Learning e-portfolio

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“The (learning) portfolio concept is not a new concept. Indeed the French teacher, Celestine Freinet, introduced them in the late twenties of the last century in his classes. In the last years there appears to be a rebirth of this concept - mainly driven by technological development.” (Kalz, 2005: 164).

See the electronic portfolio article for portfolios other than learning, student, learner portfolios and personal learning environment for its integration into the social software in education movement.


  • A portfolio is a purposeful collection of student work that exhibits the student's efforts, progress, and achievements in one or more areas. The collection must include student participation in selecting contents, the criteria for selection; the criteria for judging merit, and evidence of student self-reflection. (Northwest Evaluation Association cited by Barret, 2000).
  • A portfolio may be defined as a purposeful collection of student work that tells the story of a student's effort, progress and/or achievement in one or more areas (Wade, 2005).


Here are some quotations that provide definitions of e-Portfolios:

  • “An eportfolio is a collection of works that reflect an individual's efforts, progress and accomplishments. An eportfolio is a public window for showcasing personal achievements. There are many benefits to having an eportfolio: wider knowledge, facilitated communication, and a skills assessment source for teachers.” Karsenti, retrieved 14:18, 24 June 2007 (MEST).
  • “E-portfolios are a valuable learning and assessment tool. An e-portfolio is a digitized collection of artifacts including demonstrations, resources, and accomplishments that represent an individual, group, or institution. This collection can be comprised of text-based, graphic, or multimedia elements archived on a Web site or on other electronic media such as a CD-ROM or DVD. An e-portfolio is more than a simple collection - it can also serve as an administrative tool to manage and organize work created with different applications and to control who can see the work. E-portfolios encourage personal reflection and often involve the exchange of ideas and feedback.” (Lorenzo and Ittelson, 2005)
  • “The electronic portfolio (e- portfolio) can be understood as a "a collection of authentic and diverse evidence, drawn from a larger archive representing what a person or organization has learned over time on which the person or organization has reflected, and designed for presentation to one or more audiences for a particular rhetorical purpose" (Educause Learning Initiative 2003). Although research into electronic portfolios has a short history, there are already two development directions for the e-portfolio-concept: "The 'e-portfolio' used for final assessment/ job seeking where the emphasis is on the product(s) and then the 'e-portfolio' used for reflection, deep learning, knowledge growth and social interaction where the emphasis lies on the process" (Tosh/Werdmuller 2004, 2). They call the second kind of e-portfolio a "personal learning landscape".” (Kalz, 2005: 164).
  • Two main purposes of the ePortfolio include: promotion of student centred learning and reflection; career planning and CV building (Tosh).
  • From Sorensen et al.: "This course uses virtual portfolios as a means of meeting needs for online structure for both learners and tutors. Our experience suggests that the virtual portfolio enhances "awareness", at both the level of learning and instruction (Gutwin et al. 1995) by managing overview of individual/collaborative learning expectation and progress, interactions with peers and instructors, reflection and self-awareness, and feedback and evaluation throughout the learning process. We also suggest that the implementation of portfolios into virtual collaborative learning environments may promote genuine collaboration (Salomon 1995). More specifically, from the instructional perspective, the virtual portfolio also provides structure for the more specific instructional tasks as overview of tutoring, overview of grading, access to past comments, suggestions and recommendations given in the tutoring process, and access to past student submissions with related recommendations.
  • Learning in a virtual or digital context demands new tools and new methods. I have discussed the potentials of using digital portfolios. I have argued that digital portfolios have several employments: They are a tool for assessing a student's work and progression; for structuring learning and teaching; for enhancing communication and collaboration; for sharing experiences and resources, and finally for supporting the construction of a community of practice. (Tolsby, 2001)

Why e-Portfolios ?

This section needs more work

Wade et al. (2005) cite the Quebec Education Programme (QEP): “The QEP" lists the following as possible advantages of portfolios, they: involve students in their learning (as a tool for reflection); allow students to increase their ability to self-evaluate; teach students to make choices; encourage students to better understand themselves and focus on their strengths; allow students to reflect on their procedures, strategies, and accomplishments so that they can improve and correct them and ultimately succeed; promote feedback during the learning process, particularly during individual conferences; encourage students to reflect on their strengths, needs, errors, interests, challenges, and objectives; encourage interactive processes among students, teachers, and parents; shows student progress because it tracks performance over time; and they are used to assess competencies developed by students.”

The same authors identified the following pedagogical value and Potential Benefits of Portfolios:

  • Student Self-regulation:
  • Metacognitive self-regulation:
  • Physical and social environment management:
  • Time management:189
  • Effort regulation:
  • Alternative or Authentic Assessment

The emphasis of this kind of portfolio is on the individual learning process, reflection and new plans for learning, i.e. a constructivist perspective. According to Kalz (2005:164), Attwell (2005) identifies seven different functions of an e-portfolio for learning:

  1. Recognizing Learning: Learning in a formal environment is usually recognized when pre-specified products are achieved. e-portfolios can be a means to recognize smaller learning achievements.
  2. Recording Learning: E-portfolios can be containers for recording formal assessment through scanned certificates for example. Additionally they can be used to record informal learning activities.
  3. Reflecting on Learning: Reflection is an important part of a learning process. The e-portfolio can be used for private, semi-public or public reflection of this process.
  4. Validating Learning: Validation in e-portfolios can be a self-validation or a validation from other persons. Validation means to "proof" that learning has happened. This validation can have different forms and can appear in different media.
  5. Presenting Learning: The presentation of learning is important in e-portfolios. This presentation can be used for job application or for academic application. Due to the importance of lifelong learning this presentation can change over time.
  6. Planning Learning: The learning process can be planned with the help of the e-portfolio. The learner can view his personal learning history through his e-portfolio and can view his next steps in personal competency development.
  7. Assessing Learning: Assessing means external control and judgment over the learners achievements.

Types and stages of Portfolios

According to the digital format

Some authors distinguish between "electronic portfolios", "digital portfolios" and "webfolios". I.e. electronic portfolios contain both computer-readable and analog formats, digital portfolios are computer readable, and webfolios are accessible over the web.

According to function

According to (Wade et al, 2000):

Danielson and Abrutyn (1997) identified three main types of portfolios: working, showcase, and assessment. Working (also known as 'process' or 'learning') portfolios contain works in progress, track student learning over time, and may be temporary because students move on to either an assessment or showcase portfolio. Showcase portfolios exhibit the student's best work. They are generally used to demonstrate the level of accomplishment that the student has attained. Students often use showcase portfolios during 189college applications or for professional employment purposes. Assessment portfolios are structured and standardized with 'the content of the curriculum determining what students select for their portfolios' (p.5).

A similar typologie is presented by Jan van Tartwijk, Erik Driessen on the EPICC Portal (also EPICC here):

  1. Assessment portfolios: are usually organized around items such as the candidates's products, evaluations, photographs and video-recordings
  2. Showcase portfolios: they most often tend to display examples of their best work or evaluations of that work
  3. Development portfolios: an instrument to keep track of and plan the owner's development.
  4. Reflective portfolios: reflections are usually organized around the competences the owner should master
  5. Combinations.

Stages of Electronic Portfolio Development

Helen C. Barrett (2000) presents typology of different stages related to multimedia development and which may be adapted to other contexts.

Portfolio Development Stages of Electronic Portfolio Development Multimedia Development
Purpose & Audience 1. Defining the Portfolio Context & Goals Decide, Assess
Collect, Interject 2. The Working Portfolio Design, Plan
Select, Reflect, Direct 3. The Reflective Portfolio Develop
Inspect, Perfect, Connect 4. The Connected Portfolio Implement, Evaluate
Respect (Celebrate) 5. The Presentation Portfolio Present, Publish

The QESN-RECIT (2005) identified five stages to the portfolio process for print-based or digital portfolios:189

  1. collection
  2. selection
  3. reflection
  4. evaluation
  5. celebration

History of web-based e-portfolios

Web-based portfolios go back to the mid-nineties, basically a webfolio meant student work presented on-line plus some sort of CMC to organise a course and also student-student communication. E.g. Takle, on the global change website defines the purpose and the benefits of a portfolio:

  • Purpose of the portfolio: A portfolio is defined as a "representative and judicious collection of your work." Your portfolio for this course has two fundamental purposes:
    1. providing a documentation of your work, and
    2. serving as the basis for evaluating your work against given standards.
  • Benefits of the portfolio
    1. The portfolio provides you the benefits of criteria to be used in judging your work.
    2. The portfolio provides you the benefits of direct evidence of your work.
    3. The portfolio provides you the benefits of a chance for self-analysis and reflection.
    4. A form of "electronic publishing."

See Sorensen et al. for an academic discussion of this website and from which we quote 2 important statements from the conclusion:

"The paper suggests that although the virtual portfolio in some ways seems to imply more attention and work from the tutor, it represents a strong tool for enhancing what we use to consider as important characteristics of collaborative learning: awareness and genuine collaboration. Through constituting a personal entrance to the learning scene, it enhances overview of learning expectations, learning content, learning goals, learning methods and individual/collaborative activities. Thus, if carefully designed, it facilitates instruction and constitutes a fruitful overview and basis for reflection on - and succeeding improvement of - instructional techniques and methods." (Sorensen et al., Conclusion)
"We may sum up the general strength of a virtual portfolio as concentrated in a significant ability to create a harmonious tapestry of past, present and future learning activities. The use of a virtual portfolio offers both learner and instructor a general overview and navigational orientation. By acting as a mirror during this evolution of past, present, and future learning, virtual portfolio enhances reflective activity and adds depth to learning in virtual contexts." (Sorensen et al., Conclusion).

Assessment and evaluation of an electronic porfolio

Assessment a student portfolios and assessment/evaluation of a design is somewhat related, since one needs clear criteria for both.

Douglas et al. (2004) claim that webfolios "may have the most significant effect on education since the introduction of formal schooling. When fully matured and implemented by capable professional educators throughout every discipline in an educational institution, webfolios promise a viable alternative to current, high-stakes testing, which focuses education on test-taking rather than teaching and learning. The promise webfolios hold - a richer educational experience for all - will not be realized, however, unless educators embrace webfolio concepts and apply them at their highest level of maturation."

The authors consider eight physical and theoretical qualities inherent in portfolio/webfolio processes and applications to determine five levels of maturation:

  • Level 1 Scrapbook
  • Level 2 Curriculum Vitae
  • Level 3 Curriculum Collaboration Between Student and Faculty
  • Level 4 Mentoring Leading to Mastery
  • Level 5 Authentic Evidence as the Authoritative Evidence for Assessment, Evaluation, and Reporting
The levels of maturation for portfolios/webfolios provide a conceptual framework for understanding webfolios and help readers position themselves in a particular level of webfolio development. The levels also provide conceptual guidance for taking the next step on the path to full implementation of webfolios in teaching and learning. (Douglas, 2004)

Herman & Winters (1994) state that we need evidence to assure the e-portfolios technical quality, fairness, effects of implementation, and feasibility.

According to Joanne Carney (2004), Zeichner and Wray (2001) identify six critical dimensions of variation:

  1. Purpose(s) of the portfolio,
  2. Control (who determines what goes into the portfolio and the degree to which this is specified beforehand )
  3. Mode of presentation (portfolio organization and format - including the technology chosen for authoring) ,
  4. Social Interaction (the nature and quality of the social interaction throughout the portfolio process)
  5. Degree of Involvement by the teacher (and others),
  6. Use (can range from low-stakes celebration to high-stakes assessment).

Software and standards

This section needs more work

Specialized software

  • Several commecial systems exist, but there ought to be also free and open source software. See for the moment Helen Barret's list (DSchneider did not test any specialized software so far)

Commercial software

  • Keeboo: a local exe application to manage and exchange different files combined in one "book"
  • HyperStudio: a local exe application to create a sort of an animated slide-show with text- and media-itegration.

open source software

  • Cyberfolio French-Canadian, free server software (GPL). Le Cyberfolio est un portfolio num"rique sous licence GNU/GPL en lien avec le programme de formation de l’"cole qu"b"coise.
  • Open Source Portfolio (OSP): a web-based electronic portfolio. The Open Source Portfolio Initiative (OSPI) is a community of individuals and organizations collaborating on the development of the leading non-proprietary, open source electronic portfolio software available. OSP is a part of the Sakai project.
  • The KEEP Toolkit (Carnegie Foundation). It had the following functions: (1) select and organize teaching and learning materials. (2) prompt analysis and reflection by using templates. (3) transform materials and reflections into visually appealing and intellectually engaging representations. (4) share ideas for peer-review, assessment, and collective knowledge building. (5) simplify the technical tasks and facilitate knowledge exchange and dissemination. This service is now integrated with Merlot, the well known Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching service.

Open and free Services

  • Edu-portfolio, is an electronic portfolio created by Professor Thierry Karsenti and his collaborators at the Universit" de Montr"al. Edu-portfolio.org is free for learners and educators at all levels for non-profit use.
  • The KEEP toolkit (see above) is also available as web service.

Commercial services

  • e-portfolios.net “provides a quick and easy way for teachers to evidence their professional standards, reflect upon their professional practice and maintain their professional development portfolio all online.” (cheap commercial, centered on UK)

Multi-user worlds

Other software

  • Aggregation portals like Elgg.net: online "Educational community" - it's possible to use this plattforme as an e-portfolio and to share it with others
    • Elgg.org: open-source social network software used by Elgg.net (integrated standards: RSS, FOAF, XML-RPC, LDAP pour authentification), can be used for e-portfolios
  • personal learning environments implemented with webtops or other mashup software.
  • Any sort of web-technology where students and teachers can write can do to some extent, e.g. a webserver, a blog or a wiki, a C3MS. Blogs and wikis are very popular. For a wiki-based project, see for example OpenSchulportfolio.
  • You also may consider that work produced within an LMS that engages students in on-line production can play the role of an e-Portfolio.
  • See also: The links section. These sites do contain pointers to software, specialized eportfolio portals, etc.


  • IMS e-portfolio XML Binding, Version 1.0 Final Specification, 2005 HTML.


Examples made by individuals (more needed)


Overviews and Research Agendas

  • Abrami, Philip C and Helen Barrett (2005). Directions for Research and Development on Electronic Portfolios, Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, 31 (3). HTML
  • Attwell, Graham (2005): Recognising Learning: Educational and pedagogic issues in e-Portfolios. blog-entry and PDF preprint (retrieved 14:57, 22 May 2006 (MEST)).
  • Berlanga, A.; Sloep, P.; Brouns, F.; Bitter-Rijpkema, M.; Koper, R. (2008). Towards a TENCompetence ePortfolio. International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning (iJET) 3. Abstract/PDF
  • Butler, Philippa (2006). A Review Of The Literature On Portfolios And Electronic Portfolios, Massey University College of Education, New Zealand and eCDF ePortfolio Project Steering Committee. PDF
  • Carney, J. (2004) Setting an Agenda for Electronic Portfolio Research: A Framework for Evaluating Portfolio Literature. Presentation at the American Educational Research Association Conference, April 14, 2004.PDF
  • Himpsl, K. and P. Baumgartner, Evaluation of E-Portfolio Software (2009). International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning (iJET), 4 (1) doi:10.3991/ijet.v4i1.831


  • Barrett, Helen C. (2000), Create Your Own Electronic Portfolio Using Off-the-Shelf Software to Showcase Your Own or Student Work, Published in Learning & Leading with Technology, April, 2000. HTML
  • Barrett, Helen C (2005). Researching Electronic Portfolios and Learner Engagement Whitepaper, The REFLECT Initiative, Researching Electronic portFolios: Learning, Engagement and Collaboration through Technology. PDF.
  • Batson, T. Electronic Portfolio Boom : What's it all About? Syllabus (2002) [1]
  • ePortConsortium (2003), Electronic Portfolio White Paper, PDF
  • Moon, Jenny (2005). "Guide for Busy Academics No. 4: Learning through reflection", Guide for Busy Academics No.4, The Higher Education Academy, 28/11/05. MS Doc file
  • Panettieri, Joseph C. (2004). Can ePortfolios Connect? These five smart steps can help you navigate perilous ePortfolio territory, University Business, HTML
  • Tosh, David & Werdmuller, Ben (2005): Creation of a Learning Landscape: weblogging and social networking in the context of e-portfolios. PDF

Methods and assessment methods

  • Herman, J., M. Gearhart, et al. (1993). "Assessing writing portfolios: Issues in the validity and meaning of scores." Educational Assessment 1: 201-224.
  • Herman, J. and L. Winters (1994). "Portfolio research: A slim collection." Educational Leadership 52(2).
  • Zeichner, K. & Wray, S. (2001). The teaching portfolio in US teacher education programs: what we know and what we need to know. Teaching and Teacher Education, 17, 613-621.


(mostly research and academic reflection)

  • Avraamidou, L. and C. Zembal-Saul (2004). "Exploring the Influence of Web-Based Portfolio Development on Learning To Teach Elementary Science." Journal of Technology and Teacher Education 11(3): 415-442.
  • Barret, Helen; Carney Joanne (2005): Conflicting Paradigms and Competing Purposes in Electronic Portfolio Development. Submitted to Educational Assessment, an LEA Journal, for an issue focusing on Assessing Technology Competencies.
  • Barrett, H. (2004) Electronic Portfolios as Digital Stories of Deep Learning - Emerging Digital Tools to Support Reflection in Learner-Centered Portfolios HTML
  • Bereiter, C., & Scardamalia, M. (1989). Intentional learning as a goal of instruction. In L. B. Resnick (Ed.), Knowing, learning, and instruction: Essays in honor of Robert Glaser. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. 361-392.
  • Cambridge, B. L. (2001). Electronic portfolios as knowledge builders. In B. L. Cambridge, S. Kahn, D. P. Tompkins & K. B. Yancey (Eds.), Electronic portfolios: Emerging practices in student, faculty, and institutional learning (pp. 1-11). Washington, DC: American Association for Higher Education.
  • Campbell, M. I., & Schmidt, K. J. (2005). Polaris: An undergraduate online portfolio system that encourages personal reflection and career planning. International Journal of Engineering Education, 21(5), 931-94
  • Danielson, C., & Abrutyn, L. (1997). An introduction to using portfolios in the classroom. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
  • Dorninger, Christian; Christian Schrack (2007). ePortfolios in Education - Learning Tools or Means of Assessment?, ICL2007, PDF Reprint
  • Educause Learning Initiative (2003): E-Portfolios.
  • Ellsworth, J. (2002). "Using student portfolios to increase reflective practice among elementary teachers." Journal of Teacher Education 53(4): 342-354.
  • Foote, C.J., & Vermette, P.J. (2001). Teaching portfolio 101: Implementing the teaching portfolio in introductory courses. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 28(1), 31-37.
  • Guo, Zinan and Jim Greer, Connecting E-portfolios and Learner Models, ARIES Laboratory, Department of Computer Science, University of Saskatchewan PDF, retrieved 16:51, 3 July 2006 (MEST).
  • Haag, S., Cummings, M., McCubbrey, D., Pinsonneault, A., Donovan, R. (2006). Management Information Systems for the Information Age. Building an E-portfolio(XLM-J). Toronto: Mcgraw-Hill. ISBN 0-07-095569-7.
  • Hebert, E. (2001) The Power of Portfolios, What children can teach us about Learning and Assessment. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Hilzensauer, Wolf and Gerlinde Buchberger (2009). MOSEP – More Self-Esteem With My E-Portfolio Development of a Train-the-Trainer Course for E-Portfolio Tutors, International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning (iJET), Vol 4, No 1 (2009). doi:10.3991/ijet.v4i1.820
  • Jafari, Ali (2004). The "Sticky" ePortfolio System: Tackling Challenges and Identifying Attributes, EduCause Review, July/August 2004 Volume 39, Number 4. HTML/PDF
  • Jafari, Ali and Catherine Kaufman (eds.) (2006). Handbook of Research on ePortfolios, ePortConsortium, Preface ISBN 1-59140-890-3 (also exists as electronic book).
  • Kalz,Marco (2005). Building Eclectic Personal Learning Landscapes with Open Source Tools, Open Source for Education in Europe, Research & Practise - Conference proceedings. http://dspace.ou.nl/handle/1820/1523
  • Kariuki, M. T., Sandy (2001). "Creating electronic portfolios using laptops: a learning experience for preservice teachers, elementary school pupils, and elementary school teachers." Journal of Technology and Teacher Education 9(4): 567-84.
  • Lacourse, France (2005). Le Cyberfolio : un nouveau portfolio num"rique à la Facult" d’"ducation de l’Universit" de Sherbrooke, Trait d’union express - Vol. 8 n° 4 - 10 novembre 2005 HTML et HTML
  • Lorenzo, George and John Ittelson (2005), An Overview of E-Portfolios, EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative, ID: ELI3001, PDF
  • Love Douglas, Gerry McKean, and Paul Gathercoal, (2004). Portfolios to Webfolios and Beyond: Levels of Maturation, Educause Quarterly 27 (2). [2]
  • Love, D., McKean, G., Gathercoal, P. (2004) "Portfolios to Webfolios and Beyond: Levels of Maturation" Educause Quarterly. Volume 27 Number 2. HTML
  • MacDonald, L., Liu, P., Lowell, K., Tsai, H., & Lohr, L. (2004). Graduate student perspectives on the development of electronic portfolios. TechTrends, 48(3), 52-55.
  • Marenzi, I., Demidova, E., Nejdl, W., Olmedilla, D., & Zerr, S. (2008). Social Software for Lifelong Competence Development: Challenges and Infrastructure. International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning (iJET), 3(0). Retrieved 2008-07-24, from http://online-journals.org/i-jet/article/view/545/499
  • Mendoza-Calderón, Marco A.; Ramirez-Buentello, Joaquin. (2006). Handbook of Research on ePortfolios. Facilitating Reflection Through ePortfolio at Tecnológico de Monterrey. Hershey, USA. Ali Jafari (Ed). pp: 484-493 ISBN 1-59140-890-3.
  • Milman, N. B., & Kilbane, C. R. (2005). Digital teaching portfolios: Catalysts for fostering authentic professional development. Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, 31(3) [ http://www.cjlt.ca/content/vol31.3/milman.html HTML]
  • Russell, J. & Butcher, C. (1999). Using Portfolios in Educational Technology Courses. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education. 7 (4), pp. 279-289. Charlottesville, VA: AACE.
  • Sherry, A. C., & Bartlett, A. (2005). Worth of electronic portfolios to education majors: A 'two by four' perspective. Journal of Educational Technology Systems, 33(4), 399-419.
  • Smits, H., Wang, H., Towers, J., Crichton, S., Field, J., & Tarr, P. (2005). Deepening understanding of inquiry teaching and learning with e-portfolios in a teacher preparation program. Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, HTML
  • Sorensen, E.K, Takle, E.S., Taber, M.R. and Fils.D., CSCL: Structuring the Past, Present and Future Through Virtual Portfolios, [3].
  • Tolsby, H. (1001). Digital Portfolios: a Tool for Learning, Self-Reflection, Sharing and Collaboration, HTML
  • Tolsby, H. & Sorensen, E.K. Designing Virtual Portfolios for Communities of Practice, [4]
  • Tosh D., Werdmuller, B., (2004) Portfolios and weblogs: one vision for ePortfolio development PDF
  • Tosh, David; Tracy Penny Light, Kele Fleming and Jeff Haywood (2005). Engagement with Electronic Portfolios: Challenges from the Student Perspective, Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, HTML
  • Vuorikari, Riina (2005), Social networking software and e-portfolios foster digitallearning networks, Special Insight Reports, European Schoolnet. HTML
  • Vuorikari, Riina (2005), Innovation Brief: Can personal digital knowledge artefact's managment and social networks enhance learning ? PDF
  • Wade, R.C., & Yarbrough, D.B. (1996). Portfolios: A tool for reflective thinking in teacher education.Teaching and Teacher Education: An International Journal of Research and Studies, 12(1), 63.
  • Weigel, Van B. (2002) Deep learning for a digital age: Technology's untapped potential to enrich higher education San Francisco: Jossey-Bass