ePortfolios are a wonderful way for students to reflect on academic performance over time and summarize learning in a personalized, electronic space. Not only are ePortfolios an interesting new media with which students can demonstrate academic, technological and creative skills during their tenure in college, they may also serve as a wonderful marketing tool that may be of benefit to students upon graduation. Students entering the work force or applying to grad school will have acquired a beneficial skill that may carry over into new job responsibilities or booster creative expression in meaningful ways after their time as students. ePortfolios promote a culture of lifetime learning and help students become better problem solvers, critical thinkers who are more attuned with the meta-cognitive factors that will enable them to be lifetime learners.
Faculty may also benefit from the adoption of ePortfolios through the accessibility of data on student learning outcomes necessary for program improvement and WASC, not to mention the importance of staying current and competitive in this ever increasingly digital world that we inhabit. Digital media provide incredibly powerful tools that may be used for promoting innovation and education across the vastness of culture, socio-economic status and belief system. The manner in which these tools have become integrated into our daily life is a significant shift that we must not take for granted. Faculty should feel comfortable with stepping in, at least momentarily to these electronic spaces that now define the world that our students will soon be asked to manage.
Not to mention the more immediate problem of filling rooms with massive paper binders that waste resources and take up large quantities of space. This current reality is no longer an inevitability as electronic portfolios offer an intelligent solution while also offering students greater creative flexibility as well as a personal learning space that they can continue to build upon as they pursue other ventures in life.
There are many programs at Saint Mary’s College that are already using ePortfolios for assessment and intellectual growth. The Art Department was naturally the first department to dive into ePortfolios and started with the Carnegie Foundation’s “Keep” system which has since ceased to offer services after their research on ePortfolios completed. Next, the SMC Honors Program decided to incorporate ePortfolios with encouragement from Mary Volmer who helped pave the way in finding the best system for their program in Fall 2009. Mary and her students’ pilot tested various electronic portfolio systems during the 2009-10 academic year, and after problems with Campus Pack Fusion a wiki feature available inside Blackboard, found that WordPress was simple to learn, stable and slick. Soon after Mary’s lead, other programs also expressed interest including the Liberal and Civic Studies Program and the Ed.D Program in Educational Leadership. Last Spring, Monica Fitzgerald helped pave the way for her departments decision to move forward with ePortfolios by creating an assignment on environmental awareness using WordPress as the presentation method. You can see examples of this project here:
L and CS has been wanting to move toward and electronic version of their portfolios requirement and looked into a number of systems including Taskstream and but had not found a system that worked, until now! Thank you Monica Fitzgerald and Mary Volmner for leading the way and helping other faculty see how WordPress can be a simple, elegant solution to the need for e-Portfolios.