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The Digital Portfolio Initiative


Currently (Summer '04), McDANIEL COLLEGE is exploring how best to support the use of digital portfolios on campus. The Graduate Education Program already requires a "hard-copy" exit portfolio and is beginning to support a Digital Portfolio option for its graduates. Further, a number of instructors in several disciplines have begun to require portfolio-type projects and include portfolio-type assessments in their classes.

Our first goal in this initiative is to learn how best to build an infrastructure that will support a digital portfolio culture at McDaniel. Our second goal is to build it.

You can learn more about digital portfolios on college campuses by reading The Chronicle of Higher Education's "Creating Online Portfolios Can Help Students See 'Big Picture,' Colleges Say" and by exploring the American Association for Higher Education's Portfolio Search.

See also the collection of resources at the bottom of this page.

picture of female student sitting on a bench, reading a book and using a laptop

What is a Portfolio?

A portfolio is an organized, goal-driven collection of documentation that presents a student's growth and achievement over time (a semester or several semesters), typically collected in a notebook or folder.


  • offer instructors new ways of assessing students, as well as strategies for building learner-centered instruction
  • offer students new ways of demonstrating growth, learning, and competence
  • combine instruction and assessment
  • take instruction and assessment beyond the classroom to the "real world"
  • provide students with sophisticated ways of presenting themselves to employers and graduate schools.

What is a Digital Portfolio?

A digital portfolio offers digitized versions of the same artifacts found in hard copy portfolios. But unlike hardcopy portfolios, HyperMedia versions offer the ability to link to multiple artifacts and coordinate the presentation with audio and video. Further, digital portfolios are easier to update and easier to distribute (Web or CD-ROMs).

In a very real sense, a digital portfolio is nothing more than an organized and appropriately designed multimedia Web site.

Web Resources
ePortfolio Projects at other Colleges and Universities (ePort Consortium). Excellent collection of links that not only leads to ePortfolio programs at other schools, but also to ePortfolio articles, Web sites, discussions, ePortfolio software sites, etc.
EPortfolios: What's behind the hype? An article on UC Berkeley's LDP program report below
Leadership Development Program 2003-2004: Project: Student ePortfolios Regents of the University of California. Executive Summary of the report
The Electronic Portfolio Boom: What's it All About? Trent Batson. Syllabus Magazine
The Kalamazoo portfolio: reflections, connections, life A comprehensive college-wide application of portfolios. This site leads off to some fairly interesting resources, including examples of Web-based student ePortfolios that reflect the "whole college experience."
"Creating Online Portfolios Can Help Students See 'Big Picture,' Colleges Say" article from The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Portfolio Search at the American Association for Higher Education

Using Technology to Support Alternative Assessment and Electronic Portfolios by Dr. Helen C. Barrett. Dr. Helen C. Barrett is one of the primary proponents of Electronic Portfolios. Her Web site is full of information. The following articles are perhaps the most instructive:

The Prentice Hall Portfolio site offers a decent overview of the topic. The site offers some helpful information on Portfolio Assessment Rubrics as well.
Resources on Electronic Portfolio Assessment from The Texas Center for Educational Technology
Alverno's Diagnostic Digital Portfolio
AAHE Electronic Portfolio Resource Site. Includes the Portfolio Clearing House (database of Portfolio Programs), "Towards a Taxonomy of Electronic Portfolios", AN ELECTRONIC PORTFOLIO VIRTUAL COMMUNITY OF PRACTICE, and more.
Student Portfolios and Authentic Learning Outcomes Assessment (.doc)
Using Electronic Portfolios for Curriculum Assessment
Care to read Blogs about ePortfolios? Check out cogdogblog
Digital Portfolios:A Confluence of Portfolio Assessment and Technology in Teacher Education Quarterly, Winter 1998 David Georgi and Judith Crowe
Electronic Portfolios: A New Idea in Assessment. Lankes, Anna Maria D.


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