Angela Baker

European Institute for e-Learning - EIfEL angela.baker@eife-l.org Europortfolio www.europortfolio.org Abstract. The choice of an ePortfolio tool or system will depend largely on the its intended task or purpose which could be assessment, recrutement, presentation, reflection, learning or a combination of these. An ePortfolio is an enabler and at EifEL we believe that it is the tool that best encourages, supports and valorises lifelong learning and that by 2010 all citizens should have their own ePortfolio!

1. Introduction
1.1. Objectives
The objective of my presentation is to provide non technology experts with an understanding of the ePortfolio tools and systems being used around the world today and an understanding of their content, functionalities or services. I will illustrate this overview by presenting selected examples of ePortfolios from different educational sectors and by demonstrating some of their functionalities. A selection of the ePortfolio tools presented will be made available to delegates for a ‘hands on’ experience during the practical sessions. In this summary paper I will provide an overview of the points that will be illustrated in my conference presentation.


Background to ePortfolios

We are now living in a society which is in constant evolution where the notion of one job, one career and one location is now the exception rather than the norm. There is thus a need for individuals to continually renew, adapt and expand their knowledge and skill sets which can only be achieved via engagement in lifelong learning The ePortfolio movement has grown as a consequence of the
[1] dynamics of functioning on a knowledge economy, the changing nature of learning and the changing needs of the learner.

From an institutional point of view the need to render qualifications and accreditaion as authentic as possible to start students on their lifelong learning

path has triggered a paradigm shift in the world of assessment. Formal written and timed examinations are little by little giving way in many countries to continual assessment and paper based portfolios have been used a means for learners to show evidence of their achievements. Paper portfolios got learners more implicitly involved in the evaluation phase as they would select which work items they would submit for evaluation. Reflection is part of the process when using paper based portfolio but they don’t allow for this reflection process to be captured in any tangible manner. The introduction ICT has enabled the more ‘invisible’ processes of learning: research, reflection, interaction, feedback, experimentation to be captured via the now common place communication tools from simple emails, chat and fori for interaction to blogs, wikis for reflexion and webquests for researching. For presentation purposes tools such as webpages, powerpoint and blogs. And video and audio for capturing visual and audio evidence.

2. What are ePortfolios?
2.1. Defining the ePortfolio
So how then do we define what we call today an ePortfolio or webfolio? I have found as many ePortfolio tools and there are definitions of ePortfolios but would like to share some of them with you here:
[2] E-portfolios are electronic records that store learners' experiences and achievements. They are personalised learning supports. For example, they give learners easy access to relevant information, including enrolment and registration. They could also record the personal aims and interests of the learner. Electronic portfolios allow learners to own their learning records and take them with them when they leave institutions, providing a seamless transition between different stages of education. [3] A collection of purposefully-organised artifacts that support backward and foreward reflection to augment augment and assess growth over time [4] An ePortfolio is a web-based information management system that uses electronic media and services. The learner builds and maintains a digital repository of artifacts, which they can use to demonstrate competence and reflect on their learning

As the list definitions is endless I would summarise the main characteristics of an ePortfolio as tool which:

Is learner owned and driven Enables a learner to demonstrate achievement Enables a learner to manage their learning and its outcomes Supports reflective practice Enables portability and transparency of learning achievements Is dynamic and not static

ePortfolio platforms are organised around three main entities:


The repository – all the artifacts (or links to) and reflections of the eP owner that will be used to produce presentations The presentations – all the views that are accessible, publicly or privately The services – all the features useful to provide support to learning, assessment etc.

 

Generally when we refer to ePortfolios we refer to the ‘presentation’, the visible part of the ePortfolio system.


Key features of an ePortfolio

The ePortfolio platforms in use today have been developed around a particular idea of an ePortfolio:


Assessment ePortfolios: For obtaining accrediation and qualifications and most often used in schools, Higher Education organisations and awarding bodies. Learning ePortfolios: For life-long learning and a career support tool Presentation ePortfolios: For recrutement, appraisal, social purposes.

However to best support lifelong learning an eP platform should support the various services required at the different stages of use of an ePortfolio in the learner’s lifelong journey i.e. assessment, learning, employment etc. Below I have listed some of the services which an ePortfolio platform should typically provide to support the learner in developing and maintaining his/her ePortfolio for a variety of purposes:

Repository (document management):
Privacy Access management Link to authentification servers (for certificates and diploma) Fine grain access to documents Heterogenous system (link to documents anywhere) Access tracking Predefined items Create own items Import/export items/ePortfolios … Reflection

Personal sharable blog Link reflection to items and reciprocally Notification to peers for feedback … Presentation

Multiple presentation Create multiple templates Collect feedback … Planning learning and development

Planner Links to respositories of learning resources Examples of ePortfolios Link to peers (people with same skills) and potential mentors … Assessment

Peer review Institutional review Import/structure standards of competence Cross referencing with standards of competence Assessment rubrics Collect feedback Notification … Community (learning, professional)

Organise peers, friends, reviewers Share items with peers Notification … Employment

Track visits Collect feedback Link to standards of competence …

3. Examples of ePortfolio Tools and Services
In my presentation I will demonstrate different examples of ePortfolio tools so as to provide participants with an overview of the state of the art ePortfolio tools currently being used around the world. However it is important to note that ePortfolios are still relatively new and that many of these tools are currently being enhanced with additional functionalities for release in the coming months. The tools presented in this session will also be made available

to all participants in the practical session enabling them to have a “hands-on” experience of creating their own ePortfolio.


Open source ePortfolio tools

Here I will present two open source ePortfolio tools: the OSPI (Open Source Portfolio Initiative) tool and the ELGG open source tool.

OSPI1 released a public version of the Open Source Portfolio (a web-based portfolio) in July 2003 and via its free download it has been the basis for a number of pilot projects. A French version of OSP has been produced by Groupe Initiatives in France in 2004. OSPI plan to release a significantly enhanced version (v2) of OSP in December 2005 enabling “individuals and institutions to assemble a purposefully organised, individual- centric collection of information and digital artifacts for a programme of assessment, reflection and individual growth”. A beta version of release v2 is available for developers from the OSPI website. OSP is targeted at Higher Education users but the next release and future projects will focus on software for K-12 and Corporate markets in line with their vision of an ePortfolio for life-long learning. Elgg is a Personal Learning Landscape or in other terms a learning portfolio with a difference! The strength lies in its reflective and collaboration potential. It is all about the learner making relevant connections as it provides users with the possibility to create and join groups, invite friends etc.. Elgg has just opened for general registration and has been released under the GNU GPL license. Elgg are currently working on providing language plug-ins which will enable users to select the language of their choice. 3.2. Commercial ePortfolio Tools
Here I will present two commercial ePortfolio tools: iWebfolio (Nuventive) and MAPS (Tag Learning)

iWebfolio (learning portfolio) is a web-based persolized portfolio, hosted in a secure environment by Nuventive. The portfolio is available to owners and reviewers via an on-line password log-in facility. iWebfolio is targetted primarily at Higher Education market but has also been used by the wider community, by EifEL members for example! User organisations can add templates to the basic structure of the webfolio which means that it can be used for assessment purpose too. One of the main advantages is the ubiquitous access via any web browser. iWebfolio is used in North America by
Founded by the University of Minnesota, University of Delaware and a commercial partner the r-smart group in 2003.

Educational Institutions who adopt it . A significantly enhanced version will be released in the autumn with more graphical options and greater interactivity.

MAPS 2(Assessment Portfolio) is web-enabled software originally designed to assess ICT capability and now extended to include all other school subjects. The original focus of the system was two-fold: i) to help the learner reflect on, understand and improve their own performance; ii) to help educators share best practice in terms of making valid assessments and hence also improve their performance. The emphasis in the MAPS approach has always been on trying to support a formative assessment process which helps both the learner and educator to grow. Students evidence their progress not just through the product of their learning but also through the process of their learning, with opportunities to reflect on progress. MAPS is based upon the concept of online portfolios, with teachers maintaining portfolios of exemplar tasks whilst students maintain portfolios of work carried with them between each phase of their education. The portfolio was originally structured according to the requirements of the UK curriculum but has since been extended to allow work to be submitted to accreditation bodies - including the Scottish Qualifications Authority and OCR (Oxford Cambrigde and RSA). Following the launch in September 2002, MAPS has developed into a system covering all stages of school education and all subjects and is now used throughout the UK with over 66,000 pupils registered to use MAPS. The earliest MAPS users have had their MAPS portfolios for over 3 years now and TAG are now keen to look at ways to make the MAPS portfolios available to the students beyond school. 3.3. Home-made ePortfolio tools
Here I will present some examples of in-house developed ePortfolio tools as currently being used in many Higher Education establishments in North America. They are all web-based portfolios.


Desktop software ePortfolios

Here I will present some examples ePortfolios using very simple desktop and web software such as blogs, personal webpages and even Excel (thanks to Helen Barrett)!

4. Conclusions and Recommendations
Although Europortfolio, EifEL and our International partners advocate an ePortfolio for all by 2010 there are a considerable number of barriers to achieving this objective that we hope the ePortfolio community will address rapidly. Furthermore it is important to point out that an ePortfolio for all is in

Managed Assessment Portfolio System

no way synonymous to 1 ePortfolio tool for all! ePortfolios should support diversity and individuality rather than stifle it. This is why one of the most important issues to be addressed is that of interoperability so that the various tools and data are fully portable and interoperable. Thanks to the work of IMS and the EPICC3 project we are now seeing the emergence of a set of specifications for ePortfolios and this issue will be addressed by IMS at the event. However for specifications and standards to have impact they must be adopted by the ePortfolio providers around the globe. Other than interoperability another barrier to be crossed is that of the lack of existing ePortfolio tools in languages other than English. Apart from the bilingual interfaces of the eEuropean Language Portfolio (ALTE), Career Wales On-line portfolio and a French version of OSP (Groupe Initatives), I have not as yet seen in Europe any other multilingual or non-English ePortfolio tools. I hope that this event will spark off the creation of a German ePortfolio tool! It is not necessary to build a new tool to address the German-speaking market but consider: Adapting open source tools for German Using desktop tools which already exist (Webpages, Blogs etc.) Localising a commercial eP tool via partnership with a supplier As you may well have noticed from the examples I have shown there are a wealth of ePortfolio tools for Higher Education and a growing number for the schools market. However as I stated at the start of my presentation ePortfolios are a tool for lifelong learning and offer great potential for supporting learning in informal and non-formal learning experiences. We hope that this area will be addressed very soon otherwise those leaving formal education with ePortfolios will not find the recognition and continuation of their learning portfolio in their professional lives and also as a citizen.

5. References
[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] Siemens, G. 2004. ePortfolios. Elearn Space Towards a Unified eLearning Strategy: Education and Skills council UK OSPI: www.theospi.org ELearning Portal: http://www.deskootenays.ca/wilton/eportfolios/whatitis.php Open Source Development site: http://elgg.net/development/index.php Nuventive, iWebfolio. www.nuventive.com Tag Learning, MAPS www.maps-ict.com Barret, Helen. http://electronicportfolios.org/myportfolio/versions.html

European ePortfolio Initiatives Coordination Committee

[9] EPICC project: www.epiccproject.info

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