3 September 2013

ePortfolio: what tools, what functionalities?

I have recently come across two amazing examples of professional ePortfolios:

- @traintheteacher is a regular and prolific blogger whose reflections are tagged, using the Registered Teacher Criteria, collected and selected for the purpose of her PRT ePortfolio using Wordpress (a powerful blogging platform)

- Don Presant's career ePortfolio presents selected personal information, his CV as well as the services he offers, alongside much evidence of his research and presentations, using Mahara(a purpose built ePortfolio system).

A range of online services can be used and combined and together make an ePortfolio for their owner who want to showcase and flesh out their achievements, skills, and competences beyond the wording on their CV.

Typically the blog (like this one!) is a place of where one goes to put down ideas, or accounts of experience, or reflect on what they have done, where they are now and what they can do next. 
What else is there?
Vizify can be used as a visually pleasing aggregator of the stuff one produces in a range of spaces, for a range of interests (eportfolio for life wide learning!)
About.me can be used as a cover page to your ePortfolio.
Belonging to groups (on Facebook for instance), nings , listserves,  having a twitter account,  etc is a way to bring in the social component to one's learning, where you get some and you give some and where ideas can be tested out.

Using online services like those imply that the user has embedded a level of comfort with publishing online for a purpose that is usually self determined, or for personal branding.

Developing an ePortfolio, and the mindset to go with it, is the result of a range of factors: it is undoubtedly beyond the "tick the box" requirement that any professional body or employer may require. ePortfolios are a place where one can let things stew and develop, as work in progress. They also allow the owner to showcase their stuff when/where/to whom it is necessary or timely. One does not become a reflective practitioner the minute they create an account on MyPortfolio nor do they always keep organised, meaningful traces of their learning with Instagram or SoundCloud. Nor necessarily act on the feedback left on way of comments... That is why I am talking about adopting a ePortfolio mindset! And having a self chosen purpose to get started.

Developing an awareness that any of these tools actually support learning by making it visible to the owner while at the same time making the owner visible to a chosen audience or to the world at large is well worth investigating. ePortfolios have the potential to accompany the development of a range of digital competencies as well as being a space to display them.

I have also recently stumbled upon netice.fr a French start up focused on providing ePortfolio services as well as a Mahara instance, for employability with an emphasis on insertion in the world of work (post formal education or after unemployement)  supported by the development of digital competencies. Netice.fr has caught my attention, in particular as it seems to be what I would like to be part of here in NZ!

So that finally takes me to the point of this entry, phew! Why a dedicated ePortfolio space like Mahara for instance rather than a suite of etools that the owner bundles together? After reading the report of ePortfolio use at Plymouth State University to which Ellen Mary Murphy contributed (and which link is no longer available), here is what I came up with to start visualising what functionalities support ePortfolio development, when they accompany the development of digital competencies and require an element of privacy and control over what is published. Work in progress...

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