Summary: What not to do.
By Erik Driessen

Description: In a recent editorial, Geoff Norman wraps a serious message in a satirical format. Based on his long experience as an editor, Geoff provides researchers with Twelve tips on how to not get your paper published. With these tips he wants to prevent research remaining unpublished.

Geoff’s editorial inspired me to think of tips for e-portfolios for teachers. Since I started with e-portfolios, I have seen many successful e-portfolios, but I have seen as many examples of failed e-portfolios. These experiences helped me to reflect on the things that help to make an e-portfolio successful and which things to avoid. I have written these reflections up as Twelve tips on how to make your e-portfolio a failure:

Tip 1: All the neighbours have an e-portfolio, we should have one too
Ask yourself the question, which educational problem does the e-portfolio solve? And is there not a more simple solution for the problem than an e-portfolio?

Tip 2: One size fits all
To copy an already existing e-portfolio is a recipe for failure. Your e-portfolio should be adjusted to your curriculum and context.

Tip 3: Upload your e-portfolio and start
What the location is to the house, implementation is for the e-portfolio: it is a critical factor for success. Good e-portfolio use requires a proper introduction for your students and faculty, and after that a period of monitoring to be able to further adjust the e-portfolio to the local context.

Tip 4: Let students reflect and reflect and reflect and reflect
Reflection in the hands of enthusiastic educators often becomes an aim in itself. Reflection is critical for learning from experiences and for professional identity development, but don’t exaggerate. Reflective learning is not easy and students often don’t like it.

Tip 5: No reflection at all
See tip 4.

Tip 6: Let the information technology do the work
Although modern e-portfolios are intelligent systems that can provide feedback to your students, an e-portfolio won’t succeed without a teacher discussing it with the student.

Tip 7: Standardize your portfolio
Most teachers like to have control of students’ learning. However, standardization of the structure and content of the e-portfolio is not compatible with the individualistic nature of portfolios.

Tip 8: Standardize the assessment procedure
See tip 7.

Tip 9: Keep it open and vague
Students need clearly described goals, competencies, criteria and rubrics to get an idea what is expected of them.

Tip 10: Strive for comprehensiveness
If your students store everything in their e-portfolios, then you can be sure that their e-portfolios will be labour intensive for teachers and students. This tip works very well in combination with Tip 7.

Tip 11: Keep it formative
If you don’t make your e-portfolio part of the assessment, then you can be sure that your students and teachers will stop using them as soon as the other assessments are in sight.

Tip 12: Provide numbers
Scores have little meaning for the learning of students; be sure that your students’ e-portfolios contain meaningful narrative feedback.

As often is the case with reflections my twelve tips will probably raise more questions than provide answers. For people who are interested to read more on e-portfolios, more information on e-portfolios can be found here.