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e-Portfolio Templates - imagine the potential!

At the 2011 portfolio forum in Perth WA Kathleen Yancey showed the audience in her Masterclass how to think of e-portfolios in a way that could bring together learning from inside and outside a course - documenting learning obtained outside formal courses, and revealing the linkages between formal courses and extra curricula activities. This approach maximises the value of the resulting portfolio not only for the portfolio author but also their audiences, since for a teacher or adviser it is useful to know what a student is doing outside a course. See tuned as I track down this work by Kathleen. Also see this Slide Share: The proof is in the portfolio: An architecture of the good, the bad and the mediocre by Terrel Rhodes;

Terrel delivered the Masterclass with Kathleen.

Kathleen demonstrated to me the value of holistic portfolio approaches, and this fits in well with my developing interest in templates. At UC we have some experience with competency based templates. In 2011 I worked with Stephen Isbel to develop a Mahara template for 25 students based on Occupational Therapy competencies and reflective practice. In 2012 Misty Adoniou and myself reused this approach and developed a competency based e-portfolio template for Teacher Education, in this case Misty developed the template to cover 4 years.

Wanting to explore the possibilities of templates TLC met with Careers. We informed them of the growing use of e-portfolios and, based on what we had learned from Kathleen and experiences at UC, explored what careers thought of working with TLC and unit conveners to help further develop portfolio templates as a student tool for career planning and development.

Further developments gave me opportunity to identify even more ideas for e-portfolio templates:

  • various conversations (relating to e-portfolios for professional development beyond competencies)
  • an action research project focused on e-portfolios (intended and unintended outcomes of e-portfolios in professional settings for teaching and learning), and; 
  • my presence at an OT accreditation meeting (where the professional body identified graduate skills development needs)

These events made it clear to me that the personalised environment of an e-portfolio was ideally suited to creating career, discipline, professional, etc specific or generic templates that could:

  • inform students of their possible curriculum trajectory over the next 4 years (as with the 2012 template from teacher education). In a SAFFIRE related conversation Alan Arnold and Jonathan Powles termed this as helping students to develop a sense of a "learning journey", enabling them to see how individual units they experienced were connected to each other.
  • inform students of the kinds of things their chosen profession will be looking for on graduation (a use derived from the OT accreditation meeting).
  • be tailored by students with support from faculty, careers and other services internal and external to the university - cutting out things they won't need and keeping template items of use (since templates are unlikely to be developed specifically for each students, students would need to tailor the ones developed for their chosen areas). 
  • help students benchmark progress against each other through sharing access to e-portfolios (as seen among Teacher Education and OT students during 2011/2012).
  • inform students of the kind of careers related skills that will benefit them and the support that exists to help them develop those skills (ideas raised by the Careers service).
  • there will be many more advantages of these course/profession/careers based portfolio templates - please your ideas to the comments.

Possible template lenses:

During 2012 Misty Adoniou observed a trend when comparing performances or the traditional paper based portfolio against the digital portfolios. The students using the digital portfolios faired better overall. When the paper based portfolio students questioned why their peers faired better in grades Misty was able to determine that the template in the digital portfolio made it easy for those students to see exactly what was expected in terms of competencies to be met, types of evidence to collect, etc. The digital portfolio template acted as an extremely high degree of assessment transparency.


  1. In the case of marketing the use of a portfolio for all students we should also look into exploiting the social features of Mahara - e.g. campus services each having a portfolio or even a group that students can subscribe to, advising students they can create profiles and connect with other students in Mahara, etc.


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