People regularly organize myriad aspects of their lives—careers, projects, and finances—into portfolios for easy reference and reflection. It is a valuable habit and one that educators are introducing to students at an early stage through ePortfolios.
An ePortfolio is a cloud-based repository and assessment tool where students—in any academic discipline—may upload and organize course assignments and materials. Often housed within learning management systems or class wikis, ePortfolios serve as a student’s personal micro-site where they may submit assignments, reflect upon their learning, and connect class theory to real-world application.
At the University of Waterloo, Dr. Marcel Pinheiro uses ePortfolios to promote science literacy amongst his biology students. For example, the professor will post news articles on the course LMS or twitter feed relating to that week’s subject, such as zoology, along with a guiding question. Students will then write a brief response based on the article they chose and upload it to their ePortfolio for the professor to grade and provide feedback.
In addition to promoting science literacy, these assessments serve to develop writing skills for the biology students who may not be given as much exposure to the exercises as students in other academic disciplines.
There are numerous practical benefits for students as well. Throughout a course, students may use their ePortfolio as a study reference, a repository for peer-reviewed or news articles, and an area to reflect upon their grades and feedback. Furthermore, students may even use material from older courses to support themselves throughout the remainder of their academic career.
ePortfolios are mutually beneficial for both students and educators—across all academic disciplines and levels—to reflect upon progress and keep organized. If you haven’t already, consider setting one up in a course and see its impacts on learning outcomes.
About the Author: Dustin is a senior account manager with DesignedUX, providing communications and strategy to organizations in education and technology. Dustin is also board member of the Canadian Public Relations Society and contributes as a communications researcher with McMaster University.