I’m currently exploring the rather interesting world of e-portfolios. I remember back in my student teaching days when we had the students develop personal portfolios. We had a crate with hanging folders in it and the students filed their selected pieces in there with a strip of paper typed to the back that asked the student to identify the assignment, and then identify why they chose that piece for their portfolio. The students picked some very good pieces, but their reasons were often related to the grade they got on it rather than any internal motivation. While it showed they did well on the project and mastered the skills being measured, it did nothing to show one student’s triumph over his own apathy or another student’s growth in her sentence construction or a third’s growth in their ability to present.
Jeremy Hiebert has this excellent post [dead link] on the struggle to make a portfolio a balance between reflecting on one’s mistakes and learning and presenting shining examples of their work.
We seem to have this mindset that every mistake is a failure and we should hide them under a rug or in our closets. When we do this, however, we really sell ourselves short. While someone can see what our end result was, they have no idea what went into it. For example, when I want to present one of my teaching guides, I have two options. I can just show the guide, which shows that I can put one together competently. However, it says nothing about the hours of research and planning that went into it. It says nothing about the fact that I started with one planned layout, and then switched to another as my own knowledge grew during the course of the project.
These e-portfolios are a great idea because I think it is possible to not only show the finished product, but also associated notes and thoughts on the process of producing the product. I think an e-portfolio can be designed to show not only skills and competencies, but also passion.