ePortfolio pre-study (phase 1)

Long Title: ePortfolio pre-study
Université de Genève
Domain: ELS
Status: finished
Start Date: 17.09.2010
End Date: 31.01.2011
Project Leader: P. Roth

What are the precise expectations and needs of Swiss Universities relating to e-Portfolio? This pre-study will deliver the necessary data to analyze the Swiss ePortfolio landscape and for developing a promising implementation plan.

Voir: phase 2 (PLEfolio)


The results of the prestudy show that institutions are currently evaluating the implementation process of ePortfolio by

  • implementing pilot courses based on a reflexive use of the tool,
  • offering their teachers to test the ePortfolio Mahara system or
  • planning to integrate ePortfolio modules directly into current portal or LMS (e.g., OLAT, ILIAS).

Two consensuses on the basic use could be identified:

  1. Allowing students to collect their productions (i.e., collecting artifacts).
  2. Guide the student to provide a reflective view of his/her productions (i.e., reflective learning activities).

Regarding the content itself, two types of information are wanted by learners:

  1. Reports of professional experiences (Professional Practice)
  2. List of skills acquired by students (soft and hard skills).

EPortfolio appears as a tool for "learning to learn" and for managing competencies (i.e., skills profile).

The needs expressed by the participants have also focused on providing documents (e.g., good practice, pedagogic scenarios, etc.) workshops, and training for teachers and learners on the various didactic usages of the portfolio (such as presentation, assessment, learning, PDP, etc.).
A more technical need expressed by the participants concerned the adaptation of Mahara for a better pedagogical usage. This could be done by adding templates, which would allow on the one hand the management of competency frameworks, and on another hand to help teachers to easily monitor the modifications made by the students.

Taking all the needs formulated by the professionals into account, the integration of the ePortfolio in the University of Geneva will be targeted according to three axes:

  1. By adapting the ePortfolio to the real needs of the teachers and students;
  2. By coaching its usage;
  3. By ensuring the interoperability and the sustainability of its contents.
In order to facilitate the use of Mahara at the university of Geneva as well as others Swiss universities, a Shibboleth module for Mahara was developed.

Initial Situation

An ePortfolio is characterized by its content, its purpose, the responsible(s) and the audience it is intended for. Types of porfolios based on their roles and their functions are Learning Portfolio, Presentation Portfolio, Assessment Portfolio or Career Portfolio. According to the institutional level to which it is linked, Portfolios may also be divided in Student, Teaching and Institutional Portfolios. Some more categorizations and several definitions characterizing an ePortfolio exist.

Many ePortfolio solutions are currently available. They provide a wide variety of uses, ranging from basic storage of artifacts to personal development planning. Such a diversity of tools and practices is also perceived among several Swiss institutions. Thus, while some institutions want to use an ePortfolio for its procured "validation of knowledge acquired through experience" (i.e., "Career e-portfolio"), others want to use the tool for purely learning purposes (i.e., "Teaching e-portfolio" ). Similarly, there is no consensus on the tools: some institutions are currently testing Mahara, others want to integrate an ePortfolio module onto their institutional LMS (e.g., OLAT and ILIAS).


In order to obtain a clear view of the needs of Swiss universities, we want to initiate this pre-study. In other words, we want to get the most up-to-date landscape concerned with

  • tools,
  • usages and
  • needs

coming from all Special Interest Group ePortfolio's members and other stakeholders. This enterprise will therefore require among other that each respondent answer the following questions:

  • Which ePortfolio are they working with?
  • For what purpose?
  • What are their pedagogical needs?
  • What are their technological needs?
  • Are there other needs?

Results from a previous survey will be taken into account.

At the end, the results of the pre-study will allow to categorize the needs on two levels:

  1. Institutional: needs formulated at the level of one institution
  2. Inter-institutional: needs expressed and shared by several institutions

This pre-study should also clarify the necessary ground needed for the launch of an implementation phase.