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The notion of an ePortfolio is currently in vogue, and seen as potentially representing a solution to the assessment problem. However, what people mean by an ePortfolio varies considerably - and often simply means an electronic collection of work (which let's face it does not capture the power of portfolios of the kind that have been used by art teachers for years).

The QCA clearly view ePortfolios as being important - part of their vision for future e-assessment includes that by 2009 "all awarding bodies should be set up to accept and assess e-portfolios" (QCA http://qca.org.uk/7192.html, viewed 2nd May 05).

I'd argue that there are three components that are needed in an ePortfolio system:

  • a repository - somewhere you can keep stuff (which is private)
  • one or more 'projects' - these are collections of things that are being assessed and can be seen by you and the person/people who are doing the assessment
  • one or more 're-presentations' of your work (ePassports - equivalent to your CV) - which present particular views of you as a learner for particular audiences (the key being that you can choose how you want to represent yourself to these different audiences)

The killer questions are ones about who owns and controls the stuff in your ePortfolio - including who controls who can access the different bits of it.

Useful links

eDoc, an electronic portfolio system
eDoc is being developed at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, USA. This site provides more info about eDoc, including links to a demo site where you can try out different types of electronic portfolios developed under eDoc, publications on the eDoc project, and a link (under Publications) to eDoc discussions on ISU Wiki - a collaborative web site. If the site doesn’t answer all your questions then the eDoc strategic team have said that you should feel free to contact the them at citedoc@iastate.edu.