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e-portfolio Jam

e-Portfolio Jam Event - 23rd May 2012


Some faculties (Arts and Design, Education, Health) here at the University of Canberra have worked with portfolios for many years, some digital and others paper based. In 2009 the Teaching and Learning Centre resourced an effort to implement Mahara, an open source e-portfolio platform, led by Leonard Low. Portfolio practice is a long term proposition, so a large aspect of this effort included garnering support to for a sustainable Mahara implementation. Mahara went into pilot mode in 2010. At the end of 2010 Leonard had moved to Hobart to be part of the University of Tasmania, and I assumed the role of promoting portfolios and Mahara. Our efforts, combined with strong interest from academic staff across the campus has resulted in steady growth of staff use of portfolios for themselves professionally as well as teaching and learning strategies in their curriculum.  Mahara became a production service at the beginning of 2012.

Supporting the community to this point in time has largely been a one-on-one arrangement, whereby staff learning portfolio technology and/or portfolio practice will work with me (primarily) on their specific implementations. Through my own research into portfolio practice and my experience supporting emerging practices and technologies (in this case web 2.0 technologies) I was aware that we needed a connected community approach to grow our collective knowledge and experience with portfolios. We needed to establish an e-portfolio community of practice at the University of Canberra. The establishment of this community would present exciting opportunities for sharing and collaboration.

The overall plan for this Jam then is to bring everyone who is working with e-portfolios together for the first time in order to form the beginnings of a University of Canberra portfolio community of practice. This event will be the first jam of many where we can share, learn, and take our own practice further through working on any problems we might have with help from others, or produce something: e.g. conceptual models, show and tell portfolio practices and technologies, etc.

Questions surround this event in terms of how it should be run in order to achieve the goals. For example, when to run it, how long should it be, what is the focus, and what would participants like to walk away with? I worked with the people I knew were working with portfolios to work these details out, ending up with the 23rd May 2012 and the agenda below. My initial ideas for the first Jam centered around exploring what everyone was currently doing with portfolios. By sharing practice and connections we could begin to form a community. It involved spending the first 10 minutes having a round of introductions (brief but informative). Followed by a series of show and tell sessions. Danny Munnerley suggested a product based approach as used in other Jam type events he has been organizing, where the time is very structured and the group collaboratively develops a product they can walk away with - a design goal being to get participants to think differently about problems - from different angles. I concluded perhaps a combined approach would be good resulting in the Agenda.


    •    Locate an existing professional portfolio relevant to you and deconstruct by identifying and extracting key concepts and features.
    •    Plan your own professional portfolio by integrating and organizing the key concepts and features you have identified, as well as any other concepts and feature(s) you wish to integrate.
    •    Identify the range and types of tools available for portfolio implementation and choose one that suits your needs.
    •    Begin construction of your own professional portfolio.
    •    Identify good practices for application in your own e-portfolio teaching strategies.

Jam Timeline (you can have many portfolios, we will be focusing on one)

  • Brainstorm a purpose for your portfolio (e.g. presenting yourself within your discipline, profession, for PDR, promotion, etc).
  • Identify who the audience will be this portfolio and what they will want to know about you in the context of the purpose.
  • Identify the nature of the content: Does the purpose and audience suit process (the work and thinking that went into a product –written reflections, images, video, peer comments, conversations, feedback loops?) and/or product (a list of published journal articles and books)?
  • With the intended purpose and audience of the portfolio in mind, search for portfolios online within the context of your purpose and discipline (if applicable) what are the key concepts and features of other people’s portfolios you have found?
  • What are the attributes of these portfolios that make them “good” in your view, what detracts?
  • List the attributes you would like to incorporate into your own portfolio design.
  • Bring together in a design brief the purpose, audience and elements of your portfolio.
  • Looking at what everyone has written on the board, what are the Commonalities among portfolio designs – key themes?
  • Explore some of the technologies available for e-portfolio development. (as a guide refer to
  • Begin creating a structure within Mahara, or choose one of the other platforms.
  • What elements of this process covered today would apply to students designing/using portfolios as used in your curriculum?


    •    iPad/laptop
    •    Marker
    •    Whiteboard
    •    Example portfolios:,

Some Inspiration for the Jam

Helen C. Barret: “There are three types of portfolios: Formative Portfolios, which usually occurs on an ongoing basis supporting professional development; Summative Portfolios, which usually occurs within the context of a formal evaluation process; and Marketing Portfolios, which are used for seeking employment (Hartnell-Young & Morriss, 1999). These authors also point out one of the many outcomes of portfolios:
"Many people discover that one of the most important and long-lasting outcomes of producing a portfolio is the self-esteem that comes from recording and reflecting on achievements and career success. Experienced teachers and administrators are finding that the benefits of developing a portfolio include the opportunity for professional renewal through mapping new goals and planning for future growth." (pp. 9-10)”
The Electronic Portfolio Development Process, © 1999, 2000, Helen C. Barrett, Ph.D.


What actually happened

The Jam was introduced by a quick overview of some current practices around portfolio use at UC, limitations of the current support resources, and the need for a community of practice. Following this Danny Munnerly, Felicia Zhang, myself, Jamie Ranse and the Wiradjuri pre-school quickly showed their ideas for portfolios and what technologies have been used. The show-and-tell raised a lot of questions and reset the agenda – a discussion of the topics listed below (to the best of my recollection).

Topics Covered

  • Alternative Systems/Technologies: (mahara, wordpress,, mobile access, physical storage, ABCPool, etc)
  • Security/privacy: features/affordances of institutional hosting (walled garden) compared to 3rd party cloud services (public and private spaces).
  • Useability: Mahara versus other systems such as
  • Alumni access: maintaining Mahara for alumni versus students managing own cloud account.
  • Integrations with other systems: e.g. 3rd party services and comparison to students in Moodle being able save artifacts to Mahara, including discussion posts, from within Moodle - e.g. tight integration.
  • Can Moodle be a portfolio: Not really - sites are temporal and are archived after 2 years, portfolio approaches need to be long term to e.g. realize full potential in supporting reflective practice, audiences having access to development of a person as opposed to a snapshot in time etc.
  • Cost: UC providing a service versus students paying for their own accounts on their chosen platform.
  • Storage: long term portfolios need a lot of storage space. Strongly linked to the cost issue.
In the last 30 minutes we discussed proposals for how we could connect in the future. It was proposed that those staff/faculties integrating portfolio practice would benefit from access to experts/experience. The group also raised the need for regular opportunities to see and learn from other peoples practices and implementations would be valuable. It was decided that the outcomes for the community based on these requirements would be to;  


  • Establish an expert reference group that can be called on by those using or wanting to use portfolio technologies and/or approaches for advise, support, etc.
  • Run a bi-annual digital portfolio symposium, hopefully using the Inspire building. (symposium: not as in: 3. (Historical Terms) (in classical Greece) a drinking party with intellectual conversation, music, etc. (
    • This definition is close – the actual symposium will be planned without the drinking and music...
(I will be working with the present community (for example all those invited to the jam) to setup the reference group and symposium.)

 Interesting Links

(thanks to Keith Lyons for this one)


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