From “Defining the ePortfolio” by Jill D. Jenson & Paul Treuer – 2014

These are the 4 defining characteristics of ePortfolios given by Paul Treuer in 1996 to software developers:

1. E-portfolios were to be owned and managed by the users (i.e., the students).
2. E-portfolios were to be used responsibly, through selective, thoughtful sharing of granular pieces of digital information.
3. E-portfolios were to be used to promote critical reflection.
4. E-portfolios were to be used to foster lifelong learning.

I think point number 2 is of particular importance as we think about the role of FYC in preparing students to create their ePortfolios. Specifically, if we ask first year students to create an ePortfolio, we have little hope of their being able to compile artifacts of their learning in a selective, thoughtful, responsible way if for no other reason than the fact that they will only have a single year of college instruction to draw from (to say nothing of the fact that most (maybe all) of their selections will be, at the end of four years, their LEAST representative work.

Goals 1, 2, and 3 however can (and probably should) be long term goals that students are introduced to at the beginning of their college careers. The earlier they start thinking in these terms about their learning, the more prepared they will be by the end of their degree.

So maybe the role of FYC is to 1) prepare students to make an ePortfolio down the road by introducing the concept, its goals, its payoffs, its methods, etc.

2) have them practice these habits of mind by creating a practice (or learner’s) portfolio.

This is where the eportfolio tool in Canvas might be incredibly useful: allows them to practice without making it public and ties in to their course work (at least the courses that use Canvas) throughout their career. The added benefit is that students who never complete the final, polished, public ePortfolio will still have practiced the skills of connection & reflection between all their classes rather than simply taking each course as an individual unit of learning.

Maybe we call them Spider Portfolios–emphasizes that their job is to make a web of learning AND it sounds more interesting than Practice Portfolios 🙂


2 thoughts on “From “Defining the ePortfolio” by Jill D. Jenson & Paul Treuer – 2014

  1. To follow up, I think it is INCREDIBLY important that we distinguish between ePortfolios and portfolios that happen to be in an electronic format. For one, students will encounter the ePortfolio Project in other contexts and it would be detrimental if they mistake or conflate that with FYC course portfolios, assignments, etc.
    Also, for the same reasons, when we teach it we will need distinct terms to differentiate between the professional, public, outward-facing ePortfolios they will (hopefully) make as seniors and the practice of creating portfolios, meta-cognitive refleciton, etc. which are habits that need to be promoted and practiced as freshman no matter what they end up doing as seniors.

    So, Spider Portfolio, Practice Portfolio, Reflective Portfolio, Web Portfolio… Other ideas for what we might call these things to distinguish them from the “ePortfolio”? Maybe something that links the project to Canvas if we decide to use that platform? Canvas Portfolio, LMS Portfolio, MEportfolio (or maybe that’s too close?)…


    1. I agree that we need to distinguish for the students the nature of our portfolio work for composition; though I don’t know that we need to avoid the term “eportfolio” to do that. Still, I like the gist of their article that their first attempts at fostering lifelong learning and reflection through eportfolio skills failed. Of course, one may wonder how many in the general population would be conducive to this in the first place, but the aim should be to encourage these practices to the best of our ability regardless. I also like their five “steps” (which they quickly claim are not necessarily linear) to encourage lifetime practices: collect, self-regulate, critically reflect, integrate, and collaborate. In particular I like the last item since it’s a skill or practice that the active learning class can particularly reinforce.


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