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Originally published by Raymond Cantin for Vitrine technologie-éducation on October 6, 2010.
Traditionally, portfolios have been used for revealing and portraying a person’s skills, education, learning and achievements. But traditional portfolios are slowly being replaced by web-based information management systems called digital portfolios or e-portfolios. These are made up of a collection of digital artefacts that can include inputted text, assignments or projects, graphics, images, photographs, websites or blog entries. If they are online, e-portfolios can be maintained dynamically over time: teachers can track their students’ progress over the years, encouraging them and providing positive feedback.
Research shows that e-portfolios facilitate students’ reflection on their own learning, leading to increased awareness of learning strategies and needs. Results of a comparative research between paper-based portfolios and electronic portfolios in the same setting suggest that use of an electronic portfolio leads to better learning outcomes.
A European project is even using e-portfolios in order to strengthen the self-esteem of young learners.
Specialists in the field believe that use of digital portfolios represents an opportunity to improve the quality of education, providing teachers and staff with valuable information to design individualized, challenging learning experiences. Some Open Source e-portfolio systems are available for those who would like to implement an e-portfolio project in their institution.
In the following podcast interview, Dr. Helen Barrett, an international specialist and speaker on the subject of e-portolios, gives her definition of e-portfolios. She also talks about how this new technology gives students opportunities for taking ownership of their learning process, and how e-portfolios are used in innovative ways in different parts of the world to truly engage learners.