Electronic Portfolios = Multimedia Development + Portfolio Development
The Electronic Portfolio Development Process

© 1999,2000, Helen C. Barrett, Ph.D.

5 Stages of Electronic Portfolio Development:

1. Setting the Portfolio Context
2. The Working Portfolio
3. The Reflective Portfolio
4. The Connected Portfolio
5. The Presentation Portfolio


The process of developing electronic teaching portfolios can document evidence of teacher competencies and guide long-term professional development. The competencies may be locally defined, or linked to national teaching standards. Two primary assumptions in this process are: 1.) a portfolio is not a haphazard collection of artifacts (i.e., a scrapbook) but rather a reflective tool which demonstrates growth over time; and 2.) as we move to more standards-based teacher performance assessment, we need new tools to record and organize evidence of successful teaching, for both practicing professionals and student teachers.

One of the most exciting developments in the school reform movement is the use of alternative forms of assessment to evaluate student learning, and one of the most popular forms of authentic assessment is the use of portfolios. The point of the portfolio (electronic or paper) is to provide a "richer picture" of a student's abilities, and to show growth over time. Portfolios are being developed at all phases of the life span, beginning in early childhood, through K-12 and higher education, to professional teaching portfolios. As more schools expand student access to technology, there are an increasing number of options available for developing electronic student portfolios, including relational databases, hypermedia programs, WWW pages, PDF files, and commercial proprietary programs like Grady Profile, SuperSchool's Electronic Portfolio and Persona Plus.

Electronic portfolio development draws on two bodies of literature: multimedia development (decide, design, develop, evaluate) (Ivers & Barron, 1998) and portfolio development (collection, selection, reflection, projection) (Danielson & Abrutyn, 1997). Both processes are complimentary and essential for effective electronic portfolio development. Understanding how these two processes fit together, along with understanding the role of standards in electronic portfolio development, will provide teachers and students with a powerful tool for demonstrating growth over time which is the primary value of a portfolio.

Benefits of Electronic Portfolio Development

Based on research into the implementation of electronic portfolios for both students and teachers since 1991, the following benefits appear to result from developing electronic portfolios with teachers and students:

1. Creating an electronic portfolio can develop teachers' as well as students' multimedia development skills. The multimedia development process usually covers the following stages:

2. Modeling: If teachers develop electronic teaching portfolios, their students will be more likely to have their own electronic portfolios

3. Each stage of the portfolio development process contributes to teachers' professional development and students' lifelong learning:

Understanding how these two processes fit together, along with how standards fit into electronic portfolio development, will allow teachers and students to gain the most benefit in demonstrating the results of student learning over time, which should be the primary purpose for creating a portfolio.

Framework for the Portfolio Development Process
(Based on Danielsen & Abrutyn & ASCD, 1997)
The collection process is the primary activity of a working portfolio. The best advice is, "Don't save everything!" (but save enough to be able to demonstrate achievement of the specific standards). The portfolioís purpose, audience and future use of artifacts will determine what is collected at this stage.

In the selection phase, the portfolio developer examines what has been collected to decide what should be moved to a more permanent assessment or display portfolio. The selection criteria should reflect the learning objectives that the portfolio is demonstrating.

At the reflection stage, portfolio developers articulate their thinking about each piece in their portfolio. Through this process of reflection, we become increasingly aware of ourselves as learners. For the novice or young learner, it may be appropriate to use reflective prompts, or open-ended questions to guide the reflections. It is recommended to include reflections on every piece plus an overall reflection on the entire portfolio.

In the projection or direction stage, the portfolio developers, review their reflections on their learning, taking the opportunity to look ahead and set goals for the future. At this stage, portfolio developers should see patterns in their work and use these observations to help identify goals for future learning. It is at this stage that the portfolio becomes a powerful tool for long term development.

I have added the connection stage to the ASCD model, since this can become a powerful motivator for long-term development. In this stage, the portfolio is presented to the appropriate audience and discussed in meaningful conversation about teaching and/or learning. (This stage may occur before or after the projection stage.) Often, appropriate "public" commitments to learning goals can encourage collaboration and commitment to professional development and lifelong learning. Also, the feedback received in this stage can lead to further goal-setting.

Robin Fogarty, Kay Burke, and Susan Belgrad (1994, 1996) have identified ten options for portfolio development, further defining the stages and increasing the quality of the portfolio process: 

  1. PROJECT purposes and uses 
  2. COLLECT and organize 
  3. SELECT valued artifacts 
  4. INTERJECT personality 
  5. REFLECT metacognitively 
  6. INSPECT and self-assess goals 
  7. PERFECT, evaluate, and grade (if you must) 
  8. CONNECT and conference 
  9. INJECT AND EJECT to update 
  10. RESPECT accomplishments and show pride
Figure 1: Portfolio Development Options

Framework for the Multimedia Development Process

The multimedia development process usually covers the following stages: Assess/Decide, Plan/Design, Develop, Implement, Evaluate.

Decide/Assess: In the first stage, in the case of a multimedia presentation, the focus is on a needs assessment of the potential audience, the presentation goals, and the tools that may be most appropriate for the presentation context. When developing an electronic portfolio, the focus is on the audience for the portfolio, the learner goals that the portfolio should be demonstrating. These goals should follow from national, state, or local standards and their associated evaluation rubrics or performance indicators. This stage in the portfolio development process should identify and describe the assessment context.

Design/Plan: In the second stage of multimedia development, the focus is on organizing or designing the presentation. The focus is on determining audience-appropriate content and presentation sequence, constructing flowcharts, writing storyboards. This is also the time to determine audience-appropriate software, storage and presentation medium. When developing an electronic portfolio, the focus is also on describing the audience(s) for the portfolio, whether they be the student, parent, college, community, or any other stakeholder in the assessment process. Now is the time to determine content of portfolio items (by context) and the type of evidence to be collected; determine which software tools are most appropriate for the portfolio context; and determine which storage and presentation medium is most appropriate for the situation

Develop: In this third stage of multimedia development, the focus is on gathering multimedia materials to include in the presentation, organizing the materials into a sequence (or with hypermedia links) for the best presentation of the material, using an appropriate multimedia authoring program. When developing an electronic portfolio, the focus is on gathering multimedia materials that represent a learnerís achievement and including those artifacts in the portfolio. This is where the artifacts can be linked to standards, preferably in a relational database. In electronic portfolio development, students also record their self-reflections on their own work and achievement of the goals/standards. Teachers record feedback on student work and achievement of goals/standards. The final part of this stage is to organize the material using hypertext links between goals/standards, student work samples, rubrics and assessments.

Implement: In this fourth stage of multimedia development, the developer gives the presentation. In electronic portfolio development, the portfolio is recorded to appropriate presentation and storage medium. The electronic portfolio is also presented to an appropriate audience, by the student in age-appropriate situations.

Evaluate: In this final stage of multimedia development, the focus is on evaluating the presentationís effectiveness. In electronic portfolio development, we not only evaluate the portfolioís effectivenes in light of its purpose and the assessment context; we also use the portfolio evidence to make instruction/learning decisions. In some cases, we may collect exemplary portfolio artifacts for comparison purposes.

There are two types of evaluation: Formative Evaluation, which usually occurs on an ongoing basis, and Summative Evaluation, which usually occurs when the project is completed.

 


The Electronic Portfolio Development Process
Five Stages and Five Levels
From the discussion of both the Multimedia Development Process and the Portfolio Development Process, along with the discussion of the appropriate technology tools, five stages of Electronic Portfolio Development emerge. Here are the issues to address at each stage of this process.
Electronic Portfolio Development Stages
Portfolio Development Electronic Portfolio Development Multimedia Development
Purpose & Audience 1. Defining the Portfolio Context & Goals  Decide
Assess
Collect
Interject
2. The Working Portfolio Design
Plan
Select
Reflect
Direct
3. The Reflective Portfolio Develop
Inspect
Perfect
Connect
4. The Connected Portfolio Implement
Evaluate
Respect 5. The Presentation Portfolio Present
Publish



 

Differentiating the levels of Electronic Portfolio Implementation

In addition to the stages of portfolio development, there appear to be at least five levels of electronic portfolio development. In reviewing the electronic portfolios that are produced, it is important to establish different expectation levels for development. Just as there are developmental levels in student learning, there are developmental levels in digital portfolio development. Below different levels for digital multimedia development and electronic portfolio development, which are closely aligned with the technology skills of the student or teacher portfolio developer.

Levels of Digital Portfolio Implementation
0
1
2
3
4
5
All documents are in paper format. Some portfolio data may be stored on video tape. All documents are in digital file formats, using word processing or other commonly-used software, and stored in electronic folders on a hard drive, floppy diskette or LAN server. Portfolio data is entered into a structured format, such as a database or HyperStudio template 
or 
slide show (PowerPoint or AppleWorks) and stored on a hard drive, Zip, floppy diskette or LAN server.
Documents are translated into Portable Document Format with "hyper-links" between standards, artifacts, and reflections using Adobe Acrobat Exchange and stored on a hard drive, Zip, Jaz, 
CD-R/W, or LAN server.
Documents are translated into HTML, complete with "hyper-links" between standards, artifacts, and reflections, using a web authoring program and posted to a WWW server. Portfolio is organized with a multimedia authoring program, incorporating digital sound and video is converted to digital format and pressed to CD-R/W or posted to WWW in streaming format. 

The Stages of Electronic Portfolio Development

Stage 1: Defining the Portfolio Context

Multimedia Development: Decide/Assess
Portfolio Development: Purpose & Audience
  • Identify the assessment context, including the purpose of the portfolio.
  • Identify the learner outcome goals (which should follow from national, state, or local standards and their associated evaluation rubrics or observable behaviors). This is a very important step, setting the assessment context, which should help frame the rest of the portfolio development process.
  • Identify the resources available for electronic portfolio development.
    • Identify the hardware and software you have and how often students have access.
    • Assess the technology skills of the students and teachers
  • Identify the audience for the portfolio--student, parent, college, employer (often based on the age of the student). The primary audience for the portfolio will contribute to the decisions made about the format and storage of the formal or presentation portfolio. Choose a format that the audience will most likely have access to; i.e., parents may not have a home computer, but may have a VCR.
A portfolio without standards or goals:
  • is just a multimedia presentation
  • or a fancy electronic resume
  • or a digital scrapbook

 
Appropriate Technology Tools at this Stage:
  • Use whatever software tools are currently being used to collect artifacts, storing them on a hard drive, a server, or videotape.
  • Set up electronic folders for each standard to organize the artifacts (any type of electronic document). [Level 1] 

  • AND
  • Use a word processor, database, hypermedia software or slide show to articulate the standards to be demonstrated in the portfolio and to organize the artifacts. [Level 2] 

  • OR
  • Use an HTML editor to articulate the standards to be demonstrated in the portfolio and to organize the artifacts. [Level 4] 

  • OR
  • Use a multimedia authoring program to organize by the standards to be demonstrated in the portfolio.[Level 5]

You will know you are ready for the next stage when:

  • You have identified the purpose and primary audience for your portfolio.
  • You have identified the standards or goals that you will be using to organize your portfolio.

  • You have selected the development software you will be using and have completed the first stage using that tool.


 

Stage 2: The Working Portfolio

Multimedia Development: Design/Plan
Portfolio Development: Collect
  • Identify the content of portfolio items (determined by the assessment context) and the type of evidence to be collected. This is where the standards become a very important part of the planning process. Knowing which standards you are trying to demonstrate should help determine the types of portfolio artifacts are to be collected and then selected.
  • Select the software development tools most appropriate for the portfolio context and the resources available. Just as McLuhan said, "The medium is the message", the software used to create the electronic portfolio will control, restrict, or enhance the portfolio development process. Form should follow function as well, and the electronic portfolio software should match the vision and style of the portfolio developer.
  • Identify the storage and presentation medium most appropriate for the situation (i.e., computer hard disk, videotape, local-area network, a WWW server, CD-ROM, etc.). The audience for the portfolio will have a major impact on this component. There are also multiple options, depending on the software chosen.
  • Gather the multimedia materials that represent a learner's achievement. Once you have answered the questions on portfolio context and content, as well as the limitations on the type of equipment available and the skills of the users (teachers and students), you will be able to determine the type of materials you will digitize, such as: student written work, images of student projects, sounds of students speaking or reading, and video clips of student performances. Of course, you will want to collect artifacts from different points of time to demonstrate growth and learning that has taken place.
  • Interject personality into the portfolio design.  Use some of the graphics capabilities of current computer systems to add style and flair to the portfolio.
Levels of Digital Multimedia Development
1
2
3
4
5
Text Only
Add Images
Add Navigation (hypertext links)
Add digitized sound
Add digitized video
Levels of Digital Storage
1
2
3
4
5
Floppy Diskette

Hard Disk Drive

Zip Disk/Super Disk

Jaz Disk

LAN Server
CD-R/W
WWW Server

Appropriate Technology Tools at this Stage:

Select software tools to organize selected artifacts:

  • Use Word Processing, Slide Shows, Hypermedia, or Database programs to list and organize the artifacts that will be placed in the Working Portfolio. [Level 2] OR
  • Use an HTML editor (or any tool that is normally used) to develop and organize the artifacts for the Working Portfolio. [Level 4] OR
  • Use a multimedia authoring program to organize the selected artifacts. [Level 5]
Convert student work into digital format
  • Use appropriate multimedia to add style and individuality to portfolio.
  • Use a scanner (or camera) to digitize images [Level 2]
  • Use a microphone and sound digitizing program to digitize audio artifacts [Level 4]

  • Use a video camera, digitizing hardware and software to digitize video artifacts [Level 5]

You will know you are ready for the next stage when:

  • You have a collection of digital portfolio artifacts that represent your efforts and achievement throughout the course of your learning experiences.
  • You have used the graphics and layout capability of the chosen software to interject your personality into the portfolio artifacts.
  • It is time to turn this collection into a portfolio.



Stage 3: The Reflective Portfolio

Multimedia Development: Develop
Portfolio Development: Select, Reflect, Direct

Record self-reflection on work and achievement of goals. The quality of the learning that results from the portfolio development process will be in direct proportion to the quality of the self-reflection on the work. One challenge in this process will be the need for confidentiality of these reflections. This is the place where the personal, private reflections of the learner need to be guarded, and not published in a public medium.

Record feedback on work and achievement of goals. Even more critical is the confidential nature of the assessment process. Feedback should also be kept confidential so that only the student, parents and other appropriate audiences have access, and not published in a public medium.

  • Write general reflective statements on achieving each standard.
  • Select the artifacts that represent achievement of the standards or goals.
  • Write reflective statements for each artifact, elaborating on why it was selected and its meaning and value in the portfolio.
  • From the reflections and feedback, set learning goals for the future.
A portfolio without reflections:
  • is just a multimedia presentation
  • or a fancy electronic resume
  • or a digital scrapbook

Appropriate Technology Tools at this Stage:

  • Use Word Processing, Slide Shows, Hypermedia, or Database programs to record the reflections and future goals that will become the Reflective Portfolio. [Level 2]

  • OR
  • Use an HTML editor (or any tool that is normally used) to record the reflections and future goals that will become the Reflective Portfolio. [Level 4]

  • OR
  • Use a multimedia authoring program to record the reflections and future goals that will become the Reflective Portfolio. [Level 5]

 
Setting goals for future learning
This is the stage that turns 
portfolio development 
into powerful 
professional development

You will know you are ready for the next stage when:


Stage 4: The Connected Portfolio


Multimedia Development: Implement, Evaluate
Portfolio Development: Inspect, Perfect,Connect
  • Organize the digital artifacts. Use software that allows the creation of hypermedia links between goals, student work samples, rubrics, and assessment. The choice of software can either restrict or enhance the development process and the quality of the final product. Different software packages each have unique characteristics which can limit or expand the electronic portfolio options.
  • Identify patterns through the "linking" process.
  • Final review of the portfolio and goals.
  • Share the portfolios with an appropriate audience. This will be a very individual strategy, depending on the context. An emerging strategy is the use of student-led conferences, which enable learners to share their portfolios with an appropriate audience, whether parents, peers, or potential employers. This is also an opportunity for professionals to share their teaching portfolios with colleagues for meaningful feedback and collaboration in self-assessment.  This "public commitment" provides motivation to carry out the plan.
  • Depending on portfolio context, use the portfolio evidence to make instruction/learning or professional development decisions. Whether the portfolio is developed with a young child or a practicing professional, the artifacts collected along with the self-reflection should help guide learning decisions. This process brings together instruction and assessment, portfolio development and professional development, in a most effective way.

  •  
Appropriate Technology Tools at this Stage:
  • Convert word processing, database or slide show documents into either PDF [Level 3] 

  • or HTML  [Level 4] 
    AND
  • Create hypertext links between goals, student work samples, rubrics, and assessment.
  • Insert multimedia artifacts [Level 3 & 4]

  • OR
  • Create a hypermedia presentation using a multimedia authoring program, creating links between goals, multimedia work samples, rubrics, and assessment. [Level 5]

You will know you are ready for the next stage when:

  • Your documents are converted into a format that allows hypertext links.
  • You can navigate around your document using those hypertext links.
  • You have inserted the appropriate multimedia artifacts into the document.
  • You are ready to share your portfolio with someone else.


Stage 5: The Presentation Portfolio

Multimedia Development: Present, Publish
Portfolio Development: Respect (Celebrate)
  • Record the portfolio to an appropriate presentation and storage medium. This will be different for a working portfolio and a formal or presentation portfolio. The best medium for a working portfolio is video tape, computer hard disk, Zip disk, or network server. The best medium for a formal portfolio is CD-Recordable disc, WWW server, or video tape.
  • Present the portfolio before an audience (real or virtual) and celebrate the accomplishments represented.
  • Evaluate the portfolio's effectiveness in light of its purpose and the assessment context. In an environment of continuous improvement, a portfolio should be viewed as an ongoing learning tool, and its effectiveness should be reviewed on a regular basis to be sure that it is meeting the goals set.
Appropriate Technology Tools at this Stage:
  • Post the portfolio to WWW server

  • OR
  • Write the portfolio to CD-ROM

  • OR
  • Record the portfolio to videotape


Evaluating the Electronic Portfolio

In reviewing the electronic portfolios that are produced, it is important to establish different expectation levels for development. Below are a set of rubrics that address different criteria for effective electronic portfolio development, which are closely aligned with the technology skills of the student or teacher portfolio developer.

 

Degree of Meta-Cognition and Reflection 
(Turning a collection into a reflective portfolio)

0
1
2
3
4
5
Little or no reflection or mention of standards or goals. 
A collection of artifacts - 
A scrapbook or multimedia presentation
Simple overall reflection on the portfolio as a whole. Level 1 PLUS Standards or portfolio goals are included. Level 2 PLUS Reflections on achieving each standard or goal PLUS future directions (learning goals). Level 3 PLUS Reflections on the role of each artifact in the portfolio. Level 4 PLUS Feedback from portfolio conferencing and responses from others. Includes self-evaluation of the portfolio.

 

Ease of Navigating Electronic Portfolio

1
2
3
4
5
Simple, linear presentation document. No navigation links (or may have "broken" links) Hyperlinks (i.e., buttons) from table of contents (TOC) to standards May have links to artifacts. Hypertext links between TOC, standards, artifacts, reflections. Fully hyper-linked document between TOC standards, artifacts, reflections.  Interactive presentation with animation and intuitive navigation.

 

User Choice in Navigating the Electronic Portfolio

1
2
3
4
5
No user choice in navigation. Minimal user choice in navigation. Appropriate and clear user choice in navigation. Maximum and obvious user choice in navigation. Maximum and obvious user choice in navigation.

 

Seamless integration of standards, artifacts, reflections in an Electronic Portfolio

1
2
3
4
5
Documents in original, separate files Documents may be in separate files or merged into a single file. Documents are consolidated into a single file (PDF). Documents are in a single directory on a web site. Integrated, engaging, self-running multimedia presentation.

 

Appropriate Use of Multimedia

1
2
3
4
5
No audio/video, or inappropriate use, distracting from content of portfolio Audio may be included. Appropriate audio and/or video optional. Appropriate audio and/or video included. Appropriate audio and video integrated seamlessly into presentation.

 

Evaluation Criteria for UAA's Secondary MAT Portfolios

 
Exceptional
Thorough
Adequate
Inadequate
Descriptors
  • high level of thought
  • polished 
  • considerable effort 
  • thorough 
  • well organized 
  • variety in products 
  • unique 
  • substantial application to own teaching 
  • shows individualís personality 
  • demonstrates both depth and breadth 
  • highly imaginative
  • well covered (products relate to the standard)
  • complete 
  • organized 
  • effectively and clearly presented 
  • demonstrates clear understandings 
  • applies what has been learned to the classroom 
  • clearly shows connections 
  • detailed 
  • thoughtful 
  • supported with ideas
  • complete 
  • minimal effort 
  • minimal original thought 
  • minimal organization 
  • includes general information but lacks descriptive detail 
  • some application to teaching
  • missing evidence or information 
  • sloppy or poorly organized 
  • demonstrates only surface understandings 
  • no evidence of application to teaching
  • poorly written or does not include rationale statement


There are many other criteria that could be used to evaluate electronic portfolios.  Most of them should be created by the portfolio developers. One excellent reference for evaluating professional portfolios can be found in Capturing the Wisdom of Practice by Giselle O. Martin-Kniep, published by ASCD (1999).  The Appendix of this book contains several rubrics for different types of professional portfolios, on a variety of dimensions at the following levels: exemplary, developed, emerging, undeveloped.



© 2000, Helen C. Barrett, Ph.D.