Since several faculty use portfolio pedagogy in courses or programs but were not using the digital tools, the ePortfolio Leadership Team wanted to provide opportunities to collaborate and talk about topics we all have in common. There are features of ePortfolios that translate to other types of assignments and coursework. Thus, we focused on professional development topics that would benefit faculty who were not specifically engaged in ePortfolio work. For example, we decided to conduct a PD series on improving rubrics and prompts. These were areas that pertained to all faculty not just those using ePortfolio and therefore we could be more inclusive. Faculty using ePortfolios applied the learning and discussions to our ePortfolio capstone courses, and the other faculty applied the learning to their assignments. Additionally, those faculty were exposed to our ePortfolio projects.
Reflection and Integration:
Our ePortfolio conversations have reinforced that reflection is crucial to making meaning out of assignments, experiences and coursework. Since a major goal is to have students use ePortfolios to support and develop a professional identity, we have increasingly asked them to not only reflect on a single assignment, but more importantly, to reflect on what exists “between” courses or at the end of coursework. This integrative reflection improves the understanding of program coursework and experiences and encourages students to recognize their growth overtime. This also contributes to students’ knowledge that their schooling was not in discrete courses, and supports a student-organized view of learning. In several capstone ePortfolios, students need to reflect on how key assignments align to program standards, which again contributes to a growing self-efficacy in being/becoming a professional educator.
From a program perspective or a capstone perspective, students gather, assess and analyze relevant evidence from coursework. Sometimes the requirements for ePortfolio submissions are very specific, and other times it encourages the student to find his/her own voice. A key piece of the ePortfolio is personalization – whether a photo, images, quotes or philosophy of education – students learn the value of personal ownership of the ePortfolio.
As instructors, we learned to improve our prompts and rubrics to help students dig deeper in their understanding and sharing of knowledge. This has improved the quality of reflective practice and writing, and in turn has contributed to our goals to help students cultivate their own skills, knowledge and dispositions through reflection and to use ePortfolios to support and develop a professional identity. In some programs, the ePortfolio replaced the Master’s Thesis requirements.
Portfolio pedagogy is not unfamiliar to education. But moving to a digital format has afforded us many new and richer opportunities to support and guide student learning as mentioned above. It has also afforded us opportunities for assessment, contributing to national accreditation requirements and analysis of programs.