Professional Development for Implementing Electronic Portfolios

Adoption of Innovations
Competencies (Portfolio and Technology Skills)
Resources for Professional Development
Recommended Professional Development and Readings
FREE Online Professional Development (Live)

©2004, 2005, Helen C. Barrett, Ph.D.

How do you plan professional development for the implementation of electronic portfolios in schools? There are several dimensions of this process, based on both the pedagogical purpose for developing the portfolios, the technological tools chosen to construct and store them, and the dispositions or attitudes toward change of the teachers or faculty.

It should be recognized that electronic portfolios cannot be created in isolation from other technology integration across the curriculum. For electronic portfolios to be successful, there need to be opportunities for learners to develop digital artifacts that are the building blocks of their electronic portfolios. Without technology implemented across the curriculum, publishing portfolios in an electronic format will be difficult to accomplish, From another perspective, effective implementation of electronic portfolios is an indicator of effective implementation of technology across the curriculum, as well as an indicator of an effective portfolio culture within the college, school or district.

Here is a resource, An Integrated Technology Adoption and Diffusion Model, that can help with the adoption of technology across the curriculum. This article provides some excellent suggestions for effective professional development strategies at each developmental stage of the adoption process. This online book, produced at the University of North Texas, provides a variety of research-based instruments for Assessing Educator Progress in Technology Integration.

Google Evaluation Reference > Education > Instructional Technology > Evaluation provides a comprehensive set of resources on evaluation implementation of instructional technology, K-20.


Start Small and Build Capacity

If a decision still needs to be made about the specific tools to be used for electronic portfolio implementation, a small initial project using the best two or three alternative strategies should be conducted. The teachers who are participating in the start-up program could then become a group of trainers who could provide professional development to the rest of the teachers in a college, school or district. The first group of teachers could also be a steering team, to help plan the long term implementation. A minimum of a semester is recommended for the initial project, if not a full academic year.

Preparation for Program-Wide Implementation

If the intention is to implement a program college-wide, school-wide, or district-wide, here are some recommendations for implementing this change:

Assess Readiness for this Innovation

How can you assess how well your teachers/faculty will adapt to this innovation? One strategy is using a Concerns-Based Adoption Model (C-BAM) readiness survey. For the best results, construct staff development based on the readiness of the individual teachers/faculty. The C-BAM covers creating differentiated professional development based on the expressed faculty needs at these levels:

Stages of Concern

  1. Awareness/Information concerns (they don't know anything about e-portfolios and they need lots of information and a vision)
  2. Personal concerns (they know about e-portfolios but have no experience with them, either personally or with their students)
  3. Management concerns (they have some personal experience with e-portfolios but aren't sure how to manage a classroom full of students developing them)
  4. Consequence concerns (their students are started developing e-portfolios and they want to do the best job of using the portfolios for improving student learning
  5. Collaboration concerns (their students are well along in the process, and they want to collaborate with other colleagues about using e-portfolios
  6. Refocusing concerns (they see real evidence of student achievement, and they want to do something better)

    Here is a one-page Stages of Concern Instrument, to determine where a teacher's concerns fall across this continuum.

Levels of Use

There are also levels of use of e-portfolios, also based on the C-BAM model, and professional development should be differentiated, depending on how far along the teacher/faculty is with implementing e-portfolios:

Here is a one-page Levels of Use Questionnaire

Resources on Concerns-Based Adoption Model

Innovator Types

Understand also that people have different attitudes toward change. Some teachers will embrace innovation with enthusiasm. Others will drag their feet. Their attitude toward change will also determine the type of staff development that works best. It should also be noted that a teacher will approach different innovations with a different approach ...change is contextual. The following are Adopter Types described by Carl Rogers:

Resources on Diffusion of Innovation


Assess Competencies

Here are some of the competencies needed to develop electronic portfolios:

Recommended Professional Development Content and Recommended Readings

Topic Books (with links to Weblinks

Professional Learning Communities


21st Century Learning


Assessment FOR Learning


Electronic Learning Portfolios


Student Engagement


Project-Based Learning


Technology Integration


Reflection for Deep Learning


Digital Storytelling


Dr. Barrett provides a variety of training opportunities for electronic portfolio implementation:

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©2004, Helen C. Barrett, Ph.D.
Revised April 22, 2007