Barrett (2004) defines e-portfolios as “digital stories of deep learning”. Working on the e-portfolios improves students’ learning, and fosters their learner autonomy so that they can feel responsibility for their own learning. Besides, e-portfolios are “inherently motivational” as discussed by Barker (2005). Students do lots of work, like writing essays and keeping vocabulary notebooks. Nonetheless, all their work is separate, and we as teachers can utilize the e-portfolio as a collective tool for collaborative learning (Figure 1), and encourage our students to prepare ‘learning e-portfolios’ which are described as a “classroom-by-classroom phenomenon” by Helen Barrett (2011). I believe e-portfolios should not be developed to assess students like a test but to help them improve their learning. Furthermore, Barrett (2004) holds the view that adding technology to portfolios makes it collaborative and e-portfolios should promote collaboration.
E-portfolios can be developed on wikis since they both foster collaborative learning. (Figure 2). It is also advantageous to utilize wikis if they have already been explored by the students. Barrett (2000) advises selecting the most suitable software and tools for the e-portfolios to meet the needs of students. Rather than introducing lots of tools it is better to focus on tools that can be utilized in line with the class objectives, and as the aim here is to promote collaborative learning, a wiki serves as a good option. Barrett (2000) further suggests that feedback on e-portfolios should not be public. While working on the wiki, students can work collaboratively and give feedback to each other, and by changing the setting, the wiki can be set as private.
What 2.0 Include on E-portfolios
1. Written works.
2. Vocabulary notebooks.
3. Reading lists.
4. Useful websites students use to improve their English.
5. Anything students want to share related to learning English by using their imagination.
I have developed the list above according to the needs of my students. Though all the items are important for them to improve their English, and work collaboratively, I advise them to focus on written works and vocabulary notebooks since those are the sections my students find challenging. Hence, I focused on writing and vocabulary skills. As for the written works, I created a wiki page for my students, and encouraged them to work in groups. They all practiced writing wikis, and for the e-portfolio study students collected their works on their e-portfolios, gave feedback to each other, and worked collaboratively. I also gave feedback to them as Barrett (2000) claims e-portfolios should include feedback; otherwise it would be no different from a “digital scrapbook”. By way of vocabulary notebook, since learners are involved directly when they are implementing cognitive strategies, I taught my students cognitive strategies explicitly and let them choose the strategies they want while studying vocabulary. Ultimately, they developed vocabulary notebooks on wikis.
How 2.0 Evaluate E-portfolios
Barrett (2000) suggests that rather than using e-portfolios as an assessment criterion, they should be regarded as an “ongoing learning tool” which should be evaluated to check if it meets goals. Thus, I utilized formative evaluation, and although my students tend to ignore tasks that will not be graded, their participation in studying and increased motivation showed that e-portfolio study proved its effectiveness.
Barker, K. C. (2005).ePortfolio for the Assessment of Learning. FuturEd White Paper. http://www.futured.com/documents/FuturEdePortfolioforAssessmentWhitePaper.pdf
Barrett, H. (2000), Electronic Portfolios = Multimedia Development + Portfolio Development The Electronic Portfolio Development Process. http://electronicportfolios.com/portfolios/EPDevProcess.html
Barrett, H. (2004). Electronic Portfolios as Digital Stories of Deep Learning: Emerging Digital Tools to Support Reflection in Learner-Centered Portfolios.
Helen Barrett, E-Portfolios for Learning, “Why isn’t there more E-Portfolio Development in K-12 schools?” Helen Barrett’s Blog, entry May 16, 2011; http://blog.helenbarrett.org/
Işıl Boy works as an ICT Coordinator and EFL Instructor at Yildiz Technical University in Istanbul, Turkey. Having taken her BA in TEFL from Istanbul University, she is studying for an MA in Educational Technology and TESOL with the University of Manchester. She is also the IATET representative for Turkey. You can follow Isil on Twitter as @isilboy and on her blog. She also maintains a Ning Network: www.yildizprepschool.ning.com.