ePortfolios are invaluable tools for students’ development and their transition into the working world after graduation. The use of ePortfolios continues to climb, as does the number of ways to use ePortfolios. This article provides an overview of what ePortfolios are, how they benefit students, faculty members, and employers, and ePortfolio examples from schools across the country.
What Is An ePortfolio?
An ePortfolio is a digital portfolio or an “electronic portfolio.” This digital collection of achievements and artifacts represent the competencies, skills and accomplishments of a student.
These materials can include a variety of resources such as:
- Essays or Articles
- Graphics or Flyers
- Written Reflections or Journal Entries
- Certificates, Awards or Digital Badges
- Slide Decks, Presentations or Projects
Depending on the purpose of the ePortfolio, the student often makes his or her work widely available and then shares it with instructors, fellow students or potential employers. An ePortfolio is a window into an individual’s past, present and future that showcases his or her lifelong learning and a commitment to continued improvement.
Who Uses ePortfolios?
The use of ePortfolios has expanded to most of the education and professional world. This ranges from K–12 education to undergraduate and graduate programs, all the way up to professionals in corporate training and employment mobility programs. The earlier the use of ePortfolios begins, the more substantial their effects can be.
ePortfolios are useful across a variety of disciplines, not just traditionally visually oriented ones like studio art. For example, business programs value the reflection and self-regulated learning aspects of a well-maintained portfolio, and portfolios give students the opportunity to represent their personal and professional growth beyond traditional academic systems (Morales & Soler-Dominguez, 2016).
Likewise, nursing programs value competency-based assessments that provide proof of understanding, as well as showing links between theory and practice based on experience and demonstrable skills (Garrett, MacPhee, & Jackson, 2013).
And, with different types of portfolios, educators and employers can each employ portfolio assignments for different uses, ranging from:
- Corporate licenses
- Upskilling / promotions
- Freelance work
- Assessment of learning
Check out our breakdown of the different types types of ePortfolios and which types work best for the use cases above.
Types of ePortfolios
Suitable partner Clemson University categorizes portfolios into three main types:
1. Showcase portfolio
What is it?
A showcase portfolio is a place for students or professionals to demonstrate their skills using a variety of created artifacts. The most common example of a showcase portfolio is for creatives to showcase art, design or communication skills through tangible representations of these skills, including digital art, video, writing samples and more.
How is it used?
The most common usage of a showcase portfolio is to allow students and professionals to show prospective employers what they are capable of as they compete for jobs, promotions or freelance opportunities.
2. Learning portfolio
What is it?
Sometimes known as a process portfolio, a learning portfolio demonstrates the learning process as its happening, with a focus on feedback. Students demonstrate effort, progress, achievements and competencies gained as a course or program is happening through delivery of certain collected works they’ve created. These can include anything from group project materials to spreadsheets to videos to personal reflections.
How is it used?
Students populate learning portfolios to gain feedback on their work, show their progress and demonstrate that necessary learning has occurred. Educators use these examples of ePortfolios as a way of evaluating student progress and as a repository for students to see the progress they’ve achieved in their time in the course or program.
3. Assessment portfolio
What is it?
Like a learning portfolio, the assessment portfolio helps educators identify that certain skill acquisition and learning has occurred. However, an assessment portfolio is specifically designed to help students showcase their knowledge based on certain standards or topics once a course or curriculum has been completed. This portfolio is often more formal, based on set benchmarks or deliverables.
How is it used?
Some examples of ePortfolios used in assessment are as a part of final projects for Masters programs or as part of the admissions process for certain Masters degree programs. Another use case is using assessment portfolios as part of an application for a scholarship. Assessment portfolios are also used in certain upskilling or licensure processes in the workforce, where the submitter can showcase their grasp of certain critical functions of the job or license they want to achieve by sharing previous work they’ve done.
What’s In An ePortfolio?
An ePortfolio may contain all or some of the following:
- Various file types (text, pictures, video, etc.).
- Writing samples.
- Class projects.
- Evidence of involvement in co-curricular activities, especially those that show progress or leadership.
- Reflections on classroom or co-curricular activities, especially those that show growth over time.
- Evaluations, analysis and recommendations.
As for the creation of an ePortfolio, there are several platforms students and educational institutions can use to quickly create a destination for these key materials.
Many universities use sites like Wix or Squarespace to quickly create a small website to host ePortfolio materials. These sites use prefabricated templates, user-friendly interfaces and discounted introductory hosting so students and educators can get everything they need–from custom domain names to mobile-optimized navigation to image and video hosting–all from one platform.
There are several upsides to this solution, including speed and some out-of-the-box design features that allow students to express their individuality without much previous web creation experience. However, some schools have highlighted the costs associated with this route–most custom domains on these sites have an annual fee attached and, even with basic plans, there are often fees that can result.
Student portal on a school’s website
If you are looking to simply share portfolio items internally (learning or assessment portfolios for specific classes, for example), your school’s website may be able to handle this. Some schools create student-specific portals for each student to use. These portals allow students to log in and save materials to a folder that is hosted on the school’s server.
This approach allows schools to have full control over everything from security to cost, and requires almost zero onboarding to learn how to use.
Unfortunately, this approach makes it difficult to share student work with potential employers or networking contacts outside of campus.
The Suitable ePortfolio
As part of the Suitable co-curricular transcript, we’ve included an ePortfolio solution, allowing students to upload any evidence of their progression at your university straight from the Suitable app. This includes files, video, audio, spreadsheets and more. You can also add tasks completed as part of your Suitable program–including reflections, group project submissions and event attendance.
Having ePortfolio submissions right alongside the rest of your Suitable program seamlessly makes creation of an ePortfolio a part of any program’s completion, without the need for learning a new system or designing a new website.
And of course students can decide which entries to their ePortfolios will be kept private and which will be shared publicly from their personalized share links.
Here are just a few student portfolio examples we’ve collected to showcase the different types of ePortfolios your students can create to further their educational and professional goals.
Learning / Process Portfolios:
For more information, check out our Co-Curricular Transcript product showcase event, where we give a step-by-step demo of the Suitable ePortfolio solution.