Documentation:CTLT Resources/Selected TL Topics ePortfolios

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e-Portfolios

What is an e-Portfolio?

This can be a source of confusion. Is an e-Portfolio just a resume on steroids? Or is it a conceptual understanding, what is often referred to as “Folio Thinking”? We define e-Portfolios as personalized, web-based collections of work, responses to work and reflections that are used to demonstrate key skills and accomplishments for a variety of contexts and time periods.

Strictly speaking, an e-Portfolio isn’t an e-Portfolio if it doesn’t contain reflections and isn’t shared. But as with most things, when we speak too strictly, we are quickly handed an exception. Indeed, some people have a very-unreflective CV online and they still call it an e-Portfolio. So, what is an e-Portfolio?

The term ‘e-portfolio’ can be used to refer to any of these things (and more):

  • a website that features your teaching philosophy and CV, or
  • a collection of your work and reflections on that work that you keep on your computer at home, or
  • a site, like iWebFolio, that allows you to share feedback and e-Portfolios with a network of people.

Your e-Portfolio could be a showcase or a private area of reflection. But e-Portfolios can be much more than just 21st century resumes; they’re opportunities to build community, and improve and reflect on your practice.

What is a teaching e-Portfolio?

A teaching e-Portfolio is a collection of your best work as an instructor, and will often include items like:

  • Your teaching philosophy
  • A list of courses taught, with numbers of students, etc.
  • Lesson plans
  • Awards you’ve received

In other words, it has some similarities with UBC CV, in that it does showcase your training, accomplishments and skills, but is more personal, more professional- and personal-growth oriented. Again examples are worth a thousand words. You may also find Teaching Portfolio Preparation Guide useful.

Who would use one?

Anyone who is interested in reflecting on their teaching with the aim of becoming a better teacher. It may also be useful for those seeking promotion or tenure; it is always important to show what you are doing to improve your teaching.

How can I get started?

Send a message to Lucas Wright at lucas.wright@ubc.ca and he can discuss with you possible approaches and tool options. You can also attend an e-Portfolio seminar regularly offered by CTLT for an idea of the scope of an e-Portfolio, and some suggestions about how to start collecting and sorting your artifacts.

What are the advantages/disadvantages of an e-Portfolio compared to a paper-based portfolio?

The advantages of an e-Portfolio are generally considered to be:

  • portability – you can access it from anywhere, unlike an often-sizeable paper copy
  • media-richness – the ability to easily include graphics, audio, video and so on
  • ease of repurposing – you can easily create several versions of your e-Portfolio for several different audiences
  • control of access – you control who sees it, and for how long
  • organizational ability – e-Portfolios are great for organizing a large amount of information, and keeping it all in one place

The disadvantage of a some ‘template-based’ systems (such as iWebFolio 2.0) is:

  • lack of customizability – the style can be rigid and difficult to customize

The disadvantages of a teaching e-Portfolios in general are:

  • possible lack of acceptance as promotional tool – your department may not know much about or accept a teaching e-Portfolio as part of a tenure/promotion process, although this is changing as more people learn about e-portfolios
  • lack of printability – yes, you can print from most applications , and it looks acceptable, but it isn’t as easy as it should be, and MS Word still does it better

We’re not suggesting that you should or should not create a teaching e-portfolio. That’s up to you. Yes, it’s a commitment, but the reward is, we believe, a tool for improving your teaching. If you’re curious, send a message to lucas.wright@ubc.ca.

Can someone steal my work?

In a word, yes. But that is true of almost all web-based material. Someone can steal Microsoft’s work, too. So, as with anything on the web, if you’re especially concerned about copyright or malicious manipulation, you can either a) stick to Canada Post and carrier pigeons, b) learn some JavaScript, or c) do the following:

  • if you’re using WordPress, you can set the access permissions for the people you share your e-Portfolio with, and
  • make sure you share your e-Portfolio with people you can trust.

We haven’t heard of any examples of malicious use of e-Portfolios so far, so it’s likely you’ll be okay.

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