Published on Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Synopsis: The transformative potential of ePortfolios is only achieved when the student is able to deeply integrate their learning from several classes. Not only does an ePortfolio fail to transform the learner when it is assigned to meet the requirements of a single class, but it can in fact be detrimental. To make the most out of the experience for a student, faculty need to think more broadly about their responsibilities to students. The goal of an ePortfolio project must not be to document learning in a single class, but rather to broadly connect learning from across the curriculum. This is not to say you can’t use an ePortfolio for learning AND assessment—but in order to do both, you have to integrate “activities across the curriculum at a scale almost never attempted by programs invested only in meeting the demands of external accountability”. So, Cambridge proposes that the best practices in individual classes might be what he calls Low Threshold Assignments:
These assignments may not involve e-portfolios directly or at all. Rather, they have two possible goals: either supporting the development of students’ reflective practice, or using multimedia and social software to document experience and identity. The products of these low-threshold assignments could be collected in a shared e-portfolio space provided by the institution. Integrative e-portfolio activities could then ask students to select from and reflect on this archive of evidence of their learning.
The power of the ePortfolio is not its ability to meet traditional goals (or assess student work) in a new medium but rather to disrupt traditional learning by asking students to forge new connections between learning experiences.