Friday, 11 September 2009

ePortfolios... not sure!

I've never really tried to use an eportfolio before. We were vaguely encouraged to do a learning needs analysis when I started my PhD, and apparently we were supposed to do a personal development plan too, but it wasn't compulsory, wasn't supported by my supervisor, and wasn't followed up. I felt I knew my aims and goals and didn't need a formal discussion, though no doubt I would actually have benefited from the process.

Now I'm still unsure that I want to keep an eportfolio - or why I'd want to. I can't imagine using it in my career, but maybe that's because employers haven't caught up and don't demand to see portfolio evidence. I'd be very interested to know what employers and recruiters think of portfolios - do they really use them in graduate recruitment, do they see any value when recruiting people who are in their second, third or subsequent roles, do they actually offer the evidence they need? Maybe we'll see in some of the upcoming course reading.

I'm a bit hesitant about keeping one for my own learning development now. It seems to require a considerable effort in selecting and compiling artefacts, though perhaps this is a good thing as it leads to reflection. I can see that less motivated students might not bother if the process isn't compulsory and it just seems to add to their workload.

My other hesitation is about the portfolio's persistence. I want to keep progressing and improving. I don't want my skills and attainment records of old to be visible, out there. And once you've exported it and distributed it, it is out there, and people will hold on to it even after you've updated your portfolio and distributed new versions to other people. This is the case with much electronic data - a problem of rapid redundancy, but when the aim of putting a public profile out there is to 'sell yourself' I'm worried about it being public. Sharing within the academic environment is one thing - and it's great for collaboration, sharing with tutors and assessors etc. But I still worry about the persistence of what's there. Maybe a (partial) solution for me would be to distribute a URL which points to my current profile. That way, by not distributing a package which will become redundant, I have more control over what is seen.

However, on the flip side, what if I want my portfolio to persist, to be accessible in five years time. Will the eportfolio provider still be around, will my account still exist, will I have forgotten my login credentials? I'd still feel the need to keep a backup of my own work, and this will mean that there will have to be a way of translating the eportfolio content and structure into some standard representation (xml?, html?, Word?) that can be reused in the future.  

I still feel like I'm missing something about eportfolios. Lots of people are excited about their use, and about transforming learning through the use of eportfolios, so there seems to be something I'm not getting. Lots more reading to come in the next week, so we'll see what I'll find, and hopefully I'll be more convinced and understand what I'm missing!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Alice

    You are asking the right questions about e-portfolios. We are still learning how to use them effectively. It is a real challenge to turn their potential into reality.

    Enjoying your reflections

    Best Wishes