Evolution of e-portfolio spaces

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As a TLT/ETS Faculty Fellow I have had the opportunity to participate in some exciting ventures that otherwise would not have been possible. In that past year, we were able to craft a few features within the PSU blogging platform - teacher education framework template and pack it up - that allowed us to explore the potential of blogs as professional portfolio spaces. Very exciting! In a recent post, I provided an overview of some of the things we learned during the pilot study with elementary education majors participating in the Elementary Professional Development School Partnership.


My current musings, however, are centered on the premise that this has merely been an evolution of e-portfolio development driven by emerging technologies and their affordances. I recently came across slides of my early presentations about e-portfolios from a dozen plus years ago. All the key ingredients were there - multimedia, non-linear, multiple versions over time, reflection - including an emphasis on pursuing an evidence-based approach. Put another way, I continue to view portfolios as dynamic spaces for students to make a case for their development as professionals using evidence from multiple sources collected throughout their experience at Penn State, including coursework, field experiences, internships, etc. So while we marched through various platforms for e-portfolio construction (i.e., Hypercard, Claris HomePage, Dreamweaver, Taskstream, and now blogs), the spirit of e-portfolio work has remained fairly consistent. 

*Amy's e-portfolio from 2004-05 constructed in Dreamweaver (above). Amy's e-portfolio re-constructed in the blogging platform (below).

Click here to view a sample portfolio from the pilot study.


The big lessons from these experiences are: (1) connecting reflections to artifacts/evidence enhanced their meaningfulness in terms of learning; (2) engaging in reflection on development in an ongoing way, rather than as summative assessments, was more powerful in terms of learning; and (3) when e-portfolios became private by default, it made the already challenging process of "portfolio conversations" next to impossible.

The single space around e-portfolios that continues to perplex me is connected to the notion of reflection. At the end of the day, portfolio spaces belong to the individual, and reflective practice fails to take up social aspects of learning. Why is this a problem for me? As a teacher educator who studies reflection and learning, I buy into the role of evidence-based analysis of thinking and practice as being integral to the process of learning to teach. However, I also hold commitments about knowledge and learning that emphasize its social, situated and distributed nature. Currently, blogs as portfolios support the personal reflection space, but remain largely silos given their roots as "personal publishing platforms."

So where does revolution enter the picture? Stay tuned for the next post.

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