The Value of ePortfolios Out of the Classroom

Up until this point, I have derived a lot of value from learning about the Growth Mindset, articulating my learning manifesto, and coming to understand the COVA learning approach within “significant learning environments.” Furthermore, the opportunity to establish an ePortfolio to serve as a living repository of my learning in this program has been extremely beneficial. However, it is becoming more and more apparent that not being in the classroom, engaging with students on a daily basis, leaves me unable to implement the principles we are learning about in a real-world environment. Just to be clear, the topics we have covered thus far in 5302 and 5303 have been invaluable to me as I apply them to my own learning. Without having students of my own, my regret and concern is that I do not have the opportunity to apply ePortfolios to my student’s learning.

Setting aside my concerns about not having a laboratory (classroom) to test the benefits of ePortfolios with my own students, I can share with you a few reasons why I am convinced they are an ideal way to document and build upon my own learning. First of all, ePortfolios are living reflections of learning. If we accept the constructivist notion that learning is connecting and building upon already-established knowledge, the ePortfolio is the perfect tool/venue for documenting one’s learning then coming back time and again to refine or add to the ideas one has put forward. The electronic nature of an ePortfolio allows one to make these revisions and expansions with ease and flexibility.

Another benefit to the ePortfolio is the fact that technology allows the creator to reach a vast audience. Through tools like RSS feeds, the audience can always stay up-to-date about how the ePortfolio author is revising and expanding the reflections of his/her learning.

I wish Sun Tzu had read Donald Schon
As we have discussed, the ePortfolio requires that we reflect on our learning. In Coaching Reflexive Thinking, Donald Schon posits that an effective way to reflect on our learning is through storytelling. Recently, my book club read The Art of War by Sun Tzu. When we gathered to discuss the book, it was the shortest book club meeting we had ever had. The reason for this, as you well know if you’ve read the book, is that it reads like an instruction manual: 1) know your enemy and yourself; 2) don’t attack until half of your enemy’s forces are across the river; 3) in the midst of chaos, there is opportunity, etc. These are good lessons, but there is no narrative included to illustrate why these recommendations are so valuable. If Sun Tzu had included a story that showed and put into context why these rules are so valuable to a military leader, I would have learned much more from his book. Instead, I came away feeling as though I had just read a list of precepts.

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