Cambridge Develops E-Portfolio Refinement

Posted: September 29, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Stephanie Hay

Darren Cambridge, assistant professor of Internet studies and information literacy in New Century College, is a technical advisory board member to the Instructional Management System (IMS) Learning Consortium. For the past two years, he has worked to develop a specification that would allow users’ e-portfolios to be more versatile and universally applicable.

“The e-portfolio was incredibly powerful for me to bring coherence to my many educational experiences I was having in the early part of graduate school,” says Cambridge. “Having a way to capture and organize all of those beginnings of becoming a member of a professional community was important.

“I later realized that, to have maximum value, individuals shouldn’t just have to keep e-portfolios in a single university or educational course. It ought to be a document that is used throughout life in lots of ways. That’s the vision and potential I see e-portfolios as having.”

He cites the 58 percent of students who take college-level courses at more than one institution as a driving factor to create a universal program for e-portfolios that will help students track their own learning, but can extend beyond their education.

“People can document and organize their experiences in school, in their personal lives and in their professional lives,” he said.

While completing his PhD at the University of Texas at Austin, Cambridge spearheaded the development of a software program called the Learning Record Online that supports e-portfolios. This development was a first step to a larger initiative to unify e-portfolios. Aiming to accomplish that goal is the independent Open Source Portfolio Initiative; Cambridge serves on its board.

In July, Cambridge and his IMS group released their final version, which allows users’ e-portfolios to follow them wherever they go. He travels to England next month for a gathering of software developers from around the world who are implementing the specification.

What’s next?

“It’s done and out there now, so we need to cultivate relationships with vendors and market the ePortfolio to students and organizations and also document best practices to affect future revisions,” he says.

Also on the horizon is an empirical study on how people use the e-portfolios based on Cambridge’s involvement with the eFolio Minnesota Project, involving more than 35,000 users.

This article originally appeared in a slightly different format in CAS Connection.

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