MAKING CONNECTIONS: EPORTFOLIOS FOR LEARNING AND ASSESSMENT
This proposal requests support to extend a multidisciplinary ePortfolio project across
professional schools on the University of Oregon campus, including the Schools of
Architecture and Allied Arts, Journalism and Communication, the Business School, and the
Center for Advanced Technology in Education. NWACC funds would support extension of the
existing ePortfolio project across campus.
Universities and colleges employ ePortfolios for a variety of purposes, including supporting
students in professional and career advancements (professional portfolios), for student-
centered assessment and reflection (academic portfolios that represent a student’s “body of
work,”) and for the purposes of institutional
accreditation (provides a means to archive and represent student achievement across
Portfolios have long been used as teaching and learning tools, and in professional
development in Schools of Education and Fine Arts Colleges. However, with the emergence
of new technologies, eportfolios are revolutionizing how students across disciplines manage
information and learning, and prepare for professional careers.
Applications of ePortfolio
Interest in the use and applications of eportfolios is growing in the U.S. Universities that
employ eportfolios, integrate them into coursework and student learning. Students document
and legitimize their learning choices through a record in their eportfolios. At the University of
Minnesota, for instance, they are using eportfolios for:
• Creating a system of tracking student work over time, in a single course, with
students and faculty reflecting on it.
• Aggregating many students' work in a particular course to see how the students
as a whole are progressing toward learning goals.
• Assessing many courses in similar ways that are all part of one major and thus,
by extension, assessing the entire program of study.
• Encourage continuity of student work from semester to semester in linked courses
Universities such as University of Michigan, Penn State, and Indiana University, are among
the growing numbers of universities adopting and implementing university-wide eportfolio
systems for the purposes of student and institutional assessment. Penn State University has
a comprehensive eportfolio system that places student self-assessment at the center. The
University of Michigan is one of many colleges across the country adopting eportfolios in a
comprehensive information management system that allow students to archive and represent
academic work, for faculty to manage online group collaboration and to archive and present
“best of” materials from their classes, for institutional data collection, and for communication
with professional communities and networks. The University of Minnesota has implemented a
multi-campus initiative in eportfolios as a teaching and learning tool, as well as for
professional preparation. Others include the University of Washington, University of Florida,
University of Wisconsin, and Stanford - to name a few.
In response to the growing demand, software programs-- particularly open-source software--
that provide flexible content management systems compatible with the ePortfolio process, are
increasing. The Open source Portfolio Initiative (OSPI) supported universities, such as
University of Minnesota and Portland State University, to develop campus-wide eportfolio
systems. CATE, one of our partners, is currently undergoing an assessment of over 25
ePortfolio systems that are being made available to universities.
We have been working to build a campus environment for eportfolios at the University of
Oregon since Fall 2005. The Arts and Administration Program has had an active professional
ePortfolio project since Fall 2005. Graduate students are required to create and manage
eportfolios beginning their first year.
The support structures and system for extending and developing ePortfolios are in place. The
first two years of the ePortfolio pilot project were funded by the University of Oregon
Educational Technology Committee. We developed program material that included a clear set
of goals, objectives, and implementation timeline. Throughout, we conducted an extensive
program evaluation, which allowed us to adjust for continuous improvement and were able to
put systems into place that support the eportfolio process, and have the potential for broader
application. (Please see website at http://eportfolio.uoregon.edu). During Year One, we
implemented a simple website to host the eportfolios, and developed systems to support
student success in creating digital portfolios for learning and assessment.
Significant momentum was generated in the second year through the formation of a campus
wide ad hoc ePortfolio group composed of faculty, staff, and researchers in the professional
schools. Concurrent efforts in the School of Journalism and the College of Education’s Center
for Advanced Technology in Education revealed significant opportunities for
resource/expertise collaboration in ePortfolios on campus.
During Year Three of our pilot project, the Schools of Journalism and Architecture and Allied
Arts worked together to pilot PLONE for ePortfolios, an open source content management
system successfully implemented on a course-basis in the School of Journalism. The new
PLONE-based website has the capacity to include faculty and students from the other
professional schools. This level of development of the course-related component of the
project will best take place in an intentional multi-disciplinary collaborative environment, with
support for planning, piloting, and development. We seek NWACC Proof of Concept grant
support to assist us to take the next necessary steps to pilot an ePortfolio system for
University of Oregon students and faculty.
We propose to use NWACC support to pilot the use of existing structures to increase the
capacity of faculty to:
1. Expand use of the website to support innovation in course instruction addressing
the need of faculty to have digital course archives to access and demonstrate best
work, and for students to archive academic work and to collaborate and communicate
2. Support inter-departmental planning and collaboration for the use of ePortfolios across
courses and Schools.
3. Pilot and evaluate issues attendant to a multi-functional digital community for the
purposes of dissemination.
Our vision for ePortfolios on campus demonstrates three functions: fully public professional
ePortfolios that serve to connect students and campus with the professional communities;
hybrid spaces that flex between public and private spaces where students and faculty work on
group projects related to course work, assess their work, and make public and archive the
final course projects (similar to how many faculty are now using wikis and weblogs) ; thirdly,
fully private spaces where students assess, document, and archive all academic work at the
The four professional schools involved in this initiative are utilizing ePortfolios for one (or
more) of these functions, which creates a unique opportunity to pilot each functionality and
work toward a streamlined system that incorporates all three. This innovative initiative
represents a unique opportunity for each college/department to build on existing strengths
and goals and to create a model that addresses a comprehensive ePortfolio system.
The American Association for Higher Educationiv offers a list of 45
eportfolio programs in higher education. The European ePortfolio community has the goal of a
lifelong ePortfolio for every citizen by 2010, which allows every person to archive and
represent professional and academic growth throughout their education and careers. As the
use of digital technologies and eportfolios in middle schools and high schools in the U.S.
increase, universities must be prepared to address entering students’ demands for continuing
these learning products through their college and professional careers. Implications for
extending connections with alumni and professional networks for the purposes of recruitment,
development, and alumni relations can also be addressed through the ePortfolio system.
Faculty have expressed the need to have a virtual space where student work related to
courses can be archived and which can be used to showcase best practices to students and
others. They have also requested a virtual collaboration function to manage group projects,
communication, and assessment.
Students have asked for a space where they can archive and manage academic progress,
where they can port their best work from the fully private academic environment to a fully
public professional space for professional and career development. Students self-select
materials they feel represent their best work, and can migrate these materials from private
course space to the fully public professional portfolio.
We envision an open-source eportfolio multi-disciplinary system that has the flexibility
required in an ever changing learning environment, and which can be accessed by any faculty
or student in the participating programs, and which is responsive to discipline-specific needs.
EPortfolio applications in institutions of higher learning are increasing. We feel that our vision,
integrated into a PLONE-based webspace, and developed through intentional collaboration of
the professional schools on campus, represents a unique eportfolio approach, which has the
potential to become a model for other institutions of higher learning across the country.
A well-designed eportfolio system and set of practices impacts multiple audiences:
• For students: encourages deeper learning, more significant connections across
and professional career development.
• For faculty: encourages new approaches to teaching and evaluating learning.
• For administrators: supports assessment goals
• For Alumnus: Every student will have the opportunity to create an eportfolio
account, which will stay with them throughout their university career, and can be
maintained after graduation.
We have been conducting a program evaluation of the ePortfolio project since it began in Fall
2005. Results of the evaluation have shaped the development of the project every step of the
way. NWACC funds would apply to supporting the ongoing evaluation of the project as it
expands to other programs and schools across campus. Results of the evaluation would
function as a platform to engage in campus-wide discussion on the feasibility of ePortfolios for
the UO campus. Evaluation, and other project materials, can be found on the project website: