The ePortfolio as a Measure of Open Heutagogy (self-directed learning) and Reflective Practice

An ePortfolio goes beyond simply collecting and storing artifacts. It leverages the unique potential of digital technologies to make connections between, and allow reflections upon, multiple experiences in ways that would not be possible with a traditional portfolio. The ability to connect standards, learning principles, experiences, and beliefs provide the opportunity to create layers of reflections and develop narrative themes.

Collect: Learners collect artifacts from their coursework, research and field experiences as potential sources of evidence to illuminate the process of learning and growth as they negotiate the institution and reflect upon their journey.
Select: Learners are expected to develop a critical, evaluative, and inferential lens to focus on key artifacts to select as the most appropriate and meaningful evidence of their growth.
Reflect: Working with critical incidents or well-remembered events, learners begin to construct evidence-based narrative reflections to describe how their experiences have influenced their transformation.
Connect: Learners look for themes among experiences, reflections, artifacts, and standards in order to construct and present a “portrait” of themselves as an active member of a learning community.

Reflection is at the heart of the ePortfolio. It clearly demonstrates that learners are thinking about what they think about; being intentionally thoughtful about defining an experience, explaining that experience, and determining future thoughts and actions. Learners’ reflections set their past, present, and future in direct tension as they seek to explain how institutional decisions and learning activities influence and shape their education.

Blogs can stand alone as artifacts of reflective practice. As part of the ePortfolio creation process, learners revisit their posts and treat them as relational artifacts/narrative records that can be connected thematically. They can then be re-connected in different ways, often alongside other artifacts, to demonstrate challenges that have been overcome and/or personal growth. When learners are given choices of modalities, the quality of reflections improve. Data shows a deepening of all reflective practices when using a rubric to evaluate the levels of those reflections. Learners also gain deeper levels of critical thinking skills when they reflect with a variety of methods. These reflections give insight into understandings and misunderstandings, especially when you link theory to practice and consider the moral and ethical implications of your beliefs and behaviors. This gives you quality artifacts to select from as you craft narrative accounts of personal growth. Take this reflective work, connect it to a theme and then reflect again as part of the process of constructing your identity. Meta-reflective practices that surface in the ePortfolio are also assessed. Sustainability is an issue because of lost and broken links to past artifacts. Work is now held on multiple platforms, allowing learners to maintain their ePortfolios after graduation and become lifelong learners. Research is needed to further refine and calibrate our ePortfolio assessment rubric and test our reflective-practice assessment tool to assure that we are measuring what we propose to measure. The goal is to simply articulate the concept of meta-reflection and encourage it in learners , to refine our assessment processes and to effectively promote ePortfolios to support student success.

Remixed from article in International Journal of ePortfolio 2013, Volume 3, Number 2
by Kelly A. Parkes, Virginia Tech
Katie S. Dredger, James Madison University
David Hicks, Virginia Tech