Initial Thoughts

Having chewed through seven articles and half a book (Documenting Learning with ePortfolios), I have some thoughts about eportfolio for composition coalescing.  What I like: the extra levels of creativity it brings to the semester (and hopefully beyond), the self-reflection, the emphasis on process, the holistic view of knowledge and learning, the promotion of an active rather passive classroom experience, the opportunities for inquiry (including self-inquiry), and the applications beyond the semester.  My more practical questions that have arisen: how do we avoid the students seeing themselves just as people uploading content? how and when do we assess their work?  what exactly will we be assessing and in what proportions?  how do we avoid making reflection just another artifact?  how will this affect the continuity we want between the two courses in the core composition sequence?  can we or should we connect this to the eportfolio project supported by the Office of University Writing?  I think stressing the inter-connectivity of much of this will address some of these concerns at least in part.  Looking forward to finding answers.



4 thoughts on “Initial Thoughts

  1. Scott–I agree with you completely on the “what I like”. I also share your concerns about the practical challenges of implementing this project into our comp classes. I don’t have answers. I do have another way of contextualizing your questions though (or rather a new problem / question for us to look into). This is specifically related to our role as leaders on this project and has a lot to do with that distinction you made the other day about “Stakeholders”: The problem / question / challenge is how to categorize and distinguish between levels of practice and application as they relate to our stakeholders: students, GTAs, Instructors, Lecturers, Teaching Circle Leaders, Composition Admin, English Admin, ePortfolio Admin. As I understand/conceive of it, the questions you pose have to do with the most practical (and important) level – classroom application.

    I am asking this because I see our role as teachers of ePortfolio (or at least its habits of mind) as separate from our role as teachers of teachers of ePortfolio.

    Do you think it is useful to make this kind of distinction? (I just want to make sure I’m on the same page with you!)


    1. Interesting, proposition, Lindsay. I hadn’t seen us as teachers of those who may teach eportfolio, at least not in the foreground of my vision. I suppose I thought that if we couldn’t make it work for us as the teachers of students, then anything that followed would be moot. I think what I hear you saying is that you see us in both roles as we proceed, which makes sense. The implication here is that what makes eportfolio viable as a pedagogy for our students should be a significant factor in convincing our peers of its merit. That’s just one reason I think it’s been very useful to look at the scholarship on portfolios and their use in composition. What I’m interested to see are some working models of the application of these ideas. If, for example, one of our goals is to increase the likelihood that our students will be lifelong learners (which has probably always been one of our hopes anyway), then I’m wondering what kind of specific assignments within this model would promote that while also meeting the department’s SLOs for the course. It seems, as some of the articles have pointed out, that the way to do this is to get the students beyond seeing the class as a box to tick off on their way to graduation, and if we had a way to make eportfolio something they could take beyond the class, then that would be one way to go. If, for example, the final exam was an assignment to create an eportfolio space outside of class where they could continue to develop their sense of self as scholars if they choose to, then they’d have a platform to do so.

      Dr. Scott Simkins Lecturer, Dept. of English Auburn University ________________________________________


  2. Hi Lindsay and Scott,

    Thanks so much for sharing this space with me. I haven’t made it all the way through yet, but I wanted to stop for a moment and ask if you would share the citations–or at least the titles and authors–of what you’ve read so far.

    Looking forward to working with you.



    1. Looking forward to working with you, too, Lesley. If you check the menu and go to scholarly research and click on any of the articles listed there, you should find the information you seek, but we can also add that information to the list in a more traditional manner.


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