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ePortfolios Galore!

“Challenging the Boundaries of ePortfolio Scholarship” is the introduction to The Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy. Throughout the essay, the authors highlight the pieces that make up the 10th issue of the journal and brief synopses of their findings: “They confront, reconceive, and subvert technological, institutional, or pedagogical boundaries to design ePortfolios that feel organic to their unique teaching and learning situations.” The purpose of these studies are to evaluate ePortfolios and the ways that it can help to enhance learning. “Composing in a digital space changes the rhetorical situation, whether that be for students creating ePortfolios or authors publishing in an online, open access journal.”

When signing up for provocations, I chose ePortfolios since I was interested in learning more about them for my practice as a pedagogue. As I went through some of the articles, I realized how many ways ePortfolios can happen that help to enhance the meaning of learning. In “I Lit: An E-Poetry, E-Portfolio Exhibit,” the authors showcase drafts of poetry that is also followed in its final visual artistic representation. Obviously, there are drafts of any piece of writing, but I never thought of publically publishing those different versions for the world to see. Personally, I never conceived of writing poetry in this way even though I have my students work on essay drafts in my high school English courses.

The line that I feel best resonates the purpose of ePortfolios is found in “More Than Assessment: What ePortfolios Make Possible for Students, Faculty, and Curricula”:  “ePortfolios can offer students the opportunity to make connections across their experiences, synthesize their learning, and articulate the meaning and significance of their experiences and learning first to themselves—which is no small feat and should not be undervalued—and then, potentially (but not inevitably), to external audiences.” To me, synthesizing learning and collecting with the larger internet audience should be the goal of ePortfolios if we are to use them in education. We should always be asking ourselves what the broader questions are and why we are using this. However, it seems impossible to make one streamlined ePortfolio that works for everyone.

Apparently, “as of 2013, 50% of colleges and universities across the country have already adopted an ePortfolio platform,” so I question if there is a universal software that can be made that is a “one size fits all” across education institutions/environments. And if so, how would that work? If not, then how do we ensure that ePortfolios are used mindfully and purposely in instruction?

These articles also reminded me of Randy Bass, where he prophetically urges that educators should use technology mindfully in their practice. The ePortfolios mentioned in these articles seem to be that way, but it’s unclear to me how much thought and planning were put into doing this ePortfolios before their publication. Are tackling ePortfolios taking a leap of faith for educational institutions? Do teachers need to have a tech “competency” to ask students of this? And furthermore, are ePortfolios realistic in urban environments where there are inequities that exist with access to technologies? Now, with internet neutrality repealed, what does that mean for equitable access to educational material, or material that is crafted to be educational like ePortfolios?

 

Side note: What I also particularly loved was the hypothes.is resource highlighted in one section of the piece, which was used as a way for the authors to reconsider how to publish material surrounding ePorfolios. Even though it wasn’t a pivotal point of the paper, for some reason, this struck me. I looked them up, and it turns out that they are a non-profit organization that made a free platform for collaborative annotations. In other words, imagine Wikipedia and Facebook had a baby, and this baby was a super collaborator annotating pro! As soon as I finished reading the article, I downloaded the add-on to my Google Chrome browser and started playing around. Obviously, the about section was indeed annotated with people testing out the software for the first time, but things started to get interesting as I went around to various websites with it. As you bounce around from website to website, you can tell how many people annotated that page already. Anyway, this was a cool annotating resource I learned about, and I can see how it made the publishers lives easier in prioritizing materials.

Introduction

3 thoughts on “ePortfolios Galore!

  1. Hi Christina, fun title! Thanks for this provocation, I like the way you raise the questions of ” if there is a universal software that can be made that is a ‘one size fits all’ across education institutions/environments. And if so, how would that work?” I would add to this, can/should an eportfolio also be “evergreen” and reside online in perpetuity? I ask this because in my experience, I’ve had to create many eportfolios on varying platforms only to watch them disappear when the course, degree, or digital project was completed. In my case, I always maintained my work and transferred it to a new online home, but it’s just not the same because it gets stripped of its context. So I do think the pedagogy needs the type of examination and forethought in employing them that you bring up.

  2. As Carolyn also pointed out, I’m also curious about your question on “one size fits all” software of ePortfolio. Before talking about the practicality/possibility of making the software, I want to ask about “the need” for the universal one. In one of the journal article “Learning and Reflecting with ISUComm ePortfolios,” the authors quote Anne Wysocki and Michael Day’s statement: “as educators, technorhetoricians can and should respond to or resist large-scale, commercial community-building by forming and maintaining smaller-scale intentional communities of practice that fit with local contexts of value and belief.” By reading through some of the articles and listening to the interview, what struck me the most was the various forms and uses of ePortfolio (the multiple definitions of ePortfolio) in a different institutional and local contexts. Do you think ePortfolio software can make this type of resistance/response more effective or not?

    From an educator’s perspective, I think your questions on teacher’s “tech competency” and technological inequalities are very relevant. How can we think about ePortfolio pedagogy in the context of CUNY (especially regarding first-genration students)? Is the pedagogy more oriented toward the community college context? You wrote that you wanted to try ePortfolio pedagogy- after reading the texts from this week, do you have specific plans or ideas on how to start this?

  3. Hi Christina, you made some great points. Mainly your reference to universal software and a “one size fits all,” theory. I believe that a software that covers the general needs of pedagogy would be great. But this software would need to be flexible, in regard to providing several ways of connecting with the individual needs of faculty and students. I believe that an ePortfolio digital platform that serves as an interactive space, could possible prove to be useful for students looking for extra help or additional understanding on a topic that may have recently been covered in a session.

    I also agree that Randy Bass would embrace this type of software as a way to build and cultivate growth for faculty to student interaction. Bass envisioned a digital world that would definitely be open to ePortfolio pedagogy. I believe that content and approach would prove to be major factors in creating scholarly connections in academia. Ultimately, it’s important to ask ourselves the right questions, before implementing new systems.

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