ePortfolio Snapshot

Evolving purposes

The primary purpose for implementing ePortfolios varies from one institution to the next. IUPUI has encouraged ePortfolio adoption for a range of purposes:

  • to help students demonstrate learning and showcase their skills;
  • to enable professional presentation of student accomplishments for graduate school applications or employment searches;
  • to support students' academic/professional planning, development, and success;
  • to allow capstone evaluation of student skills and content mastery;
  • and to support program assessment, improvement, and accreditation.

IUPUI began experimenting with ePortfolios in the early 2000s, targeting their use to emerging campus needs. Because of ePortfolios' capacity to incorporate representations of and reflection about student learning across curricula, one purpose from the outset was to help faculty members assess student mastery of the Principles of Undergraduate Learning (PULs). Despite early technical challenges, experience showed that ePortfolios could provide authentic evidence of student learning for these purposes. ePortfolio adoption at IUPUI escalated rapidly when new presentation tools became available in 2010.

Because ePortfolios are particularly well suited to support student reflection, senior capstone experiences have been natural candidates for ePortfolio use, while graduate programs have found benefits for program assessment for improvement and accreditation. University College's interest in a vehicle for first-year students' Personal Development Plans has taken advantage of ePortfolios as platforms for students to create web-based representations of themselves and their work. (For details and supporting resources about the electronic Personal Development Plan, or ePDP, see the ePDP site.)

The RISE to the Challenge Initiative engages students deeply in learning and contributes to their intellectual and professional development in a variety of ways. Electronic portfolios are proving to be well suited for authentic assessment of such complex learning, and several IUPUI projects are exploring and implementing use of the ePortfolio for RISE courses and experiences.

Finally, ePortfolios will contribute to realizing the goals of IUPUI's new strategic plan, Our Commitment to Indiana and Beyond, especially the goals and objectives related to the Success of our Students. For example, initiatives already under way incorporate ePortfolios into high-impact practices and support assessment of prior learning for credit.

Advancing professional development

A key element of IUPUI's implementation strategy for ePortfolios has been to work closely with faculty and staff conducting pilots in departments and centers across the campus. From 2005 to 2012, the ePortfolio Initiative made small grants, called "Integrative Department Grants," to departments (or, in some cases, schools or centers) to (1) explore strategies to integrate the PULs and/or disciplinary outcomes throughout their majors or other programs, and (2) pilot the IUPUI ePortfolio to improve and demonstrate such learning. Beginning in 2008, the program also encouraged proposals related to assessment of the PULs, the RISE Initiative, or other campus priorities. Grantees, in turn, provided valuable feedback about improvements needed to make ePortfolio tools more useful.

IUPUI has also participated in three major interinstitutional ePortfolio projects, which created new opportunities for faculty development and engagement with colleagues across the country and beyond.

In 2003-06, IUPUI joined the first cohort of the Inter/National Coalition for Electronic Portfolio Research (I/NCEPR). A collaboration among colleagues from nine institutions, the work of the cohort resulted in a widely read book, Electronic Portfolios 2.0 (Stylus, 2009). During 2010-13, IUPUI joined eleven other institutions as part of I/NCEPR Cohort VI to explore how the distinctive characteristics of ePortfolios could be leveraged to improve assessment and accreditation. The IUPUI project team also conducted a campus-wide qualitative research project on the role of reflection in ePortfolios at IUPUI. The final report on that research is posted on the I/NCEPR website.

website screenshotFinally, IUPUI was a leading participant in "Connect to Learning: ePortfolio, Engagement, and Student Success." This federally funded project engaged two dozen institutions in identifying attributes of successful ePortfolio adoption and conducting research on ePortfolio effectiveness. As part of the project, University College and the ePortfolio Initiative collaborated with the Department of Psychology, the Life-Health Sciences Internship Program, and the Student African American Sisterhood to develop models for expanding use of the electronic Personal Development Plan (ePDP) beyond the First-Year Seminar. Results and findings of both IUPUI's work and the entire national project are reported in Catalyst for Learning, a comprehensive online resource on ePortfolio practice. The associated website that includes IUPUI contributions is at http://iupui.mcnrc.org/.

Engagement with these national projects demonstrated the value of exposure to ePortfolio experience at other institutions. By 2012, the ePortfolio Initiative had phased out the Integrative Department Grant Program in favor of supporting faculty and staff participation in national projects and in regional and national professional conferences, often as presenters. The initiative also continued a series of campus-wide workshops on ePortfolios begun in 2007-08, sponsored a discussion group, and provided stipends to participants in an intensive ePortfolio/ePDP workshop and extended community of practice.

New interest with a new platform

By mid-2012, Indiana University recognized the need to update its instructional technology platforms and convened a University-wide committee to advise on a more flexible and forward-looking ePortfolio platform. IUPUI's extensive experience enabled us to co-lead the review process, which culminated in a rank-ordered recommendation to UITS in spring of 2014. Adoption of Taskstream was announced at the start of academic 2014-15, with a two-year transition for current ePortfolio users.

To assist faculty and staff with ePortfolio project transition, in May 2015 the ePortfolio Initiative issued a new call for proposals for ePortfolio development and transition. Since September 2015, the Initiative has funded 23 pilot and implementation projects, including several in cooperation with the RISE to the Challenge Initiative (see details here).