10 Reasons to use a Blog for your ePortfolio

Yesterday our department (EDTECH at Boise State) hosted a meeting with Helen Barrett, a well-known consultant in the field of eportfolios. Her website is phenomenal and is filled with many ideas and ways to use eportfolios. I learned a lot, especially about the different types and purposes of portfolios (workspace versus showcase) and what they can mean to the learner and the teacher. Since our department is now offering an M.E.T. degree with the culmination being a portfolio, we want to make sure our students have the best opportunity to create excellent, meaningful portfolios.

Helen argues that portfolio software is not the best type of platform to use for student portfolios. One of the main reasons is their rigid structure, offering little flexibility and creativity to the student, reducing the student’s ownership in his/her learning progress. She does, however, suggest that teachers provide some support, with several examples of portfolios for students to view, as well as ideas for how the portfolio can be organized and presented. She strongly supports using blogs as a “learning log,” or workspace for students to develop and then showcase their progress, turning a blog into an eportfolio. I couldn’t agree with her more. Which leads me to think (again) about blogs and their potential and come up with my own 10 reasons for using a blogging platform for an eportfolio:

(Note the words in bold: input, organization, retrieval, display. These words are all part of an ideal eportfolio system, and criteria that blogs easily offer.)

  1. Blogs can be set up in a flash, are free, do not require any specialized knowledge of html.
  2. Blogs can be personalized through selecting a theme, adding widgets, and adjusting blog settings.
  3. Blogs include the ability for readers to comment on posts, encouraging formative evaluation and feedback by instructors and students.
  4. Blogs provide very flexible ways to input data, such as write posts, embed objects, attach files, and link to other files, with each post having a unique “permalink.”
  5. Blog categories, tags, and pages offer various methods of organization for blog posts.
  6. Blogs allow easy ways for retrieval and display of information, through tags, categories, and searching for keywords.
  7. Blogs or individual blog posts can be set up as private or password-protected, to encourage more reflective writing that is naturally part of an eportfolio.
  8. Blog content can be exported to other types of blogs or websites, embedded on websites, and reconfigured in numerous ways.
  9. Blogs are dynamic, which means users can subscribe to them using RSS or email, receiving automatic updates when new content is posted.
  10. Blogs provide detailed statistics, which can help the creator identify where the readership is coming from and what posts are the most popular.
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6 thoughts on “10 Reasons to use a Blog for your ePortfolio

  1. Hi, Barbara, As much as I agree with your 10 points for a blog (and I would not dare to disagree with Dr Barrett) I would suggest that an e-Portfolio is much more than a blog.

    For a start, to your highligted words I would add *audience*, *privacy*, *e-safety* and *tools* – each of which really need expanding. Yes, these things can be done within a blog to some extent, but why struggle when for a very small annual sum these tools can all be available to the learner, with on-line help and support?

    And secondly, not all e-Portfolios are as inflexible as Dr Barrett argues. For me, the whole point of an e-Portfolio is that it can be formatted or ‘cosmeticised’, can be arranged in any order with pages addedd or removed and is easily navigable. The whole presentation should be capable of easily stating ‘This is ME!’

    For more on my views on e-Portfolios, please see:
    http://www.efoliointheuk.blogspot.com

    Best Wishes,
    Ray T

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  3. Great post!! and I totally disagree with Ray’s comment – why pay for something you can have for free; that supports specific embedded objects we actually use in the rest of our digital identity; and with mass adoption is likely to achieve real interoperability in a much shorter timescale than specific e-portfolio software?
    I use WordPress and there are levels of privacy for your whole blog and each individual page. I found it much easier to use than PebblePad (for example), and I certainly didn’t ‘struggle’ in comparison. In addition the community building aspects and the mass adoption of blogging only add to an easy-to-use and easy-to-change solution.
    I have a link to this page on my e-portfolio 🙂

    Lee

    http://leefolio.wordpress.com

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  6. I think I would put eportfolios in that box that includes QR codes, MOOCs and pen tablets for input. Great conceptually, but in the real world, for whatever reasons, they just will fail to deliver. It may be that you can provide students with an easy to use eportfolio system, but like “American Idol” contestants, most students don’t deserve a gold ticket to the next level. Put the average student “on the stage” and you might be embarrased by their performance, or lack thereof. *I’m not saying you won’t find some fantastic eportfolios online, but most of those will be “showcase” sites, and if you can dig deeper and review more students, their sites might just show how confused or disorganized they are. All the more reason to keep them “locked down”.

    In Oct. 2012, I found a wonderfully put together site on “ePortfolios and Learning Outcomes” (both for students & faculty helping those students develop their eportfolios) at http://owneportfolio.wordpress.com/ . In Oct. 2009 I listed why I thought WordPress would make an excellent framework for eportfolios http://eptemplate.wordpress.com/2009/10/07/eportfolio-initiative-using-wordpress/ and in June 2009 I even referenced Helen Barrett’s site http://eptemplate.wordpress.com/2009/06/24/using-a-wordpress-blog-as-an-eportfolio/

    Maybe I’m suggesting that most students don’t have the capability to judge the content they are creating, or the events they are experiencing, or the value of the processes they are participating in during their higher ed life. It is only an experienced outsider that can take a look at their work and ask, “do you see the value of this and how it fits in the overall scheme of your education.”

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