E-portfolio is an electronic portfolio made of a collection of digital materials (files, graphics, photos, curriculum vitae, multimedia etc.) demonstrating achievements, experiences and evidence of learning by students or professionals. In higher education, E-portfolio is increasingly becoming an important assessment tool that provides great opportunities to students to show-case their progress in their studies by recording their learning experiences and work history. Students can develop quickly and easily their E-portfolios by capturing live evidence through the use of mobile phones, scanning their existing portfolios and publish them into their space in the institutional E-portfolio system for the purposes of learning, assessment, and making transitions, particularly to employment.
Why use E-portfolio in Higher Education?
Electronic Portfolios are used as a personal learning environment that facilitates the construction of a framework to organise a student learning and work experience, achievements as well as a range of life-based learning events for long life learning.
Electronic portfolios are valuable materials when teaching or learning in face-to-face or online environment. In online environment, they provide the tutor with evidence of a spectrum of skills and achievements for students registered in their e-courses. For face-to-face or blended mode of delivery, E-portfolio system can help students to keep their work in a centralised storage system that can allow them to retrieve and edit their piece of work anytime and from anywhere. E-portfolios provide to students mechanisms to keep track of their progression in their courses and the evidence is kept in a centralised and structured manner. Students have full control to share their E-portfolios with other people of their choice.
The instructional Technology Unit at the Polytechnic of Namibia (PON) deployed an E-portfolio system that is embedded into the piloted virtual learning environment Moodle and it supports a range of learning activities such as:
- Collecting and storing textual materials that can be combined with audio and/or visual resources for evidence purposes and for learning.
- Facilitate collaboration with others.
- Communicating personal learning goals, objectives and personal identities to a range of audiences.
- Encouraging and motivating students to produce quality work so that others can view for sharing purposes.
- Develop and enhance students writing skills.
- Facilitating active learning where students can set their own goals.
- Encouraging and build a culture of feedback for student own work or work done by others.
- Keep in a centralised place all evidence-based resources produced by the students from day one at PON until the exit. Students can access those resources any time and from anywhere to reflect on particular items or on a collection of evidence created over time.
The E-portfolio system integrated in Moodle has the following features:
- Provision of achievement’s evidence
- Students’ details, goals and or expectations
- Taking notes of daily learning activities and progress
- Provision of peer evaluations on individual work
- Provision of journal entries for students to demonstrate their attainment, engagement, interactions and reflection with the learning
- Facilitate feedback from lecturers, tutor or trainers
Using the E-portfolio system integrated in Moodle, students can edit or upload their content, structure their content in folders/labels or tags, retrieve and edit any time their content and files. They can also display their content privately by invitation or publicly through dedicated web pages through hyperlinks.
Integrate E-portfolios as Teaching and Learning Activities
When designing E-portfolios assessment for teaching, learning and Assessment, we need to consider the following important factors:
- Are your students capable to use technology (ICT basic skills) to develop and upload materials for a portfolio?
- Is there any provision in the curriculum requesting or suggesting students to use portfolio in completing their projects and assignments?
- Is there a system to upload student works and organise it in e-portfolio structure? Is the software offering monitoring mechanisms for lecturers and tutors involved in the assessment of E-portfolios?
- Are guidelines available to support students to produce (provide clear information about the kind of work that can be included in portfolios) and organise their e-portfolio?
- Is there a system in place to encourage and support students to lead the growth of their E-portfolios?
- Are there rubrics or criteria that help students to understand how their work will be assessed?
The factors mentioned above are essential to expect a successful implementation of E-portfolio in an institution of higher learning such as PON.
How can E-portfolio be used as an assessment tool?
Lecturers and Tutors can use E-portfolio as an assessment tool in their courses. The assessment can be in the form of:
- Reflection on a concept related to the course
- Feedback of individual or group work
- Display final product of a project in the form of digital artifact or snapshot
- Display contributes in online synchronous and asynchronous discussions and collaboration as specified by the lecturer or tutor.
How can students access the E-portfolio system at PON?
For the new Moodle implementation, the design of the integration of the E-portfolio is Single Sign ON (SSO) approach. The integrated E-portfolio system is external software to Moodle; howerver once a student logs in the virtual learning environment, they will be able to access the E-portfolio system without manually providing their credentials. The SSO feature installed on Moodle will automatically register a student in the E-portfolio database. In Moodle E-learning platform, a link to open the E-portfolio platform is provided to students.
Only lecturers will be able to provide the access to E-portfolio through their courses. This is to avoid any disruption or distraction during online activities other than E-portfolio.
E-portfolio can be a valuable tool for students to exhibit their talents and this can be very beneficial when looking for employment for example. The system in implementation at Polytechnic of Namibia has features to display CVs/resume; notes taking to reflect the learning processes; write articles through journal entries. The system also has a social networking capabilities that can enable the institution to create a community of learning (COL) or community of practice (COP) and keep students connected with one other for learning purposes; especially distant students . In the next article, we will discuss possible impact of social networking in teaching and learning.