Electronic Teaching Portfolios: Multimedia Skills + Portfolio Development = Powerful Professional Development

Dr. Helen Barrett, School of Education
University of Alaska Anchorage, 3211 Providence Drive, Anchorage, Alaska 99508
Tel: 907-786-4423 Fax: 907-786-4444 E-mail: afhcb@uaa.alaska.edu

Copyright 2000. Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). 
Distributed via the Web by permission of AACE.

Abstract: Two bodies of literature define the process for developing electronic teaching portfolios to support long-term professional growth: the multimedia development process (Decide/Assess, Design/Plan, Develop, Implement, Evaluate) and the portfolio development process (Collection, Selection, Reflection, Projection/Direction, Presentation). As further defined, the Electronic Portfolio Development Process covers the following stages: Defining the Portfolio Context and Goals, the Working Portfolio, the Reflective Portfolio, the Connected Portfolio, and the Presentation Portfolio. In addition, there are at least five levels of technology for developing electronic portfolios, based on ease of use, including technologies that are appropriate at each level and stage. This combined process creates a foundation for powerful professional development.   The process of developing electronic teaching portfolios can document evidence of teacher competencies and guide long-term professional development. The competencies may be locally defined, or linked to national teaching standards. Two primary assumptions in this process are: 1.) a portfolio is not a haphazard collection of artifacts (i.e., a scrapbook) but rather a reflective tool which demonstrates growth over time; and 2.) 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.

Electronic portfolio development draws on two bodies of literature: multimedia development (decide, design, develop, evaluate) (Ivers & Barron, 1998) and portfolio development (collection, selection, reflection, projection) (Danielson & Abrutyn, 1997). Both processes are complimentary and essential for effective electronic portfolio development. Understanding how these two processes fit together, along with understanding the role of standards in electronic portfolio development, will provide teachers and students with a powerful tool for demonstrating growth over time which is the primary value of a portfolio.

For the last decade, students at the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) School of Education have developed exit portfolios, initially in the Adult Education Masters Program and most recently to earn an institutional recommendation for a teaching certificate under UAA's MAT in Secondary Education. An electronic portfolio based on the ISTE/NCATE Standards is now required to earn the new competency-based Educational Technology Endorsement for the state of Alaska. In addition, teachers have been developing electronic portfolios to demonstrate their achievement of the Alaska Teaching Standards, and their reflections show the power of the teaching portfolio to guide lomg-term professional development.

Benefits of Electronic Portfolio Development

Based on research into the implementation of electronic portfolios since 1991, the following benefits appear to result from developing electronic portfolios with teachers and students:

1. Creating an electronic portfolio can develop teachers' as well as students' multimedia technology skills. The multimedia development process usually covers the following stages (Ivers & Barron, 1998):

2. Modeling: If teachers develop electronic teaching portfolios, their students will be more likely to have their own electronic portfolios.

3. Each stage of the portfolio development process contributes to teachers' professional development and students' lifelong learning:

Robin Fogarty, Kay Burke, and Susan Belgrad (1994, 1996) have identified ten options for portfolio development, further defining the stages and increasing the quality of the portfolio process:
1. PROJECT purposes and uses
2. COLLECT and organize
3. SELECT valued artifacts
4. INTERJECT personality
5. REFLECT metacognitively
6. INSPECT and self-assess goals
7. PERFECT, evaluate, and grade (if you must)
8. CONNECT and conference
9. INJECT AND EJECT to update
10. RESPECT accomplishments and show pride

Figure 1: Portfolio Development Options

The Electronic Portfolio Development Process: Five Stages and Five Levels

From the discussion of both the Multimedia Development Process and the Portfolio Development Process, along with a discussion of the appropriate technology tools, five stages of Electronic Portfolio Development emerge. Here are the issues to address at each stage of this process.
Portfolio Development Stages of Electronic Portfolio Development Multimedia Development
Purpose & Audience 1. Defining the Portfolio Context & Goals Decide, Assess
Collect, Interject 2. The Working Portfolio Design, Plan
Select, Reflect, Direct 3. The Reflective Portfolio Develop
Inspect, Perfect, Connect 4. The Connected Portfolio Implement, Evaluate
Respect (Celebrate) 5. The Presentation Portfolio Present, Publish

Table 1: Stages of Electronic Portfolio Development

Differentiating the Levels of Electronic Portfolio Implementation

In addition to the stages of portfolio development, there appear to be at least five levels of electronic portfolio development. In reviewing the electronic portfolios that are produced, it is important to establish different expectation levels for development. Just as there are developmental levels in student learning, there are developmental levels in digital portfolio development. Below are different levels for digital multimedia development and electronic portfolio development, which are closely aligned with the technology skills of the student or teacher portfolio developer.
All documents are in paper format. Some portfolio data may be stored on video tape. All documents are in digital file formats, using word processing or other commonly-used software, and stored in electronic folders on a hard drive, floppy diskette or LAN server. Portfolio data is entered into a structured format, such as a database or HyperStudio template 
slide show (PowerPoint or AppleWorks) and stored on a hard drive, Zip, floppy diskette or LAN server.
Documents are translated into Portable Document Format with "hyper-links" between standards, artifacts, and reflections using Adobe Acrobat Exchange and stored on a hard drive, Zip, Jaz, 
CD-R/W, or LAN server.
Documents are translated into HTML, complete with "hyper-links" between standards, artifacts, and reflections, using a web authoring program and posted to a WWW server. Portfolio is organized with a multimedia authoring program, incorporating digital sound and video is converted to digital format and pressed to CD-R/W or posted to WWW in streaming format. 

Table 2: Levels of Digital Portfolio Software Strategies based on Ease of Use


Multimedia Development: Decide/Assess  Portfolio Development: Purpose & Audience
Tasks: Appropriate Technology Tools at this Stage:


Multimedia Development: Design/Plan  Portfolio Development: Collect. Interject
Tasks: Appropriate Technology Tools at this Stage:

Select software tools to organize selected artifacts:

Convert portfolio artifacts into digital format
Text Only
Add Images
Add Navigation (hypertext links)
Add digitized sound
Add digitized video

Table 3: Levels of Digital Multimedia Development


Multimedia Development: Develop  Portfolio Development: Select. Reflect, Direct
Tasks: Appropriate Technology Tools at this Stage:


Multimedia Development: Implement, Evaluate  Portfolio Development: Inspect, Perfect, Connect
Tasks: Appropriate Technology Tools at this Stage:


Multimedia Development: Present, Publish  Portfolio Development: Respect (Celebrate)
Tasks: Appropriate Technology Tools at this Stage:
Floppy Diskette

Hard Disk Drive

Zip Disk/Super Disk

Jaz Disk

LAN Server
WWW Server

Table 4: Levels of Digital Storage


The process of creating an electronic teaching portfolio should incorporate not only multimedia technology skills, but also the portfolio development process. Otherwise, we will continue to produce web pages or multimedia presentations masquerading as electronic portfolios; a portfolio without goals (or standards) and reflections is just a multimedia presentation, or a fancy electronic resume, or a digital scrapbook. By following the portfolio development process as defined above, including reflection, direction (goal-setting) and connection (dialogue with others about the portfolio), a teacher creates a foundation for powerful professional development.



Barrett, Helen (1999). "Using Technology to Support Alternative Assessment and Electronic Portfolios" [online: http://transition.alaska.edu/www/portfolios.html]

Burke, Kay; Fogarty, Robin; Belgrad, Susan (1994). The Mindful School: The Portfolio Connection. Palatine: IRI/Skylight Training & Publishing

Danielson, Charlotte; Abrutyn, Leslye (1997) An Introduction to Using Portfolios in the Classroom. Alexandria: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Fogarty, Robin (ed.) (1996) Student Portfolios: A Collection of Articles. Palatine: IRI/Skylight Training & Publishing

Ivers, Karen, and Barron, Ann E. (1998) Multimedia Projects in Education. Englewood, Co.: Libraries Unlimited, Inc.