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Improving learning with electronic portfolios

ePortfolios contain an organised collection of completed work. An ePortfolio is synonymous to an artist's portfolio, in which an artist will construct a collection of their works that best conveys their style, skills and talent. In much the same way, an ePortfolio is a collection of evidence that demonstrates a learner's skills and competencies. It can also be used to determine the direction in which the learner is heading with their studies and help provide feedback or recommendations

What is dotFOLIO

The goal of the dotFOLIO project is to learn how people can use electronic portfolios for learning, particularly through reflection. In the process we have developed an open source ePortfolio application for the purpose of supporting lifelong learning. dotFOLIO can be used to construct a thoughtful collection of work and experience that leads to a desired outcome or educational goal. dotFOLIO provide all the functionality for this to happen, as well as allow learners to preserve more knowledge over time and to forge richer connections between their academic and work endeavours.

dotFOLIO differs to other ePortfolio applications in that each ePortfolio owner is issued a 'subsite' to use as their own personal Web space. This translates to a flexible environment for the creation and presentation of ePortfolios. The advantage of a personal Web space is to give the ePortfolio owner the freedom to think differently, and to give them control over how they present themselves and their ideas to others.

dotFOLIO aims to be standards compliant and as such, will implement the IMS Learner Information Package and IMS ePortfolio specifications. Conforming to ePortfolio specifications or standards that are open and non-proprietary will ensure the portability of data. Essentially this means you can export your portfolio from dotFOLIO, and import it into any other ePortfolio system that supports the IMS specifications.

dotFOLIO in Higher Education

Higher education institutions are made up of communities of 'learners' that include undergraduate and postgraduate students, as well as academics involved in professional development.

dotFolio provides higher education users with the following features:

  • Personal web space: learners can store and showcase their university or college learning experiences. dotFOLIO offers a simple interface for students to manage different types of content ('artifacts' such as presentations, blogs, etc.
  • Reflective writing tools: that help learners reflect on those artifacts (blogging tools for freestyle writing or form-based tools for more structured writing)
  • Access Management: allows the ePortfolio owner to invite people to view private presentations for the purpose of a job interview, or publish a presentation that is viewable by the public.
  • Certified assessments: provide verifiable evidence for skills and competencies.
  • Graduate attribute matrix: used to convey learning experiences at the university level.
  • Web service capabilities: for integration into an existing Learning Management System (i.e. WebCT, Blackboard and dotLRN).

dotFOLIO in Primary and Secondary Schools

Features include all of those mentioned above plus:

  • Story telling for teaching and learning: dotFOLIO will allow students to tell us - and their peers - their personal stories and reflect on them.
  • Report Cards: where students' parents can log-in to review and sign-off their children's report cards.

dotFOLIO in Corporations

  • Can be used to develop employee skills and competencies, and manage their development within the company.
  • Can be used to assess candidates for graduate positions or general recuitment.
  • Uses LDAP and PAM based authentication methods.
  • Includes Web service capabilities for integration with existing HR systems.

dotFOLIO Roadmap

The following table lists the functionality that can be expected for specific releases of dotFOLIO.

Release Functionality Comments
0.5 (July '05)
  • dotFOLIO administration tools
  • Blogger and RSS
  • File-storage
  • Graduate attribute matrix
  • LDAP and PAM authentication
  • Personal web space environment
  • Presentations and access management
A beta version will be made available in April 2005.

The system will be used by over 200 students between July and November.

1.0 (January '06)
  • dotLRN integration
  • Curriculum Central integration
  • Improved group management and privacy configurations
This release will use the feedback from students and academics who used v0.5
2.0 and beyond Report Writing tool.
We have a number of research ideas that we would like to discuss with possible partners.
Currently looking for funding*