In graduate school, I serendipitously learned about ePortfolios and everything came unstuck. I realized that ePortfolios – if designed and implemented in an intentional, integrative way – could be the glue I was imagining. I also started to understand the complexity of ePortfolios, which I gradually recognized can be both an asset and a limitation. If ePortfolios are both process and product, as well as a system for collecting-selecting-reflecting-projecting, and an assessment strategy, while also serving a professional development function – then what are they, really? I’m a big believer that if something promises to be everything, then in many ways, it sets itself up to be nothing. As an advocate of ePortfolio pedagogy, I’ve long struggled with this tension, and felt that the lack of a clear definition, standards, conventions, and parameters has both held ePortfolios back but also enabled the idea of ePortfolios to be dynamic and perpetually adaptable – which may very well be what’s kept ePortfolios relevant in the constantly and rapidly changing fields of education and technology.
The reason I still believe ePortfolios have so much potential is all in the “e” – and I don’t think it stands for “electronic.” A decade ago, that an ePortfolio was electronic was likely a big part of what made it innovative. In today’s world where there’s always “an app for that” and with “the cloud” hovering ever-present all around us, that’s no longer the case. The magic of the “e” in ePortfolio is not that it signifies a digital format, but that it captures the pedagogy of experience, evidence, and engagement. That’s what ePortfolios are really about.
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