Joyes et al's (2010) paper won a best paper award - and it's not difficult to see why. It's authority and groundedness are very clear, as is its significance for ePortfolio practice.
After an overview of ePortfolio activities within the JISC (e-portfolios are one of five main areas of activity) and an overview of the importance of ePortfolios, the authors provide five key roles for the successful implementation of ePortfolios in whatever setting.
- The role of purpose - "For successful implementation, the purpose/s behind the use of the e-portfolios must be aligned to the particular context" (p.22). The authors emphasise that ePortfolios cannot be understood outside of the context in which they are used.
- The role of learning activity design - "There must be a conscious design and support of a learning activity/activities suited to the purpose and the context" (p.22).
- The role of process - "The processes involved in the creation of the e-portfolio in the particular context must be understood and both technical and pedagogic support needs to be provided" (p.22).
- The role of ownership - "The e-portfolio processes and outcomes need to be owned by the student. This view leads to considering portability, choice of tool (use of their own phone, camera, audiorecorder, Web 2.0 application, for example)" (p.23).
- The disruptive nature of e-portfolios - "E-portfolios are potentially transformative and as a result are disruptive from a pedagogic, technological and an institutional perspective because they tend not to fit exactly within existing systems". Naturally, this means that ePortfolios are best implemented in a systematic way.
The threshold concepts approach recognises that developing understanding is a developmental journey, both intellectually and experientially, but that once the threshold is achieved the perspective of an area is changed forever. Thus guidelines/ guidance will only make sense to a stakeholder if the threshold concept is understood and the preconceptions resolved. Is this why the wheel has been invented so many times in the e-portfolio area? (2010, pp.24-25).
Indeed, it may well be why the wheel is so constantly reinvented. We e-learning practitioners tend to avoid informed practice, letting our enthusiasm for the tool prompt us to action. As a result, we frequently miss the easy and important lessons lying on the sruface of literature. Articles such as this by Joyes et al (2010) demonstrate the very real importance of keeping up with developments in journals.