Electronic portfolios (e-Portfolios) consist of set of digital objects capable of expressing ideas, information, arguments and documentation in graphic, text, audio and video formats, These can be tagged, searched, archived, syndicated and displayed in multiple formats. E-portfolios create the opportunity for peer, instructor or general public feedback and commentary and can be an effective tool for reflection on practice. Abrami and Barrett (2005) argue that e-Portfolios may even scaffold attempts at knowledge construction.
While an extensive body of research exists on the uses of e-portfolios (e.g., Abrami & Barrett, 2005; Abrami et al. 2008; Ayala, 2006; Brandes, 2008; Crichten & Kopp, 2008; Foti & Ring, 2008), the use of this technology in adult education and, especially, graduate-level education, has received comparably little attention (Butler, 2006). Moreover, the use of an e-portfolio for the final assessment activity of an online graduate program is a unique application of this technology.
This paper will discuss and illustrate how digital media can and have been used in the context of both a Masters in Education and professional development contexts to promote experiential learning, critical reflection (Pitts & Rugirello, 2012), transition from learning to practice (Cross, 2012), community cohesion (Ehiyazaryan_White, 2012) and lifelong learning in distance and open education (Batson, 2011). The mixed method on-going longitudinal study presented here reports on the usage of and reactions to the introduction of an e-portfolio as the culminating assessment activity in a Masters in Education program from 2008-2013. Results of a survey of student reactions, perceptions and recommendations will be presented, supplemented by analyses of student documents and recorded student discussions as well as interviews with faculty members.
The paper will conclude with guidelines and recommendations emerging from the study to date and a discussion of sometimes conflicting expectations and purposes of e-portfolios, assessment of e-portfolios, and the extension of e-portfolios into professional development in contexts outside of the university.