Saturday, August 15, 2009


An e-portfolio is similar to a traditional portfolio in that it is a collection of evidence of abilities over a variety of contexts. Dynamic electronic versions are increasingly becoming popular because they offer the opportunity to review and be reviewed by peers and assessors alike.

Wikipedia (2009) suggests there are three different types of e-portfolios; developmental (e.g., working), reflective (e.g., learning), and representational (e.g., showcase). A developmental e-portfolio is a record of things that the owner has done over a period of time. A reflective e-portfolio includes personal reflection on the content and what it means for the owner's development and a representational e-portfolio shows the owner's achievements in relation to particular work or developmental goals.

Simon Cotterill (2004) suggests that the features that value add to an e-portfolio are its ability to be highly customisable, have a multi-purpose, multiple structures or views, easily enables cross-referencing, is sharable and facilitates interaction, is transportable, searchable, has reduced administration, is securely accessible from a range of locations and cannot be left on the bus! (Cotterill, 2004)

E-portfolio’s are an effective way of demonstrating student progress and providing evidence of that progress. It is interesting to note that in Helen Barrett’s (2008) research students overwhelmingly agreed that e-portfolio’s were effective as an organisational tool.

My own experience in attempting to set up an e-portfolio using Mahara has been testing. My limited experience of Web 2 applications has restricted my progress, as well as the fact that I am very much a digital immigrant in this new e-land. I am able to relate to the many teachers who reported on their use of e-portfolios in the classroom that the greatest barrier to the use of this application is time.

Developing expertise in web applications such as e-portfolios is one of the many responsibilities of the teacher of the twenty first century, to keep the learning content relevant and presented in a format that students of the future will expect.

Barrett, Helen. (2008). The REFLECT Initiative: Researching Electronic portFolios: Learning, Engagement and Collaboration through Technology/ [electronic resource]. Retrieved August 15, 2009 from

Cotterill SJ. What is an ePortfolio? ePortfolios 2007, Maastricht. [electronic resource]. Retrieved August 15, 2009 from

Wikipedia Website: Electronic Portfolio [electronic resource]. Retrieved August 15, 2009 from


  1. Sharon, I like your notes on e-Portfolios, even if I disagree with several of Cotterill's statements - and I have been present at several of his presentations and followed his work carefully.

    Firstly, as far as definitions are concerned, I believe that there is one definition in particular which is reasonably universal. Please see my slide:

    However, each of these points need expansion - which is part of my presentation.

    I disagree with him strongly about the statement that there should be different e-Portfolios for different purposes. NO! That's old-fashioned thinking dug up from some 10 years ago. I would argue that there need only be one e-Portfolio, so long as it has the ability to present different 'views' or 'windows' to different audiences. This way, one can store all of one's artefacts in one place or have tables of links etc, from which the learner can use different combinations of resources or artefacts.

    See my demo e-Portfolio at: as you may appreciate, this is a general e-Portfolio presenting myself as an educator and specialist in e-Portfolios. If I had set my heart on applying for a job in geriatric counselling or as a website technician I might use some of the same resources and yet presenting a totally different image of myself.

    Perhaps one question I would leave for you: How do you see the skills that you have developed as a teacher being adapted to the needs of a young learner who will obviously move from one institution to another?

    I have spent a lot of time exploring these things on my blog at: and would be interested in the feedback from you and your colleagues.

    Best Wishes,
    Ray T

  2. Hi Ray.

    Thank you for you comment. My skills as a teacher are still very much in the development stage, however in response to you question I agree with many of the points you make in your blog post,23 July, 2009 'Institutional Documentation'. As Beetham is quoted on your slide, an e-portfolio's purpose is to showcase progress and achievement and thus lends itself to any and all contexts.

    E-portfolios certainly provide the opportunity to support student's learning as they move from school to school, by providing ongoing evidence for analysis of strengths and weaknesses. It's just possible that this may be an effective tool to assist in preventing those students who currnetly fall through the gaps to be more effectively supported.

    All the best, Sharon