Agreeing that there are “two camps” when discussing the purpose of E-Portfolios, Process and Product, I decided to investigate the numerous sites dedicated to the process.  More precisely, if reflection is the “heart and soul” of a portfolio, then a closer examination of how portfolios are used as a reflection for learning is required.

John Zubizaretta (2004, 2009), in his insightful books on Learning Portfolios in higher education, describes the primary motive of a learning portfolio: to improve student learning by providing a structure for students to reflect systematically over time on the learning process and to develop the aptitudes, skills and habits that come from critical reflection.” (2004, p.15)

One blog which outlines both process and product is “Stable Transitions” – more specifically the post “41 Benefits of an ePortfolio”The author of this blog does a terrific job of highlighting the benefits of using ePortfolios for reflection.  Moreover, this blog covers a nice range from benefits relating to student, teachers and employers.  

Another informative source of information is Helen C. Barrett’s “Balancing the Two Faces of E-Portfolios“.  This article  clearly articulates the various stages of use for e-Portfolios.  More specifically, Barrett looks at three specific levels:  

Level 1:  Portfolio as Storage/Collection – weekly collection of artifacts; focus on digital conversion.

Level 2:  Portfolio as Workspace/Process – regular collection of artifacts; focus on the process and documentation of learning

Level 3:  Portfolio as Showcase/Product – each semester/end of year; focus on product and documentation of achievement

The enduring understanding of this article is that reflection is the key to electronic portfolios, not technology:

E-Portfolios are essential for 21st Century Literacy because they give students the opportunity to build a positive digital identity and establish their online brand.

Finally, another informative source (of many) and an interesting read is Peter Pappas blog, Copy and Paste.  What stood out for me here is the “Taxonomy of Reflectionpresented by Mr. PappasUsing Bloom’s Taxonomy (revised) as the impetus, Pappas presents the reader an informative four part model of reflection. This “taxonomy” addesses the need for relfection as an institution, administrator, teacher and student.

It clearly does not require students to have a computer to reflect on their learning experiences, but as more and more schools move towards web based portfolios, it’s vital that a clear plan and map be created to help guide the process.  The sites and documents referenced above are a nice place to begin when investigating the “why and how” of e-Portfolios.