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ePortfolio Initiatives at Virginia Tech
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Philosophy

The ePortfolio Team

We are here to serve the university and its constituents in a number of facets. We strive to provide materials that can aid academic departments in assessment and accredication activites. We aim to provide instructors with materials to highlight coursework and provide a framework to collect and archive artifacts of student work. We seek to provide eportfolio materials that allow students to showcase their work and themselves as life-long learners.

 Why portfolios?

We believe that portfolios are a multi-phased process. A common way of putting it in portfolio terms is collecting, reflecting, selecting, and connecting. Of course, those terms are intentionally vague, because different portfolios handle them in different ways. Consider these two basic models of common portfolios:

  • a "teaching" portfolio
    • In this type of portfolio, teachers collect materials that they have created for educational purposes, such as syllabi, assignments, even commentary on student work. They sometimes are asked to reflect on their teaching philosophy and how these items represent their teaching goals. As they select key pieces to reflect upon, they often have a specific audience that is interested in these materials. Many times, school administrators or graduate school qualifications ask for teachers to demonstrate teaching ability for certification purposes.
  • a "resume" portfolio
    • In this type of portfolio, users put together a selection of material that best represents key skills. Note that the collection and reflection processes are still present, but not the primary goal. Typical resume portfolios focus more on connection phase. The audience, such as a graduate school or professional company, is interested in how the selected items represent the candidate they are considering. A good specific example of this might be a portfolio of graphic designs that a person had created, which would be used to apply for school or a job in graphic design.

 What is "folio thinking"?

What do the two models above share in common? The process of portfolios. Portfolios imply more than the collection of items contained within them. They imply an entire process that begins with the individual creating work and ends when several pieces of that work is shared with an audience. We call that process "folio thinking."

For educational purposes, which is our primary interest at Virginia Tech, "folio thinking" has great benefits for student learning, including:

  1. Increasing a student's ability to self-assess learning outcomes
  2. Encouraging a continual process of collecting work and reflecting on how that work connects to previous work in new and interesting ways
  3. Increasing the ability for a department or program to organize direct evidence of learning

 Why e-portfolios?

The addition of proven learning technologies to folio thinking allows portfolio creators to take advantage of

  1. Easy storage, selection, reflection, and secure sharing possibilites
  2. Ability to show multidimensional aspects of a person with video, audio, graphic, as well as traditional textual formats

The customizable, flexible formatting users can employ with the ePortfolio tools, integrated with Scholar's collaborative course and project sites, make ePortfolios a natural place for

  1. Students looking to demonstrate their abilities to course teachers, program advisors, or application committees
  2. Faculty looking to collect work from a long or complex process
  3. Faculty looking to emphasize processes of learning in their courses
  4. Administrators and curricular committees looking to collect evidence and examples of student learning for either program development or external accreditation

If you have any questions about how ePortfolios@VT can help meet your educational needs, contact us.