Book Review: The Educational Potential of e-Portfolios: Supporting Personal Development and Reflective Learning

by Louellen Coker on September 22, 2008

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When I started my consulting business, I knew that to market myself, I had to go beyond having a strong paper-based portfolio. Consequently, my e-portfolio has been a major business goal and I look forward to reading anything on the subject. As the authors of The Educational Potential of e-Portfolios: Supporting Personal Development and Reflective Learning (Connecting With E-Learning) discovered when they began researching the use of e-portfolios in the classroom, there has been relatively little information published about the subject.

Stefani, Mason, and Pegler define the e-portfolio and explore its role in one’s educational and eventual professional development. Although the book’s primary audience is those in academia looking to establish the use of e-portfolios in an institute of higher education, everyone who engages in personal development and practices reflective learning will benefit from reading it.

Stefani and her coauthors feel that “E-portfolios may well be the tipping point that e-learning really needs to be a fully functioning approach to learning without the ‘e’!” (16) Supporting their claim with examples from successful programs from all over the world, the book describes how to use e-portfolios as a tool across the curriculum rather than a project of any particular course. Their goal is to help you be a part of creating a system-wide approach by which students take control of their own learning through
system-wide portfolios.

The authors describe the particulars of integrating e-portfolios into the curriculum and ensuring technological support. Their chapters guide you through each step of the process:

  • Getting started with e-portfolios
  • Course design using e-portfolios
  • E-portfolios and assessment of sudent learning
  • The e-portfolio as a tool for professional development
  • E-portfolios and inclusive learning
  • Software solutions for a complex concept
  • Relating other new technologies to the e-portfolio
  • E-portfolio futures

As a small business owner, occasional college instructor, and lifelong learner, I was concerned that this book would be too specialized for me to apply much of it to my business or personal development. The authors quickly allayed that fear. I discovered methods to adapt my eportfolio to make it more than just a showcase of my work and skills. I learned how to use an e-portfolio as a tool rather than an outcome in both my students’ development in the classroom and my personal development in my workplace.

The book’s content, organization, and accessibility make it a must-read for any instructor, manager, or individual interested in using e-portfolios as a tool for personal development and reflective learning.

The Educational Potential of e-Portfolios: Supporting Personal Development and Reflective Learning (Connecting With E-Learning). Lorraine Stefani, Robin Mason, and Chris Pegler. 2007. Abingdon, UK; New York, NY: Routledge. [ISBN 978-0-415-41214-8. 186 pages, including index. $35.98 USD (softcover).]

This book review first appeared in TechnicalCOMMUNICATION, Volume 55, Number 3, August 2008, p. 295. TechnicalCOMMUNICATION is the journal of the Society for Technical Communication.

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