple programs Level 1 PLUS proficiency with a word processor, basic e-mail and Internet browsing; enter data into a pre-designed database Level 2 PLUS able to build a simple hypertext (non-linear) document with hypertext links (using either a hypermedia program like HyperStudio, Adobe Acrobat Exchange, or an HTML WYSIWYG editor) Level 3 PLUS able to record sounds, scan images, output computer screens to a VCR; design an original database Level 4 PLUS multimedia programming or HTML authoring; create QuickTime movies live or from tape; program a relational database

Figure 2
Level of Teacher Skill (Relative Ease of Use)





No computer A single computer with 8 MB RAM, 80 MB HD, no AV input/output One or two computers with 16 MB RAM, 250+ MB HD, simple AV input (like QuickCam) Three or four computers, one of which has 32+ MB RAM, 500+ MB HD, AV input and output, scanner, VCR, video camera, high-density storage device (such as Zip drive)

Level 4 PLUS CD-Recorder, at least two computers with 48+ MB RAM

Optional: video editing hardware and software

Figure 3
Level of Technology Required

Copyright © 1998, Helen C. Barrett; All Rights Reserved