ePortfolio - for didactics and for work

What is the ePortfolio? What is its educational value? How can it be used in everyday teaching? How can it help young people to be more active in their own training? Can it help them also in the business world?
June 26, 2015

On the June 16th, at Working Capital in Bologna, a group of teachers, students, computer scientists, and trainers met to discuss skills in the business world and to share experiences and propose the use of the ePortfolio, from the United States to Italy.

What is ePortfolio?

Let's start form the first question: what is ePortfolio?  It is a collection of electronic evidence assembled and managed by a user in order to demonstrate the user's abilities, as on Wikipedia .

The ePortfolio is also an emerging didactic tool.The ePortfolio, in fact, is not only a way to “do homework on the internet"  (which anyway would not be a bad thing in itself, as young people are always attracted to the challenge of new technology), but a way to get rid of paper giving more dimension to traditional homework and more so, a way for students to reflect.

In the writing, editing and curating of their ePortfolios, young people are encouraged to reflect on themselves and on their ways of learning - not only on the results of the exercise.

ePortfolio for teaching

Some of the advantages of the ePortfolio are written on the italian Wikipedia page: learning becomes evident, it becomes visible to everyone involved; the students are able to reflect on the subject but also on their methods of learning, and on their studying habits; carry out a project for some time (as opposed to specific exercises to test specific knowledge)  and thus increase their degree of involvement and make each a more personal matter, closer to the student.

Giulia Guarnieri, who uses the ePortfolio to teach Italian literature at the Bronx Community College in New York, can explain it better:

Learning technology then is not the exclusive right of upper level schools with rich coffers, but is extremely useful for a variety of learning institutions and does not need to be expensive, as explained again by Giulia Guarnieri:

More involved students, less drop-out

Universities which have adopted this tool in recent years have been able to show, in numbers, that this has contributed significantly to decrease the number of students who drop-out of school, or of a single course. How is it possible? Because making students more active, giving them the power to decide and evaluate their own training causes students to be more motivated, to construct their own course of study.  As a result they feel responsible and are less inclined to abandon their studies.

Jeffrey Yan, CEO e co-founder of Digication, the main platform of ePortfolio, which counts today more than 4.000 schools, explains:

ePortfolio at work: is it a CV 2.0?

Students more engaged in learning are students whose training and growth is much more meaningful for themselves firstly - which is what counts more - but also for the others. The knowledge that comes with such a process, the security, the awareness of their strengths and weaknesses, are also elements that emerge later during a job interview.

And if the ePortfolio can't substitute for the CV - which allows the candidate to share information and basic details at a glance - it could, however, certainly be a useful instrument in the hands of a recruiter for the second phase of a selection where one needs to gather more details of the activities and capacities of a candidate, as explained by Jeff Yan:

ePortfolio features in the field research currently conducted by Professor Maria Lucia Giovannini, University of Bologna, who has as her focus  "The use of ePortfolio to promote educational success and recognition of skills in view of inclusion and transitions to / in the workforce. ".

The research includes in-depth interviews about the needs and expectations from the principals of the world of work - companies, recruiters and operators of employment centers: a basic starting point to consciously enter this tool into the reality of our country.

ePortfolio + Open Badges

The ePortfolio then,  allows us to see the learning "from the inside", from the point of view of the learner which tells its own path.

A perspective perfectly complemented by that of the Open Badges, where the outcome of learning is recognized and certified by a third party, as an external criteria to publicize and share the skills and a report of the person. At the end of the path documented by the ePortfolio we could then have one or more Open Badges which show the outcome that such learning has had: one or more new skills to enrich the person, apparent to outsiders and useful to society.

Listen to the recordings on Spreaker