There’s a frenzy of e-Portfolio related activity in the UK at the moment. I’ve picked out some recent highlights but this list is by no means exhaustive.
The UK Government’s e-strategy, Harnessing Technology outlined a clear commitment to ensuring learners have access to Personal Learning Space (PLS) where they can “store coursework, course resources, results, and achievements…with the potential to support e-portfolios”, available in every school and college by 2007-08. It’s proved to be a popular idea – with many intuitions engaging in research and investigation, and even becoming early adopters of the currently available e-portfolio products. There isn’t currently an agreed definition of PLS or e-portfolio functionality and standards: however, guidelines, ideas and recommendations are fast emerging.
The cynical money is on the provision of little more than storage space for learners to keep documents and files, with options for privacy and sharing - a straightforward, unimaginative solution that fulfils the letter if not the spirit of the governments requirements. Personalisation should be more ambitiously approached – luckily there is vision and the buzz surrounding the topic at the moment, focusing on the idea of Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) – accessible and interoperable institute hosted systems which would not only enable the learner to engage with institutions, projects and individuals, but also provide the ability to accommodate learner selected and preferred technologies – in-system tools or externally hosted services – for example blogs, feeds, and photo sharing programmes.
My advice? If you are investigating e-portfolios at the moment, hold on to your money. The only product I’d currently recommend is the excellent Elgg – a freely available, open source personal learning environment, suitable for use with all ages of learners which has a ton of unique and innovative features (easy podcasting for instance) and many more on the way, including Moodle integration. It’s currently being used worldwide, and is a flagship e-learning product for the UK.
• Becta have just published an introductory guide for schools and colleges: Becta's View: E-assessment and e-portfolios (pdf)
• Four new guidance papers for specific professional groups by Helen Richardson and Rob Ward of the Centre for Recording Achievement (CRA), are now available. These are based on what has emerged as the key framework document for e-Portfolio development in the UK 'Getting what you want: Implementing PDP through e-portfolio'.
• The most recent Association for Learning Technology (ALT) newsletter included An electronic learning curve: implementing ePortfolios by Richard Ingram.
• The e-Framework for Education and Research (a joint initiative of JISC (UK) and DEST (Australia)) Newsletter 2, January-February 2006 is now available and has an e-portfolio update.
• The JISC 'Legal Study to Explore the Legal and Records Management Issues Relating to the Concept of the Lifelong Learner Record' (pdf) has produced a new report which outlines the results of a consultation of selected professional associations on national developments regarding lifelong learner records and e-portfolios. A selection of professional bodies were interviewed about their perceptions of the legal issues relevant to e-portfolios / lifelong learner records; their particular areas of legal concern; benefits they envisage gaining and risks involved in entering into formal co-operation with the education sector in this area.