Step 1: Using ePortfolios


» What is an ePortfolio?

What is an ePortfolio?

An ePortfolio can be thought of as an electronic diary; it is usually a collection of reflections, goals and evidence of your learning journey created by combining digital artefacts and generated using various media (audio, text, images, video etc). An ePortfolio allows you to record your learning, reflect on your learning and to develop self-awareness through the four dimensions of reflection.

Thinking back - connecting to past memories and experiences that relate to the topic

Thinking forward - considering future implications of the topic

Thinking inward - recognising feelings and emotions about the topic

Thinking outward - considering another point of view on the topic (Barrett, 2008)

Benner (1984) describes an ePortfolio as a web-based collection of evidence of knowledge and skills, commentary, narrative and reflection compiled by learners. It should scaffold your transition from novice to expert (Benner 1984) in your discipline. It is about the integration of material and of learning, bringing the real world and the theoretical worlds together thereby reducing the theory – practice gap. One key to success is the ability to demonstrate skills and conceptual understanding by applying what has been learned to solve real world problems. This can be documented in your ePortfolio. Billings and Kowalski identify the key to the ePortfolio as the personal statement, as it demonstrates the student’s synthesis and interpretation of the items included in an ePortfolio (Billings and Kowalski 2005).  The ePortfolio provides a link between clinical practice and learning outcomes as well as structured career advancement. Often, a personal statement is included to give your own synthesis and interpretation of the items included in the ePortfolio.


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» What are the main components of an ePortfolio?

What are the main components of an ePortfolio?

The components of an ePortfolio will depend on the function and purpose of the ePortfolio.  ePortfolios can be designed and structured by you, or by your lecturer, or typically by a combination of guidance from your lecturer and innovative additions from you. There may be sections for your personal use only, and sections that you are constructing to share with peers and/or tutors. Within the ePortfolio there may be tools to capture and store evidence, reflect, provide and receive feedback, set targets or goals, share and collaborate and to present work to different audiences for assessment, employment or review etc. The ePortfolio may also double up as a digital repository, a ‘one stop shop’ for all your learning and achievements related to specific topics. This facilitates organisation and efficiency.


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» When can I use an ePortfolio?

When can I use an ePortfolio?

An ePortfolio can be used for many purposes but in particular to document your learning, archive your assessment and feedback, showcase your work, and improve employment applications (e.g. create a CV). It can be used to show your development, efforts, progress and achievements over time. ePortfolios can be used to reflect on and document formal or non-formal learning. For example, in the formal setting an ePortfolio can be used to record and track attainment of competency in relation to your professional programme. It can be used for continuous assessment components of the module, team-based learning, practical learning in workshops and laboratory settings, and so on.

Non-formal learning can occur at any time, for example during your placement or other opportunities organised as part of your course outside of the formal University environment.  Indeed, the ePortfolio is a great way of capturing your learning on placement. Documenting and reflecting on your experience enriches your learning and enables deeper understanding. This informal learning is sometimes referred to as impromptu learning – it can happen without planned or predetermined learning outcomes. It is as it says – informal. Using an ePortfolio may be one of the only ways to document and appreciate this type of learning, and encourages you to see the learning in every situation. Moreover, it allows you to capture experiences that are unique to you and advances your personal development.


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If you need to use an ePortfolio in your course – go to step 2 which shows you how to get started!