In search of a silver bullet

In Search of a Silver Bullet

(An example of the use of the Mahara eportfolio platform to summarize a research journey)

Profile - Meg Goodine

I see my role as Manager, Learning Technology, as being a liaison between academic divisions and technical teams to help select and use appropriate and effective technologies that will improve the way teachers teach and learners learn.

E-portfolio: Definition

Cotterill S. J. What is an ePortfolio? ePortfolios 2007, Maastricht 

"...An ePortfolio is a purposeful collection of information and digital artifacts that demonstrates development or evidences learning outcomes, skills or competencies.

The process of producing an ePortfolio (writing, typing, recording etc.) usually requires the synthesis of ideas, reflection on achievements, self-awareness and forward planning; with the potential for educational, developmental or other benefits.

Specific types of ePortfolios can be defined in part by their purpose (such as presentation, application, reflection, assessment and personal development planning), pedagogic design, level of structure (intrinsic or extrinsic), duration (episodic or life-long) and other factors."



E-portfolio: See above

CMS: Content management system. Also course management system

LMS: Learning management system

PDP: Personal development planning

PLE: Personal learning environment

VLE: Virtual learning environment





This site presents a summary of my research on eportfolios as partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Master of Arts in Learning and Technology at Royal Roads University.  The complete paper is attached below. By way of comparison, I have created a similar site using WordPress, a blogging application that is gaining popularity for eportfolio use (Note: Kwantlen's WordPress site is currently being relocated and is temporily unavailable- May, 2013). I wanted to gain some experience with both systems and this project presented the ideal scenario--providing both a motivation and a deadline!

My interest in eportfolio tools grew out of efforts to solve a very practical problem: how to allow students to manage and share files (especially large media files) beyond the confines of the institutional learning management system. Students were increasingly asking for better ways to collaborate with classmates and share course and assignment files, as well as for the ability to access their work beyond the duration of a single course.  My experimentation with with eportfolio tools began with Mahara, an open source eportfolio application. I piloted the use of Mahara with a small group of students to test whether it would meet their file sharing needs. It was quickly apparent that without faculty engagement, students would be unlikely to invest time in using such a system on their own. This led me to wonder if other institutions had been down similar paths.

As I began my research, I was surprised that, despite obvious interest in eportfolios, so few  BC post-secondary institutions had iimplemented institutionally supported eportfolio systems. I was also surprised by the volume of case studies from the UK, US, and Europe, where eportfolio use seems to be more wide-spread. I proposed to examine case studies about eportfolio implementations in post-secondary settings in order to answer the following research questions:

  • What factors influence the success or failure of institutionally supported e-portfolio implementations?
  • What conditions contribute to sustaining and supporting eportfolio tools and practices?
  • To what extent are some disciplines better suited to eportfolio practice than others?
  • What factors influence institutional decisions on which tools or platforms to support?

Case Study Sources

Cambridge, D., Cambridge, B., & Yancey, K. (Eds.) (2009) Electronic Portfolios 2.0: Emergent Research on Implementaton and Impact. Sterling, Va: Stylus. 

Jafari, A. & Kaufman, C. (Eds.) (2006) Handbook of Research on ePortfolios. Hershey PA: Idea Group Inc.

JISC Infonet: http://www.jiscinfonet.ac.uk/case-studies/e-portfolios

University of British Columbia Eportfolio Project (2006). http://blogs.ubc.ca/projectportfolio/


Final Report