Often, creating the administrative framework is the simple but frequently overlooked part of implementing eportfolios, as even a review of existing eportfolio scholarship paints a rosy picture reminiscent of Ronco's "Set it and Forget it!" attitude. Given that eportfolios are widely accepted as effective high-impact educational tools, they still must be effectively manages, which includes selling eportfolios to administrators, students and faculty. An effective eportfolio program will
Educate Administrators and Faculty
Train Students & Workshop ePortfolios
Invite Everyone to Assess ePortfolios
Jettison ePortfolios into lifelong tools.
Future scholarship concerning eportfolios should focus on the four issues above, as they are critical to clearly defining the ways in which eportfolios can operate within the bureaucracy of an academic institution.
Administrative buy-in and fiscal support is critical to any academic project, as a sole faculty member will struggle to implement a program without administrative support. To gain administrative support, administrators must be educated about the nature and scope of projects such as eportfolios. As in our experience, it's easy to confuse similar yet different educational products such as eportfolios and course management systems, especially now that many course management systems and university portals contain eportfolio portals. In addition to explaining how eportfolios and course management systems differ, it is important to define the nature and scope of eportfolios using a graphic such as the one Helen C. Barrett (2011) presents in "Balancing the Two Faces of ePortfolios."
One of the most effective ways that administrators can show support for eportfolios is by allowing for curricular changes that document eportfolio requirements. In our case, no such documents existed, and that left college advisors without much needed documentation that they could use to encourage students to complete their eportfolios.
While they should be given the leeway to participate to a comfortable extent, faculty should be presented with the opportunity to become involved in the implementation of an eportfolio program. In a program such as ours, which assesses how effectively students meet college-level student learning outcomes, faculty can create assignments that address key outcomes and then inform students to place those assignments in their eportfolios. Additionally, faculty should be encouraged to include in their syllabi statements that explain how they will help students meet eportfolio requirements.
No matter the extent to which faculty desire to become involved with eportfolios, the eportfolio coordinator must establish guidelines and boundaries and then communicate those guidelines and boundaries with faculty. Since faculty naturally desire that their student excel in their studies, they may inadvertently provide so much eportfolio guidance for their students that the students become confused or overwhelmed.
Our extended eportfolio pilot aims to establish a career eportfolio for students, so we have the luxury of asking students to build their eportfolios in increments. However, that luxury cannot be taken for granted, so students need to be involved in the eportfolio process as early as possible, as faculty and the eportfolio coordinator must foster that habit of storing, but not necessarily presenting, every assignment in the eportfolio. Providing a series of workshops and student training will engender a reflective eportfolio culture and eportfolios will become natural parts of the curriculum rather than tagged-on external assessment components.
Since administrators and faculty should be invited to contribute to an eportfolio program, they should be invited to take part in the assessment process. While not all faculty need to read and respond to student eportfolios, a contingent should. The benefits of such a practice are that faculty will become aware of how their assignments affect students, faculty will develop an understanding of the purpose and scope of eportfolios, and faculty will be able to see how their courses have affected student learning and growth.
Students should take part in the eportfolio review process because such corroborative ventures will help them to better understand the purpose and scope of eportfolios and will help them understand the validity of eportfolios by examining how they fit within the curriculum.
Student's eportfolios should not exist within an academic vacuum that is harvested at the ends of their academic or undergraduate careers. Instead, student should be presented with opportunities to continue to nurture and grow their eportfolios after they graduate. After graduation, eportfolios should be converted into internship portfolios, graduate school portfolios, job search portfolios, or career portfolios. Since the work that students put into their eportfolios is their own intellectual property, they should be afforded the opportunity to continue to develop that property after they graduate.