ePortfolio: Demonstrating Learning 

Electronic portfolios are quickly replacing traditional notebook portfolios and serving to display student works with the benefits of portability, preservation, and online availability. I work primarily in TaskStream (www.taskstream.com) and therefore use it as the example for discussion on this page.

In the interest of full and ethical disclosure: I have served as a consultant for TaskStream and therefore have had a business relationship. I continue to recommed the web-based portfolio platform because, as I like to tell clients, I chose TaskStream as a vendor before TaskStream chose me as a consultant. I have used the software since 2005, as a professor and an assessment advisor.

I recommend TaskStream's Learching Achievement Tools (LAT) for both undergraduate and graduate programs to demonstrate learning. When featuring course-embedded assessments, the ePortfolio can effectively (and efficiently) serve as evidence of Student Learning Outcomes. These are some of the software features that make the choice of ePortfolio an easy recommendation:

  • Tracking portfolio: Tracking student course work can assist with retention, especially if students enter the platform in their first semester.
  • Exit portfolio: An "exit program" can be used to serve as a capstone project or professional portfolio as the final degree product. Depending on resources, a program might choose to combine the Tracking and Exit Portfolios, although this decision requires considerable up-front planning by the faculty and administration.
  • Online scoring: Academic programs can efficiently score student works through online rubrics, allowing faculty and staff to work anytime, anywhere.
  • Report feature: As TaskStream has developed since the late 1990s, it has continued to build in real-time reporting tools that can be used for both formative and summative assessment. LAT also contains sophisticated built-in options as well as linked options to its Accountability Management System (AMS), which support accreditation-style reporting.
  • Student storage: Loss of course products is a continuing problem, regardless of advances in technology and storage media. Students can use the ePortfolio platform to create their own storage system having, in effect, an online back-up space.
  • Copyright protection and emphasis: Use of online platforms helps to emphasize student ownership and copyright of their course work. Students using TaskStream are able to download their works free of charge several times a year.
  • Embedded discussion: Students can be supported through discussion boards in the ePortfolio platform..
  • Grading options in LAT: Instructors' use of scoring rubrics frequently leads them to use of LAT for course assignments in addition to portfolios. The platform has flexible tools that are not limited to the software's famous starting point, the portfolio.
  • Academic continuity: An unadvertised and little mentioned benefit of any portfolio platform is its ability to serve as a back-up LMS, or learning management system. (This assumes that the platform is separate from the LMS, of course.). While institutions sometimes seek "single source" solutions for instructional purposes, I am a proponent of having multiple platforms so that if one system fails, students nearing end of semester or end of degree can be served.

Also of interest for Undergraduates: College Intern Blog by Dr. Mary Bold

The content on this blog is not offered as legal or educational advice or guidance. Students should consult their college, advisor, or instructor for help with issues surrounding portfolios. © 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. Dr. Bold is a co-author of the book Reflections: Preparing for your Practicum or Internship, geared to college interns in the child, education, and family fields.