What are they?

ePortfolio's- A useful definition is given by the University of California at Berkeley’s Leadership Development Program (Walz 2006), which describes an ePortfolio as, ‘a highly personalized, customizable, Web-based information management system, which allows students to reflect upon and demonstrate individual and collaborative growth, achievement, and learning over time’. Walz stresses of three important aspects of ePortfolio development: first, an ePortfolios is most valuable when it are a personalised document; second, that reflection on learning is an essential aspect of an ePortfolio; and third, that the ePortfolios should consider learning over a period of time.

Effective ePortfolios 21st Century Learner

Effective practice ePortfolio

Move over LMS for PLE

Some researchers today (Salzburg Research Centre,08) are considering that the concept of LMS limits the role of learners to the possibilities of the learning management system and the creativity of the teachers, the concept of PLE focuses on active, self-directed, creators of content. Hence, the "Web 2.0" shift from "consumer" to "prosumer" can be...read more

This concept identified seven aspects where these changes are most obvious and/or important. To sum up, learning with PLE leads to changes concerning: (1) the role of the learner as active, self-directed creators of content; (2) personalisation with the support and data of community members; (3) learning content as an infinite “bazaar”; (4) the big role of social involvement; (5) the ownership of learner's data; (6) the meaning of self-organised learning for the culture of educational institutions and organisations, and (7) technological aspects of using social software tools and aggregation of multiple sources.

Ostensibly, Schaffert & Hilzensauer state that building and fostering a strong collaboration among peers in an LMS is not impossible, but this belongs not to the core idea of the technological concept: Collaboration and exchange of peers is not in the focus of the LMS concept. LMS offer the opportunity to add discussion forums and sometimes also collaborative (Wiki) spaces. The concept of LMS ignores or overlooks the role of other humans and the community.
Current learning theories and approaches emphasise the importance of social involvement for motivation, construction of knowledge, or as a source for support. For example, they play an important and central role in concepts based on constructivism: learning shall be a recursive, self-referential process and needs stimuli and challenge from others (Siebert 1998). For example, the approach of "community of practice" by Etienne Wenger (2004) is dealing with learning in social networks and interlinked structures of the World Wide Web. It is the combination of the following three elements that constitutes such a community of practice: (a) a shared domain or interest in which one does not necessarily need to know the others, (b) an engagement in joint activities and discussions, to help each other, and to share information and (c) the presence of practitioners and the development of a shared repertoire of resources as experiences, stories, tools, and ways of addressing recurring problems. According to Wenger (2004), the development of these three elements in parallel cultivates a community of practice. The PLE uses these possibilities for communities and creates new forms of interaction and collaboration.
More on PLE research

Mash- up PLE platform and Learner Interactive Scripting Language
This illumiates the debate about future ' instructional design' and whether we hinder individual learning and suffocate the prosumer.Vienna University argue's that there is no ‘perfect’ instructional designer: an environment can only be planned for the average learner, not the individual. Even good instructional designers had to gain their experience, had to make errors in the past to built up effective and efficient strategies. Moreover, in practice instructional designers are most often ‘only’ domain experts for a particular field of knowledge, no didactical experts. Second (and more important), planned adaptation takes experiences away from the learners: external planning keeps them from becoming competent, as it takes chances to self-organise away and personal discovery is prevented. Learners, however, are not only sense-makers instructed by teachers along a predefined path. Learners need to actively adapt their learning environment to their needs so that they can construct the competences necessary for successful learning. And facilitators can coach them on this way.

Diagramatic view: education.au (eportfolio) Listen to podcast Mind over Matter

Visit ePortfolios

Read TOMORROW'S PROFESSOR University of Stanford Centre for teaching and Learning writes about ePortfolios

POV Point of view

This is a great new way to build assessment based evidence into an eportfolio . Listen to AFLF ePortfolio presentation by Alison Miller at the AUPOV Conference held in Wollongong. June 2009 visit time2connect blog

‘Open sourced’ e-portfolios:

You can access these tools for ‘free’ by downloading them but they require server hosting and customisation:
Mahara -

Sakai - http://osportfolio.org/
Zope - http://www.zope.org/

If you have a Moodle instance then you could use the ‘exabis’ e-portfolio block plugin - http://docs.moodle.org/en/Exabis_e-portfolio_block

Visit VLE Moodle

Mahara as an eportfolio Interface with Moodle

Mahara provides a single-sign on capability that allows users, at the option of the administrator, to be automatically logged in to both their Mahara and Moodle accounts by providing a username and password at only one of these sites.
The user can sign on at Mahara, and click on a link to her Moodle account, or sign on at Moodle, and click on a link to her Mahara account.
The single-sign-on feature runs over an encrypted transport, and the user's passwords do not have to be shared between sites.


Mahara has been designed as a web application with a plug-in architecture. This means it is possible to scale the application up by separating hardware for search, database, file storage and web servers.
It is also possible to replicate each of these operational components to further scale the system upwards. In addition Mahara is designed to:
  • be load balanced across several web servers
  • have a share file data from a centralised file server
  • and have a separate database server.
This hosting set-up has proven scalability for similar systems like Moodle.


  • Mahara automatically detects system settings that a pose security threat.
  • Session key handling code has been tightly integrated with the core form/request APIs.
  • Provides database abstraction that prevents any database injection attacks and input validation that prevents script injection attacks.
  • User authentication can be tied to external systems such as student management systems or other databases such as their Student ID number.


  • Mahara is built using PHP web scripting language and leverages PHP5's OO features.
  • All plug-ins follow a consistent structure and inherit from a common base class (core functions of plug-ins are implemented once)
  • Mahara currently supports plug-ins for Artefacts, Authentication and Search. Therefore interoperating with an existing product simply requires the development of a plug-in.