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Behind the Hype: A New Perspective on ePortfolios

In an article written by Carl Straumsheim for Inside Higher Ed, the E-Portfolio Forum, taking place at the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU), addressed the hype and excitement surrounding ePortfolios. As a way to understand student outcomes and provide a holistic analysis of student performance in a course, ePortfolios have recently garnered a negative reputation due to instructors ineffectively and passively using ePortfolios in their courses. One pattern was apparent for ePortfolios:

Investing in the tool for the sake of keeping up with the trend is a recipe for failure.

Simply using ePortfolios for the sake of the trend/hype has created “redundant busywork”, which was stated by several faculty members and students who gave their impressions on ePortfolios in the classroom. Many argued that having ePortfolios as part of the curriculum only added an extra layer of work and did not provide any interesting elements to a course’s structure or content, most likely due to an instructor’s ineffective approach to properly integrating ePortfolios into their curriculum.

One aspect of ePortfolios succeeding was helping to address gaps in student learning, such as lacking skills in citing sources correctly. ePortfolios, in a way, helped to identify these problems and provided data and evidence for departments to react and work towards “closing the loop”.

Even though ePortfolios have been advertised to students as a tool to compile and showcase their work to future employers, many have argued that there is no solid evidence or demand that ePortfolios are desired by employers to review during the hiring process. Other places, such as Behance and Github, serve as more appropriate repositories for storing and showcasing student work.

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