The word "eportfolio" has been around since the late 1990s and for a decade was a hyped word. As long as there was a hint that the technology itself would change things on campuses, the word "eportfolio" was a galvanizing term. By 2012 or so, however, the term "eportfolio" seemed passe as the hype cycle had dipped. No longer was the term as captivating as it had been.
But ECAR annual surveys show that adoption rates belie the "passe" assessment: eportfolio adoption since 2010 has in fact made eportfolio now a part of campus landscapes at half of all institutions of higher learning, and nearly all institutions have some kind of deployment of eportfolios. Not only are eportfolios not "passe" but are growing in use while use of LMS has declined slightly.
ePortfolio describes a technology, essentially a learner-owned account in a cloud-based application maintained by a corporation. Most students and faculty experience "eportfolio" as a institutionally-supported system on campus. A very important distinction for "eportfolio" is that students keep their eportfolio with them all through college. The account is not associated with the course but with the learner.
In that technological distinction lies a world of meaning. A technology that is student/learner owned? The possibility of an actual student-centered learning design becomes not only possible but desirable. If the student/learner controls "permissions" to this account, then the grand statement is that the student/learner owns that work. A sense of ownership and continuity from course to course is a deeply significant new learning path for students/learners.
Within that path, that student-owned learning space, not only can the student archive her work, retrieve it and display work on a website for a course, a capstone or a degree, but can work within that space to integrate disparate artifacts of learning experiences of a year or a college career.
ePortfolio alone, the technology, only makes this learner-owned space and individual learning path possible; a whole new learning design is what makes "portfolio learning" possible. ePortfolio is the technology, "portfolio learning" is the pedagogy. This form of learning is not a hype cycle but is a growing trend in higher education. The technolgy -- eportfolio -- has been widely adopted in higher education and portfolio learning curricular designs are following.
This is a very brief description; listen to recordings of AAEEBL webinars on this topic at this page.
More on eportfolios:
ePortfolio is a Common Denominator for the Move From Teaching to Learning
Five major factors (and others) have reinforced the move from teaching to learning in higher education:
1. Knowledge is no longer scarce but abundant (learning to discover sources of knowledge is therefore important)
2. Knowledge is in a period of rapid change (and therefore learning how to learn is most important)
3. The economy demands graduates with a documented record of competency or achievement
4. Learning researchers have suggested that legacy learning designs are not as effective as they need to be for the learner of today
5. Students in higher education are, on average, older than traditional college-age students and their demands and needs tend toward real-world application.
A number of trends in higher education show how educators are responding to these factors:
1. Competency-Based Education (CBE)
2. Accountability and learning outcomes
3. The expectation that students or graduates can show evidence of their abilities.
4. Self-Regulated Learners
5. Self-Directed Learners
6. High-Impact Educational Practices
7. Real-world learning
8. Personalized learning
9. Entrepreneurial learning
10. Work-Integrated learning
11. Self-paced learning
12. Internships and service learning
13. And many other authentic and experiential learning practices
But, behind these trends toward a focus on learning rather than on teaching, is the collection of evidence of learning or of achievement. That evidence is best collected in an eportfolio where the evidence can be curated and selectively displayed on a web site to demonstrate or document a level of competence of achievement.
In other words, the infrastructure behind the move from teaching to learning is eportfolio.