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An electronic portfolio (also known as an eportfolio, e-portfolio, digital portfolio, or online portfolio) is a collection of electronic evidence assembled and managed by a user, usually on the Web. Such electronic evidence may include inputted text, electronic files, images, multimedia, blog entries, and hyperlinks. E-portfolios are both demonstrations of the user's abilities and platforms for self-expression, and, if they are online, they can be maintained dynamically over time.
An e-portfolio can be seen as a type of learning record that provides actual evidence of achievement. Learning records are closely related to the Learning Plan, an emerging tool that is being used to manage learning by individuals, teams, communities of interest, and organizations. To the extent that a Personal Learning Environment captures and displays a learning record, it also might be understood to be an electronic portfolio.
E-portfolios, like traditional portfolios, can facilitate students' reflection on their own learning, leading to more awareness of learning strategies and needs. Results of a comparative research, by M. van Wesel and Prop, between paper-based portfolios and electronic portfolios in the same setting, suggest use of an electronic portfolio leads to better learning outcomes.
There are three main types of e-portfolios, although they may be referred to using different terms:
A developmental e-portfolio can show the advancement of skill over a period of time rubrics. The main purpose is to provide an avenue for communication between student and instructor. An assessment portfolio will demonstrate skill and competence in a particular domain or area. A showcase portfolio highlights stellar work in a specific area, it is typically shown to potential employers to gain employment. When it is used for job application it is sometimes called career portfolio. Most e-portfolios are a mix of the three main types to create a hybrid portfolio.
Today, electronic portfolios are gaining popularity in:
In education the electronic portfolio is a collection of a students’ work that can advance learning by providing a way for them to organize, archive, and display work. The electronic format allows an instructor to evaluate student portfolios via the Internet, CD-ROM, DVD, or zip disk. Electronic portfolios have become a popular alternative to paper-based portfolios because they provide the opportunity to review, communicate and give feedback in an asynchronous manner. In addition, students are able to reflect on their work, which makes the experience of creating the e-portfolio meaningful. A student e-portfolio may be shared with a prospective employer or used to record the achievement of program or course specific learning outcomes.
The uses of e-portfolios are most common in the courses with departments of education. Most preservice teachers are asked to compile an e-portfolio to demonstrate competencies needed to gain teaching certification or licensure. Student e-portfolios are increasingly being used in other disciplines such as communications, math, business, nursing, engineering and architecture. In education e-portfolios have six major functions:
In general e-portfolios promote critical thinking and support the development of technology literacy skills. Faculty now use e-portfolios to record course or discipline designs that may be shared with colleagues to promote teaching and learning. A teaching e-portfolio is used to showcase career accomplishments.
Best practices have been developed to guide e-portfolio use in college classrooms. Faculty is encouraged to use e-portfolios to foster collaborative learning environment where more competent students can provide feedback to peers. When students are given the opportunity to guide others it facilitates peer –to-peer learning and deeper understanding of the lesson. Next generation education e-portfolios like Digication can assist students to archive information that is specific to each lesson in a course. Using e-portfolios in this way promotes data and knowledge curation and assists students in conducting research in an organized and discriminating way.[full citation needed]
E-portfolios also help to foster an independent and autonomous way of thinking, according to Strivens. This is in large part because people must focus on their collective work, think about how it will be portrayed, and what the work says about them as an individual. The individual is then in charge of their learning and the choice of where to demonstrate their proficiency. People are also forced to reflect on what they have learned and how they plan to build and improve in the future. This helps people to become better critical thinkers and helps them to develop their writing and multimedia skills. Today, many students are using multimedia such as Facebook, Twitter, and texting—all informal settings. The electronic portfolio, on the other hand, is a more formal setting where students must apply both their knowledge of how the web works and the message they want to convey. In this sense, students' use and comfort with the web at times can he a hindrance if they are not taught to use electronic portfolios in the correct fashion, suggests Lane. Many universities and schools are currently working to make sure that students are gaining practice and experience with electronic portfolios so that they are able to use them to the best of their ability. For example, in places like Michigan students can earn the MCOATT (Michigan Certificate of Outstanding Achievement in Teaching Technology) for submitting an electronic portfolio which demonstrates evidence of technology being used in the classroom. This consortium is an organization aimed to make Michigan one of the leaders in integrating technology into the training of young professionals.
Some e-portfolio applications permit varying degrees of audience access, so the same portfolio might be used for multiple purposes. According to Anderson, e-portfolios can then go viral and be passed on to be easily viewed by many on the web.[full citation needed]
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