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C2C Lantern (Fall 2014/ Winter 2015)

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Showcasing Student Learning with a Blog ePortfolio

By Rosemary Talab, Kansas State University

[Note:  To view a short digital photo album of some blog-based e-portfolio elements at K-State, visit this link.  The browser used has to be Javascript enabled for the interactivity (essentially digital page turning).]  

Why Use ePortfolios?

More than 4 in 5 employers say an electronic portfolio would help to ensure that job applicants have the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in their organizations (Association of American Colleges and Universities and Hart Associates, 2013). Seven times as many students reported using e-portfolios in 2012 as compared to 2010 (52% versus 7%) (Brown, Chen & Gordon, 2012). Over 50% of colleges and universities offer eportfolios (Dahlstrom, Dzuiban, & Walker, 2013).  

In determining the nature of the evaluation of student learning, consider these three questions:
  • Do students have difficulty summarizing what they learned?
  • Do students understand the point of the courses taken in the program?
  • Are your final exams/orals so boring that you dread them as much as your students do?
As Kierkegaard is attributed as saying that “life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards”. Bass (2012) found that faculty wanted students to be able to “speak from a position of authority” (para. 25). When faculty speak of “authority,” they mean the confidence that comes from critical thought and depth. So, how do we teach students to be able to demonstrate the ability to speak from a position of authority?

Designing backward from those kinds of outcomes, eportfolios help students to reflect, analyze, integrate and learn from experiences with greater depth through using new technologies and social pedagogies. Understanding by Design or “backward design” helps faculty to think in terms of outcomes when designing an eportfolio program (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005).  This process involves the following steps:  

  1. Identify desired results.
  2. Determine acceptable evidence.  
  3. Plan learning experiences and instruction.
What is an ePortfolio?

An “eportolio” is a digital collection of evidence of a student’s academic learning and personal growth, enriched by an analytic narrative that explains and contextualizes the relevance of each piece of evidence (Paulson, Paulson & Meyer, 1991). It’s based on an old concept – “show and tell”, in which we learn to choose what is important to us and how to communicate it to an audience.

Research has found that those who use eportfolios have a higher pass rate (Clark & Eynon, 2009) and have higher grade point averages, credit accumulation and retention (Hakel & Smith, 2009). ePortolios help students to “connect the dots” between assignments, courses, program goals, and national accreditation requirements.

This approach also helps faculty to use holistic, standards-based assessment, and assess program quality assurance. Students are required to review and assess their process skills, explore self-directed learning and use the higher order thinking skills of analysis, evaluation and creation of Blooms’ Digital Taxonomy provides (Churches, 2008).

New approaches, termed “social pedagogies” (Bass & Elmendorf, 2011) that bring the world into the classroom help to refocus student assessment from teacher/student to student/self, student/student, and student/world. Social pedagogies engage students with an audience other than the teacher in which the presentation of knowledge requires the student to explain this understanding to an audience. The result is deepened reflections, links across courses and semesters, a bridging of curricular and co-curricular learning and the chance to rehearse connecting with an audience. Social pedagogies require the use of social networks, blogs, rss feeds, and their integration for learning.

Programmatically, the eportfolio provides the student with the chance to see the relationship between completion evidence for program, department, institution and national accreditation purposes. It also provides a personal growth narrative, performance assessment, a summary of meaningful life experiences and a job position search aid. 
How Do I Make an ePortfolio?

In constructing an eportfolio, the process is somewhat different from a print portfolio (Niguidula, 2010).  In a traditional portfolio process, the learner engages in the following activities:  collecting, selecting, reflecting, presenting, and sharing.  In a technology portfolio, the learner archives, links / thinks, story-tells, collaborates, and publishes...for deeper learning and to integrate social and collaborate elements.  

Artifacts and evidence come from several sources: papers, presentations, videos, apps, social networks, etc. There are several options for a blog eportfolio: Weebly, Livebinders, Blogger, Edublogs, Canva, Wix, and eportfolio options in learning management systems. The use of a required blog and template can be useful for various reasons - enhanced navigation options, template options that more closely allow program rubric, standard and outcome representation and options, website changes, the opportunity to use a premium option, etc.

In instituting an eportfolio program, these considerations become important: formal or informal assessment, will they be maintained on a student or institutional server, eportfolio ownership, the target – program or career, narrow standards or deep learning, advising, mentoring, and materials needed, which courses will be included, copyright and privacy issues. The Minnesota statewide eFolio system, the University of Denver, the University of Washington, LaGuardia Community College, St. Olaf College, Virginia Tech, the University of Nebraska at Omaha use eportfolios

Some Real-World Examples 

Some students have given permission to share their online portfolios.  

Please click on the above links for the full interactive experience.  

Final Thoughts

Steven Johnson, the author of the book Where Good Ideas Come From, closes his TED Talk of the same title with the tagline: “Chance favors the connected mind.” ePortfolios can help us to connect, remember, analyze, reflect, and transform ourselves and our practices.


Bass, R. & Elmendorf, H. (2011). Social Pedagogies. Teagle Foundation white paper. Retrieved from

Bass, R. (2012). Disrupting ourselves: The problem of learning in higher education. Educause Review Online. Retrieved from

Brown, G., Chen, H. & Gordon, A. (2012). The annual AAEEBL survey at two: looking back and looking ahead. International Journal of ePortfolio. 2(2), 129-138. Retrieved from

Churches, A. (2008). Bloom’s taxonomy blooms digitally. Tech & Learning. Retrieved from

Clark, E. & Eynon, B. (2009). E-portfolios at 2.0-Surveying the field. Peer Review, 11(1), Winter 2009, 18-23.

Dahlstrom, E., Dziuban, C., & Walker, J. D. (2013).   ECAR study of undergraduate students and information technology, 2013 (Research report). Louisville, CO: EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research. Retrieved from

Hakel, M. D., & Smith, E. N. (2009). Documenting the outcomes of learning. In D. Cambridge, B. Cambridge, & K. B. Yancey (Eds.), Electronic portfolios 2.0: Emergent research on implementation and impact (133-135). Sterling, VA: Stylus.

Hart Research Associates. (2013). It Takes More than a Major: Employer Priorities for College Learning and Student Success. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities and Hart Research Associates.

Johnson, S. (2010). “Where Good Ideas Come From,” TED Talk. Retrieved from

Niguidula, D. (2010). Digital portfolios and curriculum maps. In Heidi Hayes Jacobs (Ed.), Curriculum21 (pp. 178-196), published by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Paulson, F., Paulson, P. & Meyer, C. (1991). What makes a portfolio a portfolio? Retrieved from

Wiggins, G. & McTighe, J. Understanding by design. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

About the Author 

Dr. Rosemary Talab teaches at the College of Education at Kansas State University.  

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