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7 Ways To Create E-Portfolios

Replacing paper portfolios of yore, electronic portfolios are the newest way to showcase your school work or career search materials. They're also used in the classroom to teach and grade.
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Portfolios have long been used in education to represent a student's or educator's best work. But today, accordion folders are being replaced by "e-portfolios" -- engaging electronic showcases of the user's best work put together with software and services that help with the collection, collation and organization of work highlights.

Knowing how to use e-portfolio tools is important as education moves toward project-based learning, the integration of 21st century technology skills and, for K-12, the rigors of the Common Core State Standards. E-portfolios also are increasingly de rigueur for professionals, especially those looking for a new position.

E-portfolios are "dynamic, developmental spaces representing your professional 'self' on the Web," says a Penn State website that offers help and services to students, alumni and faculty looking to build an e-portfolio. "They are becoming standard practice for academics, students, and professionals and typically include examples of skills and achievements, as well as a reflective blog element."

E-portfolios can be developed in a variety of ways, from simple (and free) blogging platforms, to modules in learning management systems, to dedicated software programs and services. Many colleges and universities offer their own e-portfolio services to students, be they proprietary or licensed through an outside provider.

Pathbrite is one company offering e-portfolio services. Christopher Gray, the company's chief product officer, told InformationWeek Education that e-portfolio technology can be used to present "to a teacher, potential employer, any potential audience."

One common misconception about e-portfolios is that they are just for art students, he said. "You might think this is only for visual disciplines, like art, but … [we] have a gym teacher using it, as a video rubric for his gymnastic class," said Gray.

He said Pathbrite also is used extensively in the classroom for day-to-day teaching and learning, with teachers able to add interactivity to their lessons to increase engagement and understanding.

Gray noted that one of the benefits of e-portfolios -- no matter what environment they're being used in -- is that they are capable of representing a continuum of work, and that different elements and experiences along that continuum can be connected. In addition, because e-portfolios are usually stored in the cloud, users -- and those who want to connect with them or assess their work -- can get to them anytime and anywhere.

E-portfolios vary widely in their capabilities and extensibility. Pathbrite, for example, integrates with online learning site Khan Academy; badges earned in Khan can be pulled into Pathbrite. If you're looking for an e-portfolio platform, weigh your list of needs, both present and anticipated, against the capabilities and costs of the many options currently available.

In the following slideshow we offer a look at just a few of the many ways you can get started on your own e-portfolio. Have you already created an e-portfolio? Leave a comment to share advice.

Follow Deb Donston-Miller on Twitter at @debdonston.

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