Summary of my ePortfolio Experiences

von Klaus Himpsl-Gutermann

Additional material for my presentation at ePIC 2012 in London


As a Member of the Academic Staff at the Department for Interactive Media and Educational Technology at Danube University Krems I got in touch with the idea of ePortfolios and was rather skeptical first. But my position changed, due to my own expericences in research projects as well as in teaching. In spring 2012 I finished my doctoral thesis about ePortfolios in academic qualification (in German).

To learn more about me please visit my public presentation portfolio (in German)!

ePortfolio concept for the master studies "eEducation, MA"
ePortfolio concept for the master studies "eEducation, MA"

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phd thesis of @ is a great read on the implementation of #eportfolio and #mahara
Kristina DC Hoeppner
Overview of the four strategy models (Himpsl 2009)
Overview of the four strategy models (Himpsl 2009)
Shortlist of recommendable products (Himpsl & Baumgartner 2009)
Shortlist of recommendable products (Himpsl & Baumgartner 2009)

My contribution presents a summary of the most important results of a dissertation about e-portfolio use at the University for Continuous Education in Krems, Austria. Central to the dissertation is a 3-year action research project, which was carried out in the extra-occupational master study course “eEducation MA” with the aim to develop, implement and, in particular, analyse an integrative e-portfolio concept for academic qualification. The research questions and design focused on the e-portfolio’s benefit and relevance for students. The final analysis, therefore, relies on qualitative interviews that were carried out with alumni from two different years, primarily using the Grounded Theory methodology. Resulting from their descriptions of problem areas, critical factors and learning strategies, the dissertation provides direct recommendations for the implementation of e-portfolios as well as various contributions concerning e-portfolio theory in the form of three models. The main result of the empirical study is a 4-phase model, which describes the long-term use of e-portfolios from the perspective of students along four phases: “orientate yourself”, “position yourself”, “identify yourself” and “present yourself”. Especially in the second phase, areas of conflict become apparent in the e-portfolio between reflexive learning and the development of a “digital career identity”. Apart from that, the empirical study shows that the design of the portfolio was of crucial importance in the phase of orientation and identification, and that the students encountered the most difficulties with the process of reflection. For a better understanding of the 4-phase-model, the paper first describes the context of e-portfolio implementation, the design of the virtual learning environment and the e-portfolio’s integration into the blended learning concept of the study course.

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My article offers an overview of various strategies for the implementation of e-portfolios at Austrian universities. It discusses four different approaches (strategy models A to D) and describes the necessary organisational framework for successful conception and implementation processes. The development of the four strategy models is based on theoretical insights from current international literature on e-portfolio implementation, on papers about a taxonomy of e-portfolios as well as an empirical study. This study (interviews with project managers and students) comprises of six case studies carried out at Austrian institutions of higher education and was conducted within the framework of the project “Case studies for implementation strategies for integrated e-portfolios within the tertiary education sector“funded by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Science and Research (bm:wf). The four strategy models discussed in this article are: A. Design of development portfolios as a university service, B. Learning portfolios as a teaching/learning method in individual courses, C. Evaluation and showcase portfolios as integral parts of technology or media related courses of study, D. Combination of the models A, B and C in connection with a university-wide strategy. The article offers a basic description of these four models, more detailed information is available in the study report, which is in possession of the bm:wf.

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E-Portfolios are a new type of software and it is still relatively vague to determine, which functions are obligatory – that is which functions constitute characteristic features – and which functions are just optional (“nice to have“). This article describes the concept and the preliminary results of a research project which was conducted to evaluate E-Portfolio software, and aims at providing decision guidance for implementing E-Portfolios in higher education - first and foremost from the pedagogical perspective. Which recommendations can be made to an institution which now wants to implement electronic portfolios with a certain objective?

Link to the article at iJET

An overview of the 4-phase sequence of e-portfolio use in eEducation, ideal-typical sequence and deviations (Himpsl-Gutermann, 2012)
An overview of the 4-phase sequence of e-portfolio use in eEducation, ideal-typical sequence and deviations (Himpsl-Gutermann, 2012)

“[…] as soon as you know in such a case that you will publish this at some point, then there is, let’s say, self-critical thinking is restrained, of course, because you don’t say this is simply my diary that no-one will see, where I am writing things down for myself. It’s not that, you would have to somehow separate that, you would have to say, ok, I can do one part for myself, reflecting for myself alone, but I don’t really want to show this to the public, right. This is, I see some tension there […] So probably I have, let’s say, I tended to write for a reader, not really for myself. That’s, well, looking back honestly right now, this is like a rather automatic and unconscious process, that you tell yourself, ok, this is going to be looked at, graded, so you will write what somehow, well, will give a good impression on the whole. And everything else, well, I can think about that for myself. So, well, it does have this tendency, doesn’t it.”

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"And over and above this, there is this additional investment and the creation of a suitable portfolio. At least it seems to be an additional investment at first. And possibly many will only see when looking back that this investment actually pays or has paid. I don’t know whether this is always the case from the start. I was rather sceptical at the beginning. Or rather, I didn’t know this method e-portfolio at all, and it took some time until I was actually able to identify with it, and before I really used it, actually used it with more and more pleasure."

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