Monday, December 01, 2008

ePortfolios for Learning

As part of my university's LMS investigations, we are also looking at eportfolio software.
I recently had a look at Mahara and was very impressed with its functionality.
You can develop your own eportfolio on their Demo site.

Mahara is open source code and offers users the ability to progressively add artifacts and evidence with the opportunity to provide customised views to those you wish to see your work.

Very cool and well developed--get yourself an account and try it out.


Royce Robertson said...

If you are looking for an ePortfolio tool that is highly scalable, has powerful templates, includes robust assessment tools, and can create aggregated reports, then I would seriously consider iWebfolio. or

Ray Tolley said...

Ah, Scott!

This is the old chestnut about who SHOULD be developing e-Portfolios and why. As long as universities have the power to research, publish and teach almost exclusively for their own benefit we create a silo effect that blocks all other users from exploring the product.

However, if you believe that an e-Portfolio is an 'all-age' too, as I say 'from 5 to 95' or as the Americans say, 'from K to grey' then we must consider the e-Portfolio from a different standpoint.

My initial research, almost two years ago, came up with a set of criteria that any e-Portfolio should meet. Unfortuanately, none of the packages available met my criteria!

You can see these criteria at:

Too many young techers discover an almost impossible barrier when it comes to using an open source product as the basis for a school's e-Portfolio. Yes, it can be done with small groups and possibly the 'gifted and talented' students. But what about providing an e-Portfolio as a whole-school application? Who would maintain it, upgrade it and provide induction support?

As you may gather, I do not see Mahara as meeting the abilities of the 5 or 7yr old nor the less-able teenager, nor those unable to find a job or 'granny'.

The learning curve of Open Source software prevents the vast majority, and probably the more needy, of availaing themselves of such a facility. The logic, therefore is that all different ability levels should have different products tailored to their requirements. This would be ineffectual both in terms of support costs and also portability.

Those academics who choose to develop an inward-looking e-Portfolio culture are in a serious minority of the population and should feel a moral responsibility to ensure that each nation develops and provides a solution equally available to all, without discrimination. [Apologies for the 'strong' stuff!]

I have recently written briefly on 'The new Digital Divide' on my blog at:

or you can see more of my thinking (admittedly from a UK perspective) at:

Kindest Regards,
Ray T.

Scot said...

Hi Ray,

The fact that these comments have come so quickly is an indication that many have a real interest and feel great ownership in eportfolios.

In many ways I agree with some of your comments regarding closed university-based eportfolio tools and the privileged position Unis find themselves as sometimes well-funded self-accrediting bodies.

I cannot concur, however, with comments regarding the usability of Mahara. My trials have shown that the software is very easy to use for a wide range of ages. In Australian schools our students and more likely to be ICT savvy than many of our teachers--what Prensky describes as digital natives.

The real issue for me is about how we support our students after they have left our organisation--I think that this was one of your points also. The cost of maintaining lifetimes of data is high, even with the reduction of the cost per MB.
As a business case I would be encouraging the organisation to see this as a marketing alumni opportunity rather than a just a cost centre.
There are still issues around the length of time the graduates' data is stored and intellectual property ownership. In my view these are big questions that require courageous solutions.
Perhaps this needs to be a global solution rather than an organisational one? Wikipedia maintain massive amounts of data that is rapidly increasing and their model appears to be sustainable?

From a philosophical point of view, I do agree with many of your comments and I too believe that students be encouraged from an early age to document their life journeys using eportfolio tools that allow them to provide specific "Views" for those they invite into their virtual world. Different views for employers, family, friends, parents, children to mention a few.

It’s a tough area to be playing around in, but worthwhile.

Thanks for your comment and I'll have a look at your Blog as soon as I can.



VRBones said...

Another one to look at is PebblePAD. I was originally looking at it from a PLE framework perspective, but it's more useful / used as an ePortfolio system.