An Introduction to ePortfolios at UW Oshkosh
With our new University Studies Program (USP) launching Fall 2013, we're working with members of faculty to prepare their USP courses to support the use of ePortfolios. There are a variety of types of ePortfolio already in use at UW Oshkosh in a number of existing general education courses, some majors, and in other areas of university life (such as Career Services). ePortfolios at UWO support a range of functions including learning, professional accreditation, and job-hunting. Their upcoming use in the USP represents a significant growth in their use as all incoming First Year Students will begin to use them as, what might be termed, a 'learning portfolio' in their studies. The USP ePortfolio’s will use the ePortfolio tool integrated into our institutional course management system Desire 2 Learn.
This ePortfolio for learning offers a way for students to gather, manage, reflect, and be assessed on the variety of digital content associated with their studies and cross-curricular activities. Students produce items such as papers, speeches, presentations, group projects, and other video or audio files as they progress through their studies and also create reflections on that content. For example, a speech course might add the following to an ePortfolio: a video of a student speech, its transcript, and a short structured reflection. The student reflection might articulate how they think their understanding changed through the course, what progress they see in their work, and how this course fits with other courses and their wider progression through their degree. Faculty can then assess their courses and student learning through the ePortfolio.
Such a learning portfolio is able to serve both as a mechanism to support learning - a process - and as a growing collection of the student's work and articulation of their experience of that process- a product (which can be assessed, shared, and developed). Eportfolios offer us the opportunity to help students become more aware of their progression through their studies, how they have developed skills and knowledge over time, and grown into their discipline and taken great ownership of their learning.
At a program level within USP key structural courses such as the Quest Series provide a framework for student learning in USP and along with content created in Explore form a body of materials which students reflect on later in their studies through the 'Connect' course and form a body of work and reflective practice which students may take forward into their major.
A number of majors are considering how they might build on or draw from this collection of work alongside considering how they might use ePortfolios as part of their own programs of study. For the institution, ePortfolios also provide a body of student work which can be aligned with our institutional learning outcomes and form a useful component of internal review and external accreditation processes.