Tag Archives: ePortfolios

ePortfolios as high impact practices

George Kuh added eportfolios earlier this year as the 11th high impact practice.


In this video, Kuh (2016) identifies various elements of effective integration of eportfolios:

  • More than electronic record keeping tool
  • Longitudinal projects allowing students to store authentic work
  • Allows students to question their own work, in company of lecturers and other students
  • Allows students to invite peers, lecturers and even employers to look into their electronic toolboxes
  • Repository where students can see how far they came, how they developed and how they have changed
  • Others can see how far they came, developed and how they have changed
  • Ongoing process of reflection, integration, and digestion IF it is well-designed and structured
  • Every student in every field can benefit from having such a representation of their  work, development and growth
  • Reflection is most important since it deepens learning and knowing about what the student can do.

Although he does not pertinently state it, he identified two of the three cornerstones of a learning oriented approach to assessment, namely that:

  • learning tasks be designed
  • self and peers be involved in the assessment process

He did not state the importance of prompt feedback, but he did name the role of reflection on own work.


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Meaningful integration of eportfolios in distance education.

I have asked one of my students to create a video, reflecting on her eportfolio.

Based on Vicki’s reflection on her eportfolio, eportfolios are high impact educational practices. In July 2016, eportfolios were added as an 11th high impact practice recognised by the American Association of Colleges and Universities. However, not all eportfolios can be regarded as high-impact practices. I have developed the following learning-oriented framework for integrating eportfolios in a post-graduation module in distance education (see Figure).


The framework is described in two recently published papers, namely:

van Staden, C.J. 2016. ‘n Leergeoriënteerde raamwerk vir eportefeuljeontwikkeling in afstandonderwys. Suid-Afrikaanse Tydskrif vir Natuurwetenskap en Tegnologie, 35(1), online version.

Van Staden, C.J. 2016. A learning-oriented framework for integrating eportfolios in a post-graduate module in distance education. AAEEBL ePortfolio Review, volume 1(1), pp. 36-52.

ePortfolios in ODeL settings

During my year at Unisa as post-doctoral fellow, I was asked to assist with one of the post-graduate modules until a new lecturer could be appointed since the previous lecturer passed away. This temporarily arrangement took up 10 months of the year.
During that time, I was responsible for the 2014 group, who wrote formal examinations, and the implementation of eportfolios (2015 cohort).

I have designed a Learning-oriented approach to integrate eportfolios into the curriculum and guided the students through the first five months of the year. The new lecturer took over end of May 2015. I believed it would be a mammoth task in distance education, therefore I created various extra learning opportunities.

I did not complete the journey formally, but informally I have acted as mentor for the students who contacted me for assistance and guidance until final submission. After graduation, one student shared her eportfolios with me and it was heart warming to see how the framework guided her towards compiling an eportfolio that can be regarded as a high impact practice. So, I have asked her to make a video-clip taking us through with her while she reflects on her eportfolio. In the email she wrote:

I hope it doesn’t sound boastful, but I feel proud of my portfolio. Last year, I was a bit tired of everything by the end. But after looking at it with fresh eyes, I can see that I came a long way. My first assignments were a lot weaker than the improved versions. I don’t think about old essays as much once they’re done, but with the eportfolio I reflect, revise, and improve at every step.

After watching the video, I realised that this amazing learning journey need to be shared. That open distance higher education can take a leading role in higher education if our graduates can walk away like this student. No examination can do justice to the learning that happened while she compiled her eportfolio. I love her closing remarks.

Comparison between e-portfolio systems

I have tested a few e-portfolio systems. Based on my own idea of an effective e-portfolio system, the following structures was used to create sample e-portfolios.

  • Home page – or brag pag
  • About me – if needed
  • Add videos – ease of use
  • Add text and images – ease of use
  • Add tables – possible?
  • Add links and documents – link to document? or PDF can be read online in space
  • Add sections – add sections to pages / portfolios
  • Add mathematical symbols – for maths
  • Add slide show – possibilities
  • Extras – listed on one page with links to the extras – what extras are available on one page.

The following systems were used to create e-portfolios;

  • rCampus
  • Digication
  • Mahara
  • Pebblepad
  • Karuta
  • Taskstream
  • Chalk and Wire

My examples

r-Campus Mahara Chalk & Wire Pebblepad Task-


Licence/host Licence, host and cloud options Self-hosting Hosted Hosted option Hosted option
Pricing Cost organisation

Cost Students

FREE 22$, down to 12$ depending on amount of students that will use e-portfolios 20 pounds individual accounts

10 pounds / 1000 (bulk option)

20$-42$per student, staff FREE


Does not matter Big difference 1 hour after us No big difference
Assessment Rubrics Rubrics Rubrics


SIS Public API


Please check

Graded assessment

Blind assessment

Double blind assessment

Rubric assessment

Reporting comprehensive

Quick monitoring

LMS Integrated LMS Moodle


Sakai (?)

Integrate with LMs Integrates with Sakai Integrated LMS
Features See example See example See example See example

Templated for all extras

Can create own

See example
Support Have not contacted them Community I struggled to get access, their support people reacts quickly Best I have encountered

Interactive short videos for every feature

Quick responses

Free – include student support, institution does not have to worry about support
Turnitin No No YES YES No
Personalise Not free version Limited Yes Various options Various options
Comments Not in Portfolio Each page of ePortfolio Yes Side of pages

Comments on request, can switch off

Not in ePortfolio
Collaboration Discussions






Discussions Groups
Sharing Yes, via email as well Yes, via secure links as well Yes Via email


For assessment

Yes, via link as well
Workbook/easy e-portfolios None None None Can be created to guide the students throughout the year

Assessment easy and can follow their journey

Graded and rubric assessment

Afterwards Lifelong, can be free Can download Can be renewed Keep for life, free of charge, can edit afterwards
Feedback Rubrics Rubrics


Yes Comments

Feedback forms



More examples Chemistry


Examples Example Examples for a university shared with me

Kameron Giacchero

Kathryn Guertin-Davis

Cheri Boteilho

Sonja Taylor

Emily Ford

Demo Have not requested No On request to showcase assessment tools On request

To demonstrate the assessment tools as well

On request

To demonstrate the assessment tools as well

Overall Difficult to add images, have to Not for assessment and grading Assessment tool Assessment tool Assessment tool
Contact details None None Geoff Irvine Dr. John Couperthwaite

Ben Coulter

All systems could be used to create structured, multi-page e-portfolios. There are a number of important points to note, based on the review of the above systems:

  • Some e-portfolios only allow the sharing of links to videos, while others can be used to embed videos to create effective multimedia presentations.
  • The drag-and-drop functions of Mahara and Pebblepad provide an easy method to upload multimedia.
  • Mahara allows for comments on each page of an e-portfolio, a feature that can assist collaboration and assessment in various ways.
  • All systems could be used to create structured, multi-page e-portfolios, therefore it is suggested that the academics evaluate each of the systems based on their own requirements in order to identify an e-portfolio system to be implemented.

I have not tested the assessment tools since it is not possible if I am not an institution. However, Pebblepad, Taskstream and Chalk & Wire offer online demonstrations. I found it extremely worthwhile, therefore, I can recommend asking for online demonstrations.

The quality of the final products varied since not all of them can be regarded as multi-media presentations. Therefore, it is recommended that the final choice should not be based purely on assessment tools, but also on the quality of the multi-media presentations created to showcase achievement towards both subject specific outcomes and the critical cross-field outcomes all South African higher education should aspire to.



Integrating ePortfolios to develop learning strategies in ODeL settings

In trying to move away from once-off summative assessment, the University of South Africa decided to integrate ePortfolios as method for alternative assessment. In my presentation yesterday at the Siyaphumelela Conference of the South African Institute for Distance Education, I discussed my views on how ePortfolios can be integrated from a learning-oriented perspective on assessment.

Screen Shot 2016-07-01 at 7.28.58 AM

When ePortfolios are integrated from a learning-oriented approach, lecturers, assessors and reviewers are provided with opportunities to assess and evaluate achievement towards the seven Critical Crossfield Outcomes that should guide all learning at South African institutes for higher education. For the purpose of this discussion, I have identified the following abilities or competencies that need to be developed.

Screen Shot 2016-07-01 at 7.50.00 AM

These seven abilities are also regarded as crucial skills to be effective in 21st century working environments. From a learning-oriented perspective, once-off assessment of assignments is not enough. Feedback should be efficient and enough to allow students to improve their evidence. When ePortfolios are introduced, students can be provided with several opportunities to portray their level of achievement towards the seven competencies, but they can also be provided with multiple opportunities to portray their achievement towards the five Developmental Outcomes that should also guide all teaching and learning at South African institutes for Higher Education.

Screen Shot 2016-07-01 at 7.53.56 AM

The state do not need of higher education to grade students as 50%’ers or a 89%’ers, but to develop confident citizens who can be effective in the 21st century work place. Therefore, I have identified the following learning strategies I believe to be important when I was responsible for a module that was earmarked for integrating ePortfolios as method for alternative assessment at the University of South Africa.

Screen Shot 2016-07-01 at 8.27.30 AM


The strategies are, however, by no means exhaustive. Some of them emerged due to new technologies being developed. Others might emerge due to new technologies being developed while I am writing this report. From a learning-oriented approach to assessment, students have to be provided with opportunities to assess the work produced by their peers. Therefore, I regarded it as important to give them opportunities to learn from one another.

The state requires of higher education to develop effective group workers (Critical Crossfield Outcome) who are sensitive across a range of social contexts (Developmental Outcome), outcomes difficult to assess and evaluate during distance education. Therefore, I required of my students to use my own social networking site, where I can guarantee privacy, to support the development of an online Community of Practice. Various learning strategies can be used to learn from one another, such as networked learning.

The efficiency of networked learning will however be influenced by three types of learners, namely individualistic, competitive and cooperative learners. Individual and competitive learners do not find value in group work. Therefore, it was important to develop cooperative learners.

Screen Shot 2016-07-01 at 8.48.19 AM

ePortfolios can be used to create an informal place where students can learn from one another. However, students often do not use it effectively due to the perception that they are being graded in formal learning spaces. In fact, they are often required to take part five times in a conversation to get 5 marks for group participation. I needed them to experience the value of networked and cooperative learning, while they develop sensitivity across social contexts, therefore they were randomly grouped in cooperative base groups.

Cooperative base groups is a small group technique used to develop cooperative learners. Students are assigned to such a group for the duration of the module and they have only three tasks:

Screen Shot 2016-07-01 at 8.54.29 AM

ePortfolios can also support small groups, but I assumed that the students would not use it effectively due to the formality of such a group. Therefore I have also opened my own, privately owned social networking site to give them opportunities to develop into cooperative learners. I assumed that it will also give them informal, incidental and passive learning opportunities. This provided them with networked learning opportunities.

[will upload network as soon as I have completed data analysis]

Within the first month, the students were embedded in a dense network, that could offer opportunities to get access to a shared knowledge base with regard to the development of ePortfolios. However, some of the students perceived the use of many technologies as overwhelming. Therefore, one of them created a Whatsapp group where they could learn from one another.

[will upload network as soon as I have completed data analysis]

As in the case of the social networking site, it provided opportunities for using networked learning skills to get access to the shared knowledge base. Based on my experience while I was their primary lecturer during the first three months of the year, I believe ePortfolios can support higher education in developing lifelong learners who can enter the workplace confidently.

Please feel free to comment, or contact me if you would like to introduce ePortfolios in your institution. You can also click on the green button at the bottom of this page to be updated.

PebblePad e-portfolio system

PebblePad provides a personal learning space used by learners, teachers and assessors.


With regard to higher education, PebblePad advertises itself as a trusted system used for:

  • personalised feedback
  • advanced assessment
  • versatile
  • external assessors
  • simple licensing
  • lifelong learning learning without limited
  • flexible eportfolios


Features include:

  • interactive workbook
  • customisable templates
  • e-portfolio design tools
  • in-build frameworks
  • activity logs and collections
  • external services

It supports LTI and of the shelf integration with blackboard and Moodle and can connect with existing information systems.

Tools for assessment include:

  • auto-submission
  • reporting and analytics
  • feedback collections
  • flexible permissions
  • grading and archiving
  • collaboration

Tools for tutoring, mentoring and coaching include:

  • milestones & pathways
  • feedback aggregation
  • notifications & alerts
  • grade aggregation
  • templates and workbooks
  • reporting

After graduation, the e-portfolio can be moved to a free personal learning space to support learning without limits:

  • e-portfolio design tools
  • in-built frameworks
  • customisable
  • CV builder
  • secure

Personal accounts are also available at a cost (20 pounds p/a, 45 per three years hosting:

  • framework to support development
  • connect to Dropbox, Google Drive and Onedrive accounts
  • email support
  • secure, personalised learning space
  • create, share and publish portfolios freely
  • storage for uploaded files
  • upgrades when PebblePad upgrades

I will test this system as soon as I got feedback from them, they said they will provide feedback within the next 24-48 hours, so let us see what happens.

According to them they host more than 5.4 million learning assets currently. Case studies of Universities using PebblePad include:



  • Based on the case studies, we need to know if it will be able to support large groups of students.
  • A letter found on the website indicating that various features have been removed between versions (such as badges) and a problem with features that cannot be used in newer versions.



Rcampus e-portfolios: Student’s perspective

Rcampus provides various options for e-portfolio usage.

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 9.55.10 AM

Three types of solutions are provided.

The limited solution is free of charge, and the following are included:

  • one showcasing e-portfolio consisting of 5 pages with basic slides.

The advanced solution costs $25 per year. It can become expensive, but it includes:

  • the opportunity to build unlimited learning and assessment e-portfolios with 30 pages per e-portfolio and advanced sliding tiles.
  •  structured matrices
  • guided learning
  • multiple evaluators
  • self- and peer assessment
  • rubric assessment
  • performance monitoring

The pricing for the enterprise solution need to be discussed with them. This solution includes all features mentioned under advanced option but add the following affordances:

  • standards and outcomes management systems
  • integration with SIS and other systems
  • institutional administration

Creating a free version

Creating a free version was quite easy. After signing up as an individual student and confirming my email address, I could log in. To create an e-portfolio, you click on ePortfolios, then on Build, and the you complete the form.

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 10.03.57 AM


My example

I have used Test 101 (title) and test101 (Access code). The code can be shared with others who need access to the -e-portfolio.

I got the message that the e-portfolio was created successfully and that it was available an the web address was provided. The following information was also provided.

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 10.10.47 AM


Build Your Home page

When I clicked on Build your home page, I was taken to this page.

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 10.13.24 AM

The parts of the page that could be edited were clearly indicated ( see red comment blocks). Instructions and tutorials were available ( see the previous figure). Please note that the layout of the free solution cannot be changed and tiles cannot be deleted or added.

Ease of editing menus

The top and side menus can be easily modified after clicking on ‘edit menus’. The top menu allows visitors to access other areas of Rcampus without leaving the webpage (e-portfolio).

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 10.24.43 AM

General options include access to:

  • e-Portfolio home
  • classroom
  • eCommunities
  • study groups
  • private groups
  • faculty groups
  • the student’s account
  • tutors
  • book exchange
  • e-Portfolios
  • matrices
  • rubrics
  • voices and
  • manage

Students have to click on each of these to allow or deny access. They can also allow members to access their own items when they are logged in, namely:

  • organiser
  • messages
  • documents

If access to documents were clicked, they provide access to the member’s documents and not the student’s documents.

The side menu can also be edited. The labels and order can be changed. For the purpose of this test, I regarded the following pages as important components of my e-portfolio:

  • Profile
  • About me
  • Resume
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Task Calender
  • Goals
  • Accomplishments
  • Shared Docs
  • Artifacts
  • Reflections
  • Discussions
  • Join my Webfolio


Ease of add and editing content 

Access to pages is available from the side menu. It is quite easy to edit the pages (side menu). Click on the page (I have clicked on Profile, and click on the red EDIT PAGE button).

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 12.40.07 PM


You can choose to activate the tiles (pages filled with artifacts) and you can edit the content of the page.

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 12.42.26 PM


I have decided to add the slides (artifacts) only on the artifacts and reflection pages.

The following options are available for pages:

  • Three types of layout formats

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 12.46.35 PM


With regard to content, the following options are avialable:

  • change font (few options), size and colour of text
  • add hyperlinks
  • change size of headings
  • add page breaks
  • upload images ( a process to be taught)
  • links to videos and podcasts, it does not display on the page

Ease of adding content

Adding multimedia content is not easy, therefore students need to be guided. Videos cannot be embedded. When pages are edited, the changes are immediate.

On each page, five slides (blocks) can be used to organise content. The free version does not allow users to use less than 5 or more than five. However, when editing pages, the slides can be hided.

Collaboration opportunities

Students can start discussions within their e-portfolios, therefore peers and lecturers can be asked to provide feedback

Sharing options

If used as individual, e-portfolios can be shared via a email. Individual pages can also be shared via email. Others can be invited to look at the portfolio and it can be submitted for course assessment.

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 2.38.00 PM

See my example.

If you are unable to see it, please follow the instructions below.

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 2.50.00 PM

E-portfolios can be easily managed. 

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 10.45.07 AM



The following features could not be tested, it is restricted to the paid version:

  • rubrics and matrices
  • self and peer assessment
  • performance monitoring
  • standards and outcomes management
  • Integration with SIS and other systems
  • Institutional admin
  • Guided learning
  • multiple evaluators


Based on the quality of the e-portfolio created via the free solution, I believe that there are better options available. Furthermore, the fact that the system is hosted by another company is also a matter of concern that need to be addressed.


Examples created by others:

These examples do not use an e-portfolio to its full extend, maybe because it is quite difficult to share multimedia.


I believe we should test the paid version before making a final decision. Since rubrics are included, students will have to be guided to add content. Adding multimedia is quite difficult, therefore guidelines for using the technology have to be provided.




Digication (add on e-portfolio)

Digication is a add on e-portfolio tool.


Examples of e-portfolios created with Digication:




  • Navigation to content seems to be good (top menu)
  • Each page can have more pages with content (side menu)
  • Can add resume
  • Can add contact form for interaction
  • Can personalise
  • Supports multimedia (embed videos)



  • It seems if this system is worthwhile, but I could not test it due to cost.
  • I could not test the assessment – says can do rubric assessments
  • I could not create own examples




Chalk & Wire e-portfolios

Chalk & Wire is a web-based e-portfolio system, not hosted on campus, that supports students in creating e-porfolios.

Affordances of Chalk & Wire


The company provided the following examples of e-portfolios created via this system:


Based on these examples, Chalk & Wire provides a system that allows users to create accessible e-portfolios. After graduation, the e-portfolios are not deleted. Graduates can buy access to their e-portfolios.

Institutes for higher education using Chalk & Wire includes:

And many more.


Possible challenges

  • Up to 3000 student accounts, can request more, therefore it is important to request more information
  • I do not have access to this e-portfolio system, therefore I cannot test it to investigate if it can fit the needs of an institution.
  • I do not have access to the administration, reporting or assessment sections of this e-portfolio system. Will need access to write an informed report.



Categories of ePortfolio tools

Currently, many e-portfolio tools and systems are available to support individuals and institutions in the quest for meaningful assessment.


Helen Barret (2007) developed a useful framework for grouping these tools and systems according to their affordances. Since then, new tools have been developed, therefore, or old ones developed new affordances. The aim of this blog post is to group tools and systems based on their current affordances in order to assist in the selection of an effective tool or system.

images (2)


  • Level of personal expression and creativity decreases to bottom of list.
  • Level of interactivity increases down the list



Offline authoring tools

Offline authoring tools can be used to author portfolios, but require web server space to be published. No interactivity. Tools that can be used to create offline portfolios are:

  • Mozilla SeaMonkey
  • Dreamweaver
  • Apple’s iWeb
  • nVu
  • Frontpage
  • Microsoft Office (Word, PowerPoint)
  • Leshare Pro
  • adobe acrobat
  • MovieMaker2
  • PhotoStory 3
  • iMovie (or any other video editing tools)


Static Web Services

Individuals and institutions can use the following tools to create and publish presentation portfolios. Little or no interactivity. Tools that can be used include:

  • eFolio Minnesota
  • Tripod
  • KEEP Toolkit (Merlot)
  • Weebly (incluedes blog)
  • Yola (includes blog)
  • Screenr.com


Interactive Web services

These dynamic web services can be used to create and publish presentation portfolios. They allow interactivity. Tools that can be used include:

  • WordPress (blog) (reported high costs due to hacking)
  • Blogger
  • WikiSpaces
  • PBworks
  • GoogleDocs
  • Google Sites
  • ZOHO writer
  • Mobile tools (for collection and reflection)
  • foliofor.me
  • foliospaces
  • Myeport
  • Zunal
  • Rcampus
  • Teacher portfolio


Software – server required

These systems can be hosted on own services to provide a space where e-portfolios can be created and published. They provide interactivity, but no data management systems. Data management systems allow the collection of evaluation data about e-portfolios and and can produce reports aggregating quantitative data.

  • Userland’s manilla
  • Mahara (self hosted)
  • Blackboard
  • Elgg
  • OSPI
  • ePearl (K12)
  • SPDS Moofolio (embedded in Moodle)
  • myStuff (UK)
  • Plone
  • Drupal
  • Microsoft SharePoint
  • Karuta (cannot login, help needed with installation)
  • dotFOLIO
  • Simple Portfolio (Moodle)
  • MyStuff (Moodle)
  • Exabis (Moodle)


Hosted services

These systems can be adopted (no server required) to host portfolios. Usually supports interactivity, but no data management or reporting services. Tools include:

  • myVentive’s iWebfolio
  • PubblePad (UK)
  • Epsilen (not available any more)
  • my eCoach
  • Google apps for education


Assessment systems (Hosted services)

These hosted services can be adopted (no server required) to host e-portfolios, facilitating interactivity and include data management and a reporting system for assessment. Tools include:


I will test a few of these systems during the course of this year. If possible, I will create examples based on theoretical perspectives on learning in higher education. As soon as one is ready, the title will change to a hyperlink in order to allow you to explore the example.

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