CheckPoint eLearning has reported that the ePortfolios Australia Conference 2012 will not be held this year. Apparently, this is due to circumstances beyond the control of the organising committee, along with the financial uncertainty within some Australian States as well as in that Continent’s educational sector.

It seems that – not so very long ago – e-portfolios were becoming increasingly fashionable ‘must haves’ for the learning community. In case you’re wondering, an e-portfolio is a tool to help people:

    • Record their achievements
    • Reflect on them
    • Create a personal development plan
    • Implement and manage that plan


It’s also a way in which people can share and engage with their community


The e-portfolio was developed by Dr Helen Barrett, of the University of Alaska, and was introduced in the early 1990s. There has been a divergence of developments between:

  • the USA, where, traditionally, there’s an emphasis on the external purpose for the e-portfolio;
  • the UK, where equal emphasis is given to the internal processes, developing the ability of the learner and ‘presentation’, which is usually for a formal assessment or to produce a CV, and
  • Europe, where the UK model is followed but with a greater emphasis on lifelong learning rather than institutional based learning.


Originally, the e-portfolio was seen entirely from the perspective of the individual but that was soon superseded by being seen from an employer perspective too. There are issues of:

  • Presentation – how and with whom should you share this information, bearing in mind that you may not want everyone to see everything that’s in your e-portfolio?
  • Learner control – if you’re going to use the e-portfolio, you must trust the system and believe that the system is secure.
  • Security
  • Interoperability standards – such as the IMS e-portfolio specification.


Issues connected with e-portfolios include:

  • If it’s a lifelong support tool, an individual e-portfolio could have 70 years of use – and be developed using technologies that haven’t yet been invented!
  • It must be learner-owned, with controlled public access to keep security issues to a minimum.
  • It’s important to remember that it’s a service, not a system.
  • There are many potential providers of e-portfolios.
  • E-portfolios will only become ‘mainstream’ when issues of interoperability are settled.


Sadly, none of these issues are going to be debated formally in Australia this year.