At the ePortfolio conference in Wellington


I’m sitting listening to Helen Barrett give the keynote presentation at the ePortfolio Conference in Wellington. An excellent overview of ePortfolios, what they are (or might be), where they are and where we might be headed with them.

Helen began her talk with reference to a picture created by Alan Devine based on the poem about the blind men who described an elephant – with each “seeing” quite a different picture depending on what part of the elephant they were in contact with. Helen’s point is that people see portfolios from their own point of reference, for instance, a medical school may use portfolios to support a high stakes assessment approach, while a primary school may focus on using portfolios to demonstrate growth over time.

The part of Helen’s talk that I’ve found particularly interesting is her linking of eportfolio concepts and the use of social networking software (Web2.0), leading to her idea of an ePortfolio “Mash-up” – loose pieces loosely joined, and her diagram (below) to describe this:


I’ve pondered this idea ever since Helen posted it on her blog site, and find myself increasingly drawn to it. Helen argues that the Web2.0 provides an architecture of interaction, in turn allowing for a pedagogy of interaction (ePortfolio2.0). I’m sure there’s a lot further thinking that will go into this concept – but when I consider how I see so many of these web2.0 tools being used I can see exactly what Helen is talking about. In my own experience, I use a range of web2.0 tools – Flickr for photos, GoogleDocs for documents, my blog for collections of ideas etc – all of which contain the artefacts of my personal and professional life and thinking. As Helen points out – I already have my portfolio – consisting of lots of pieces, loosely joined, each residing in its own system, and not all combined within a single system.

In light of this thinking, it will be interesting to see how the release of Mahara, the NZ-developed, open source ePortfolio tool, will be received later in this conference.

Heaps more to report on what Helen is sharing with us – but for more you can find Helen’s presentationonline here as a 336Kb PDF download.

Helen’s blog:

Helen’s website:

Helen and Evangeline Stefanakis will be in Christchurch on Tuesday 20 March at CORE to present a breakfast session from 7.45am and Evangeline will be running a workshop at CORE from 9.15 to midday, and another workship at the University of Canterbury in the afternoon. There are still spaces in these sessions if you’re interested in participating – simply phone the CORE office – 03 3796627

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