There is something appealing about a paper portfolio—from being able to feel the texture and quality of the paper used, to having a tangible product to hold. And while a well-designed paper portfolio is certainly a work of art, it begs the questions: in this digital age, is it practical? Like many facets of academia, the portfolio has evolved beyond its traditional purpose and it is imperative students, along with colleges and universities follow suit. It’s time to embrace the ePortfolio.
8 Advantages of an ePortfolio
1 – Provides Enduring Continuity
Over time, a paper portfolio will show signs of age and wear. Even if precautions are taken, it will be susceptible to environmental elements (i.e., moisture, sunlight). Whereas an ePortfolio doesn’t need to worry about decay and can be continuously updated with fresh information.
2 – Offers Easy Mobility
Thanks to smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc., the average person is well-connected. This means his/her ePortfolio is always a couple of clicks away. A paper portfolio requires a person to physically have it with him/her always, which is cumbersome to lug around.
3 – Free and Reproducible
A paper portfolio requires an investment in physical materials, which can get costly, not only monetarily, but also time wise. On the other hand, an ePortfolio is usually offered at no cost and multiple versions can be easily made. No hauling everything to the nearest copy store in the hopes of creating copies that look somewhat as good as the original.
4 – Searchable and Instantly Available
With an ePortfolio there’s no pesky table of contents or index that requires a person to physically look for information. Instead, they can find what they want by searching for skills or even digital badges. And all this can be done without the physical presence of the person who created the portfolio; all the hiring manager needs is a link.
5 – Enables Collaboration
One major skill employers are looking for in job candidates is the ability to work effectively within a team structure. An ePortfolio provides an excellent opportunity for students to practice collaboration on projects. It also lets them tag each other, which increases their chances of being found during a search. With a paper portfolio, not only is collaboration harder to achieve, but the search option is completely absent.
6 – A ‘Live’ Resource
Since an ePortfolio can be updated on a frequent basis, it becomes a viable and, possibly, valuable resource for others. A paper portfolio comes with a shelf life and the chances the creator will spend the time and money needed to update it is highly unlikely.
7 – Reviewable
An ePortfolio can be read, reviewed, and assessed by anyone, anytime, and anywhere. No hassle of copying and distributing hard copies and then collecting them so comments can be placed in one master document. Instead, those with a vested interest in the content (i.e., teachers, advisors, etc.) can simultaneously view the ePortfolio and provide feedback for improvement.
8 – Represents Difference Views
Instead of a fixed format and layout that is standard with a paper portfolio, an ePortfolio is more fluid and allows for different organizational views. In turn, the views represent different functions for the ePortfolio (e.g., progression, competencies, etc.) which are easier to reproduce electronically.
Share in the comments the advantages an ePortfolio has given you.
Photo Courtesy of: Martin Voltri