ePortfolios – An Authentic Student Voice Heard From Within The Knowledge Jungle ?

It’s  a Jungle out there – a Knowledge Jungle

Are ePortfolios the answer? Is it possible they could be the vehicle to enable an authentic student voice to heard from within the Knowledge Jungle


ePortfolios – How Can We use Them to Promote Powerful Pedagogical Practice _ A SWAT Analysis

The purpose of this reflective blog is to consider what I have learnt about the value of ePortfolios using a SWAT analysis to explore the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for P-12 Students.

The image below is one I made from this article in Wordle to demonstrate the key concepts – in case you don’t want to read on and just want to head for the summary. Sadly, my name is the least noticed word in the Wordle but you can see that Barrett is a prominent researcher – and one I will follow carefully!

Screen Shot 2014-01-11 at 3.19.55 PM

An ePortfolio is a selective and structured collection of information gathered for specific purposes and evidencing growth and accomplishments over time.

Portfolios over time have been used to collect information for a specific purpose. Artists use them to demonstrate their art, financial portfolios can be use to demonstrate wealth and an educational folio can demonstrate a students learning and achievements.

What are the strengths and opportunities afforded by ePortfolios?

Digital portfolios offer the chance to capture so much more about the learner and the learning journey. Helen Barrett has been researching the benefits of ePortfolios, published numerous articles in the past ten years and maintains a website dedicated to ePortfolios found at http://www.electronicportfolios.org. ‘Portfolios support reflection that can help students understand their own learning and provide a richer picture of student work to document growth over time.’

ePortfolios provide greater opportunities to capture the learning process because they combine the value of portfolios to collect, select, reflect and project with the value of multimedia to decide, design, develop and evaluate. . The flexibility of eportfolios enables artefacts to be created, reflected upon and modified to reflect new  learning. The structure is fluid, does not need to be hierarchical, enables a more creative and non-linear presentation,and can be changed to reflect the personality of the owner. Students can present learning and reflections over time and can be continually evaluating their artefacts. .

‘Evidence in an electronic portfolio is not only measured by the artefacts that a learner places there, but also the accompanying rationale that the learner provides- their argument as to why these artefacts constitute evidence of achieving specific goals, outcomes and standards.’

If the curriculum incorporates ePortfolios in carefully considered, purposeful and structured ways the students become more connected with their learning.  If Web 2.0 tools are encouraged to become part of the ePortfolio then there are opportunities for student- directed learning, learner choice,collaborative activities, knowledge sharing, peer reviews, critical reflection and debate.

Being able to hyperlink between artefacts and reflections enables the students to connect more deeply with the learning and develop metacognition.  This will require a new set of considerations in encouraging strategies in our students such as self-regulation, initiative and direction without teacher supervision

‘A good self-regulator will pay attention to tasks, persist when it becomes difficult, demonstrate flexibility, and be confident that more effort will lead to positive outcomes.’ As educators move towards using digital media to teach, and we rely more on children’s independent initiative and motivation, it’s important to develop kids’ learning strategies so they stay on topic while they use these tools.’

What are the weaknesses and threats that must be considered?

If the digital portfolio is not permanently accessible and enduring the students will not value their efforts engage in a meaningful way and it will be like the student workbooks that fill the school bins on the last day of school – all that learning just thrown away!

Teachers who have not had any authentic experiences with creating their own  digital ePortfolios may not appreciate the learning opportunities, the potential for reflection and growth and be reticent to plan for and encourage student use.  They may view the ePortfolio as an add on to their courses rather than considering rewriting the course structure to accommodate new learning opportunities and may attempt to adapt the  ePortfolio to fit their current practices.

The careful intent to plan and scaffold of tasks, the guided intervention to develop effective reflective skills and quality and timeliness of quality feedback by the teacher will require further exploration and skills in their professional development.


There are multiple purposes for an ePortfolio that need to be considered further. Firstly, it needs to be a digital archive of the student’s work that documents attainment of standards, it needs to be a quality showcase of samples that reflect the student’s best works but most importantly it need to foster students telling their own digital stories that evidence their personal learning journey over time.

It is important that the true ownership stays with the student for it is only when it is their story, powerfully told by them that the intrinsic worth, the  critical reflective value and the optimized learning potential of an ePortfolio to will be realized.


Barrett, H. C. (2007). Researching electronic portfolios and learner engagement: The REFLECT initiative. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy50(6), 436-449.

Barrett, H.C 2013 Is The Future Of ePortfolio Development In Your Pocket

http://maclearning.org/articles/7/is-the-future-of-e-portfolio-development-in-your-pocketegulate/ Accessed  11 Jan 2014

Challis, D. (2005). Towards the mature ePortfolio: Some implications for higher education. Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology/La revue canadienne de l’apprentissage et de la technologie31(3).

Pelliccione, L., Pocknee, C., & Mulvany, J. (2009). The Use of Social Interaction Technologies in E-Portfolios. Handbook of research on social interaction technologies and collaboration software: concepts and trends, 233.

Uhls, Y.  (2012).  As Digital Tools Abound Help Kids To Self Regulate 


Accessed  11 Jan 2014


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