A Holistic Approach to Integrating ePortfolios as Instructional Methods in Online Programs

A Holistic Approach to Integrating ePortfolios as Instructional Methods in Online Programs

Barbara Miller Hall (Northcentral University, USA) and Miranda R. Regnitz (Northcentral University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1622-5.ch012

Abstract

The purpose of this chapter is to review a holistic approach to the integration of digital portfolios (“ePortfolios”) as an instructional method in online degree programs. The chapter reviews the evidence-based best practices that support four phases to the integration of ePortfolios as an instructional method in online degree programs: scaffolding, tutorials, course integration, and student engagement. Each phase offers a different way to make a lasting impact on students. The innovative instructional method is not the portfolio itself, the supporting tutorials, or any one piece of the ePortfolio project. Rather, the true innovation is the project as a whole, taking a holistic look at how portfolios fit into the program and how to support the development and evaluation of the portfolio for both students and faculty.
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Background

A portfolio is a collection of artifacts collated by an individual or group, usually including reflections on those artifacts, which serve to illustrate knowledge, skills, dispositions, and growth. An ePortfolio is a digital version of a traditional portfolio. The use of ePortfolios has been growing for some time. The number of campuses using ePortfolios for program review and assessment of General Education (“GenEd”) those courses required of all students regardless of major area of study tripled between 2009 and 2013 (Eynon, Gambino, & Török, 2014). More than half of college students in the United States reported using an ePortfolio at some time in their collegiate studies (Eynon & Gambino, 2017), and as of a few years ago, 57% of U.S. colleges and universities offered some form of ePortfolio experience (Dahlstrom, 2015). In 2016, based on a decade of accumulated evidence, the Association of American Colleges and Universities named ePortfolios the eleventh high-impact practice (Watson, Kuh, Rhodes, Light, & Chen, 2016).

The literature describes an ePortfolio in several ways. In brief terms, an ePortfolio is “a pedagogical method for connected and integrated learning” (Matthews-DeNatale, 2013, p. 42) and “more of a process, a way of teaching and learning” (Eynon, et al., p. 108). A useful definition from Barrett (2005), who adds that an ePortfolio includes authentic, diverse, and reflective evidence that is representative of a larger body of work created over a period of time and intended “for presentation to one or more audiences for a particular rhetorical purpose” (p. 5). A more extensive definition emerges from Duncan-Pitt and Sutherland (2006) who described an ePortfolio with these contrasts (p. 70):

  • A system that belongs to the learner, not the institution

  • Populated by the learner not their examiner

  • Primarily concerned with supporting learning not assessment

  • For life-long and life-wide learning not a single episode or a single course

  • That allows learners to present multiple stories of learning rather than just a simple aggregation of competencies; and, importantly

  • Where access to them is controlled by the learner who is able to invite feedback to support personal growth and understanding

Key Terms in this Chapter

Portfolio: Collection of artifacts collated by an individual or group, usually including reflections on those artifacts, that serve to illustrate knowledge, skills, dispositions, and growth.

Tutorial: A video or text document that illustrates the steps necessary to complete a specific task.

Chunking: The process of dividing content into brief, focused pieces of text or video often used to provide just-in-time support at the moment of learning need.

LMS: Abbreviation for learning management system, which is usually a collection of software used for the delivery of educational and training modules.

Scaffolding: Support provided before or during a learning endeavor to increase acquisition of knowledge, skills, and dispositions.

ePortfolio: Digital version of a portfolio.

Task Analysis: Analysis of an activity that results in a linear, detailed description of how to perform a task and what knowledge, skills, or dispositions are needed before or during performance of the activity.

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