March 27th, 2013
the eportfolio movement about creating transformation or increments? Do
we value eportfolio implementations that (merely) enhance current
practice? Can the movement be satisfied with slow change? Is any
kind of eportfolio use, as long as the term "eportfolio” is used, good?
are questions I wrestle with. My whole being wants a new world of
learning where all learning designs reflect what we know about how humans
learn. Yet, my whole being is also happy when I hear any story at all
about academic use of eportfolios. But, what if all we end up doing after
many years is just adding another kind of assignment (incrementalism)?
What if eportfolios, in the end, are not any different from LMS’s and, in fact,
the two kinds of applications become one – the "LMSio”(subsumation)?
hear the term "project creep” and I think about "eportoflio creep.” Do
most people think of "eportfolio” the same way as they did 5 years ago?
Is purity slipping?
is about developing learners and transforming institutions. AAEEBL is an
association that is not "of” something but is "for” something – in our case,
authentic, experiential and evidence-based learning. It is an
association geared to support change.
challenge, then, is to "keep our eyes on the prize,” but value whatever
incremental eportfolio uses occur. Increments cannot become the all; nor
am regularly faced with this issue not just in theory but in the moment.
The general concept of "eportfolio” is hot not in the sense of headlines
right now, but in the sense of eportfolios being attractive as a business
venture. In my role as President, I talk with eportfolio providers
and potential providers weekly. The trends are quite fascinating right
companies, one of whom is a new AAEEBL Corporate Affiliate, and another that
may become an AAEEBL Corporate Affiliate, follow what seems to me a new
business model. Both of these companies grew directly out of universities
as graduates of those universities themselves faced the job market and
exquisitely felt the emotions of finding a place in today’s economy. They
are products of the recession job market.
used this first-hand experience to create companies that help students get jobs
through eportfolio technology. Interestingly, the eportfolios are free to
students but access to the eportfolios – companies looking for job candidates –
is limited to companies that pay. Revenue is from the candidate seekers,
not from the candidates. The students, of course, provide access for potential
employers only to their showcase eportfolio. Employers then get to
search a database of student eportfolios to find candidates. (The
eportfolios are fully-instrumented eportfolio platforms to use while in
is not unlike other employment or jobs sites, such as Monster or
LinkedIn. But these two companies do not provide eportfolios to students
in college. It seems to me the genius of these two new eportfolio
companies I'm writing about is their reaching out directly to students on
behalf of companies.
of the companies is Seelio, out of the University of Michigan. Seelio is
a new AAEEBL Corporate Sponsor.
know that all eportfolio providers are focused on employability. In fact,
we recognize that one of the chief values of eportfolios is to meet the demand
that has arisen forcefully in the past few months to "show me evidence of what
you can do.” Seelio is not distinctive in focusing on employability,
then, but they are distinctive in their business model.
the U. S., the eportfolio community rides two horses – learning and
assessment. When AAEEBL has held conferences that include tracks on
employability, we don’t find a great response. But, we should. I am
encouraged to see a new push to advance our community’s interest in
employability. It is also good to see a concrete bridge between students
and employers – beyond internships and temporary employment – to perhaps help
campuses better align learning with the current economy.
to the Terminology
I talk with new potential Corporate Affiliates, I do have to answer for myself,
for AAEEBL and for the potential Corporate Affiliate, the question of whether
that company is offering technology that can benefit learning and
education. For example, another new Corporate Affiliate has a large
Web-hosting business. They are interested in eportfolios?, you
might ask, as I did.
out, they do have a group within the company that has a strong interest in
education and their efforts are in fact to improve learning. BlueHost has
become one of our newest Corporate Affiliates in part so they can understand
the needs of learners better.
same transformative story can be said of many eportfolio providers, as they
themselves modified their business strategy: they may have offered just
an educational tracking system that evolved into an eportfolio system, or just
an assessment platform that added a learning module, or a creative eportfolio
that added an assessment module. Or they may have been a well-known
publisher that saw an opportunity to enter the eportfolio business within the
community they have published for over decades. Or, broadened their market
space to K-12 or from K-12 to higher education.
other words, the concept of "eportfolio” is not abuzz amongst the blogerati,
but it is abuzz among those looking for a good business opportunity.
AAEEBL’s job is to help guide them toward recognition of providing value for
academia and for learners everywhere.
Value of AAEEBL for the ePortfolio Concept
AAEEBL is increasingly known to represent the global eportfolio community,
albeit in collaboration with all other eportfolio initiatives in the world, it
is also increasingly apparent how important our Association is to sustain the
core eportfolio idea.
cannot dictate terminology. But, terminology follows experience. If
all those coming to the eportfolio community learn why eportfolios are valuable
– the core eportfolio idea -- then they themselves will be the guardians of our
terminology. Their experience at eportfolio conferences, at webinars,
through reading publications, and through email and phone and Skype and all the
communication mediums within our community, their experience within this
coherent community will determine terminology.
community, organized around your Association, AAEEBL, has a strong voice.
The eportfolio idea is suddenly very attractive as a business venture. We
now need our Association more than ever, so that the eportfolio idea does not
"fork.” The word "fork” usually refers to open source where the reference
code gets left behind by derivative code and the community goes off in all
directions. The value of collaboration is lost.
can help prevent the forking of the eportfolio concept through our
Association. We are here because of what we see as value for learning and
we are here, all of us, to reinforce each other’s efforts. This works as
long as we are a cohesive community.