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Deepening High-Impact Learning

January 29, 2011 / San Francisco
Held in conjunction with AAC&U's 2011 Annual Meeting

Forum Presentations and Materials Now Available Online

We are pleased to announce that videos of the E-Portfolio Forum plenary sessions – and resources from the concurrent sessions – are now available online.  We thank our colleagues at ePortfolio California—with support from Digication and 3C Media Solutions—who made this possible.  These presentations are hosted on the ePortfolio California website. 


Large Scale ePortfolio Implementation on a Slim Budget
Gail Ring, Director, ePortfolio Program, Clemson University

The Fragile Dream: ePortfolio, At-Risk Students, and College Success
J. Elizabeth Clark, Professor of English, LaGuardia Community College, City University of New York

Compared to What? Accountability, Improvement, ePortfolios, and Honoring the Learner
Gary Brown, Former Director, Office of Assessment and Innovation, Washington State University

The video of the Opening Plenary by Melissa Peet (University of Michigan) is forthcoming. 

Videos, materials, and resources pertaining to the concurrent sessions will be released incrementally beginning in May.  All sessions will be archived for future reference on the ePortfolio California website.

Balancing Student-centered Portfolios with Assessment Using Open Source Tools

Students Ask: "Do Portfolios Have To Be E?" Fundamental First Steps for Successful Learning Portfolios

Growing an ePorticulture: Steps to Planting and Sustaining Deeper Learning and Assessment with ePortfolios

Generative Knowledge Portfolio

We also refer you to the Generative Knowledge Portfolio, which was created by Digication. The purpose of the portfolio was to provide a place for attendees of the Forum to share in a central location their insights, lessons learned, and collaborations. The Portfolio is divided into sections such as “Real-Time Reflections” with texts and voicemails, tweets, and Facebook postings from Forum participants; and “Portfolio Scholars” – goals, reflections, and next steps as noted by Forum speakers and others.

AAC&U E-Portfolio Forum: January 28, 2012, in Washington, DC

We are pleased to announce that the 2012 E-Portfolio Forum will be held Saturday, January 28, in conjunction with AAC&U’s 2012 Annual Meeting. The Annual Meeting will be held January 25-28, 2012, in Washington, DC. The Call for Proposals—including an opportunity to submit a presentation for the E-Portfolio Forum—will be available at the beginning of June.

Thank you again to ePortfolio California, Digication, and 3C Media Solutions – and to you for your participation. We hope to see you again in January.



The E-Portfolio Forum was jointly sponsored by AAC&U’s project, VALUE: Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education; and the Association for Authentic, Experiential and Evidence-Based Learning (AAEEBL).



Saturday, January 29, 8:15 a.m. – 4:45 p.m

AAC&U's second annual e-portfolio event—The E-Portfolio Forum: Deepening High Impact Learning—once again exposes participants to the core issues of the e-portfolio field, including reflection, implementation challenges, and assessment. Whether you see yourself as a beginner, intermediate, or advanced participant, we invite your involvement.

The Forum will offer a highly interactive set of sessions, progressively more in-depth throughout the day, combined with three compelling keynotes from e-portfolio leaders doing cutting edge work in the field. Their pioneering content is specifically designed to address today’s most challenging e-portfolio issues and provide new solutions for old problems.

Please join us as we focus on how e-portfolio best practices can be integrated into the work on your campus—changing minds, improving programs, and ensuring success.



8:15–9:30 am

Welcome and Opening Plenary:
Generative Learning: Educating Students to Connect Academic Concepts with the Knowledge They Are Gaining from Real Life
Melissa Peet, Academic Director, Mportfolio Project, University of Michigan

In order to learn for life, students must first learn how to identify the knowledge and skills they are gaining from life. One fundamental challenge to this goal is the fact that the knowledge people gain from life experiences is tacit and therefore unconscious in nature. Although many scholars believe tacit knowledge is essential for innovation, creativity, competent practice and lifelong learning, it is difficult to identify, share and develop. This keynote will address this gap by providing an overview to the principles, research and practices related to “Generative Learning” - a teaching, assessment and eportfolio methodology that supports students in integrating the explicit (conscious and formal) knowledge they’ve gained in their academic courses, with the tacit (unconscious and informal) insights, skills and capacities they’ve acquired from life experience. This methodology was developed at the University of Michigan and is now part of MPortfolio Process – a campus-wide eportfolio effort. Participants will also be able to take part in a brief Generative Learning exercise.

9:45–10:45 am
Concurrent Sessions

Best Practices
Balancing Student-centered Portfolios with Assessment Using Open Source Tools
This session will describe the use of a teacher candidate assessment system built around a free blogging tool to create a portfolio designed to allow students to demonstrate their competence in relationship to the Washington State knowledge and skills for teachers. It also uses off-the-shelf tools to allow the program administrators to aggregate the data for purposes of program assessment. Presenters will describe the blog format and describe the processes used in assessment of the blogs. In addition, they will share examples of student blogs that have been completed and that are currently in progress. The session will conclude with a small group interactive session where participants can brainstorm with each other about how they might apply the information shared to their situation.
Frank Kline, Professor, Associate Dean, and Helen Barrett, Adjunct Researcher and Consultant on Electronic Portfolios – both of Seattle Pacific University
Link to Power Point Presentation

Best Practices
Reflection in a Virtual ePortfolio Learning Community
Responding to claims that students’ undergraduate experiences are dis-integrated and fragmented, the Carnegie Foundation and Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) have addressed the challenge of fostering integrative learning in education by initiating projects that focus on supporting the student’s ability to pursue learning in more intentional, connected ways.  To this end, QCC uses the ePortfolio platform to create virtual learning communities focused on integration and interdisciplinarity. In this session, the presenters will recount an innovative pedagogy involving students from different courses reflecting on artifacts from their disciplinary perspective within the eportfolio. Once the concept is explained, session attendees will participate in it. This revolutionary program provides students with an increased ability to understand the importance of content on the internet and teaches them deep reflection—one of the primary practices needed to create lifelong learners and create integration. Widely applicable, this brilliant approach would solve problems for students and would improve eportfolio practices in any program, on any campus.
Jean Darcy, Associate Professor, English Department, and Michele Cuomo, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs – both of Queensborough Community College

Turning Fences Into Gates
ePortfolio Communities of Practice
The University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) is facing the challenge of how to get students to use ePortfolio in a sustained manner throughout their studies that facilitates the development of increasingly more sophisticated levels of folio thinking. UMD is doing this through the use of ePortfolio learning communities. This interactive workshop will explore how ePortfolio software can be enhanced with the inclusion of community of practice features. A model of folio thinking will be presented in conjunction with two examples of ePortfolio learning communities to demonstrate how community of practice features are being integrated with ePortfolio software. Using these two examples to stimulate ideas, participants will identify and discuss learning community features in ePortfolio software that contribute to learning through documentation, reflection, and assessment.
Paul Treuer, Associate Professor, Director, Knowledge Management Center, and Jill Jenson, Associate Professor and Head, Department of Writing Studies – both of University of Minnesota Duluth

Steps (First Steps, Baby Steps, Next Steps)
Student Work Matters: A Student Centered Approach to e-Portfolio Implementation
In this session, co-founder and CEO of Digication, Jeffrey Yan, will provide a brief case study of two institutions, Boston University and Tunxis Community College, that have successfully implemented a student centered approach to e-Portfolios. While these institutions have different implementation goals, accreditation and assessment requirements, and markedly different profiles, they share a similar focus on the student success. This session will highlight the steps these institutions have taken to enable student success, exemplary e-Portfolios created by students, assessment strategies and the support systems available to students and faculty on campus to support their goals. After the presentation, participants will take part in group discussions and begin developing their own ideas and action plans for their institution.
Jeffrey Yan, Co-founder and CEO, Digication
Link to Student Work Matters Presentation

Steps (First Steps, Baby Steps, Next Steps)
Strategies for Identifying and Understanding Stakeholders in a Successful ePortfolio Implementation
A critical first step for individuals and institutions who are designing an ePortfolio project is to identify both internal and external project stakeholders, such as students, faculty, technology support staff, and even prospective employers and alumni. Understanding how these different constituent groups can contribute to and also benefit from ePortfolios can inform the design of ePortfolios and how they are integrated, scaled and integrated into the culture of the institution. This session will use case studies and prompting questions to help participants identify the needs of the ePortfolio stakeholders on their own campus and brainstorm strategies to address them.
Helen L. Chen, Research Scientist, Stanford University, Tracy Penny-Light, Assistant Professor, Sexuality, Marriage, and Family, University of Waterloo

11:00–12:15 pm
Concurrent Sessions

Best Practices
Effective Strategies for Successful ePortfolio Initiatives
At TaskStream, we have worked closely with programs and schools of all sizes on hundreds of eportfolio implementations over the last decade. Through this work, we have seen several common challenges and best practices emerge, such as the importance of planning, leadership, support, accountability, and community engagement. In this session, we will discuss these common challenges and share examples of effective strategies employed by some of our client institutions.
Dara Wexler, Education Solutions Specialist, TaskStream
Effective Strategies for Successful ePortfolio Initiatives Power Point Presentation (PDF)
For additional information, please visit

Best Practices
Student Outcomes as Academic Currency: A New Institutional Context for ePortfolios
The implicit message of ePortfolios to both students and faculty is that the personal, professional, and intellectual development of each individual student matters. Meanwhile, there are two other loud institutional messages: the larger institutional context of the credit system continuously communicates to students that what matters is the accumulation of course credits and grades, and the assessment imperative communicates to faculty that what matters are snapshots of aggregated data (even samples of data) that are entirely oblivious to individual students. In that mix of conflicting messages, ePortfolios in an institution may not achieve their academic potential or be easily sustained over time. However, a new unexpected opportunity is coming into focus. The growing sophistication of electronic technology is now making it feasible for faculty-defined expected student outcomes-for-graduates and explicit criteria for their evaluation (such as LEAP / VALUE) to become the academic currency by which student achievement, simultaneously individual and collective, is tracked. The emphasis of the session is on what practical steps can be taken to introduce outcomes-as-currency into an institution.
David Shupe, Chief Innovation Officer, eLumen Collaborative
Student Outcomes as Academic Currency Power Point Presentation (PDF)

Turning Fences Into Gates
Making Connections: Lessons Learned from a Multi-Campus ePortfolio Collaboration
Active from 2007-2010, LaGuardia’s FIPSE-funded Making Connections seminar supported 30 NYC area colleges (from community colleges to major research universities) as they planned and piloted ePortfolio programs. This session will present the seminar’s strategies and structures, investigating how sustained collaboration can support emerging campus projects. Teams from Making Connections campuses will meet with small groups, answering questions about their experiences in the seminar and on their campuses, discussing strategies for solving problems and building ePortfolio projects. Center leaders will discuss lessons learned and point forward to next steps -- an exciting FIPSE-funded national collaboration, the Connect to Learning project.
Bret Eynon, Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs, Executive Director, Making Connections National Resource Center, and Judit Torok, Program Associate, Making Connections National Resource Center – both of  LaGuardia Community College, CUNY; Trent Batson, Executive Director, The Association for Authentic, Experiential and Evidence Based Learning (AAEEBL)

Steps (First Steps, Baby Steps, Next Steps)
eLearning to Learn: The Pedagogical Role of ePortfolios in an Online Learning Strategies and Skills Course
Students developing effective learning and motivation strategies is a key to success in college, and in recent years the ability to skillfully use online tools and resources has become an equally important demand. When students lack sufficient knowledge of or experience with strategic Internet use, academic performance and time management suffer. In light of lessons learned from developing and teaching a college success course to address such issues, the presenter will illustrate how ePortfolios are uniquely suited to develop undergraduates’ self-regulated learning and self-efficacy for technology use. Attendees will reflect upon how, at their institutions, ePortfolios can help students achieve similar goals.
Lauren Hensley, Coordinator of Learning Services, Walter E. Dennis Learning Center, The Ohio State University
eLearning to Learn Power Point Presentation (PDF)

Steps (First Steps, Baby Steps, Next Steps)
Students Ask "Do E-Portfolios Have to Be E?" Fundamental First Steps for Successful Learning Portfolios

The power of reflection in enhancing learning is the heart of portfolio projects that engage students in deep learning. But do portfolios have to be electronic to achieve such transformative learning? Come listen to students join a professor in discussing first-step fundamental principles of successful learning portfolios which can lead later to more complex electronic versions. Do students think portfolios are meaningful, worthwhile, relevant, or essential? What do students say about the role of reflection in their learning and the intellectual and practical merits of portfolios in creating significant learning experiences? Join the conversation with students!
John Zubizarreta, Professor of English, Director of Honors & Faculty Development, President, National Collegiate Honors Council, Diana Lynde, Student, DeAnna Rich, Student, Katie Rose, Student, Columbia College

12:30–1:45 pm

Turning Fences into Gates Panel:

Challenge or Opportunity: Large Scale ePortfolio Implementation on a Slim Budget
Clemson University has been one of the early adopters in the use of ePortfolios for assessing general education. And, like many universities, Clemson has struggled with how to manage a large-scale implementation with limited resources and has employed a number of creative solutions to this problem. This keynote will address how Google Apps and Google Docs play a role in Clemson’s university-wide implementation.
Gail Ring, Director, ePortfolio Program, Clemson University

The Fragile Dream: ePortfolio, At-Risk Students, and College Success
For students who are seemingly at-risk at every level – academically, economically, socially, and culturally – higher education can seem like an endlessly imposing chain-link fence with no entrance. E-portfolio and digital authorship have played a key role at LaGuardia Community College in helping students transition from gatekeeper courses into their major area of study. Their ePortfolios serve as roadmap, record, and traveling curriculum vitae, following students from course to course and charting their journeys. And now it has also begun to serve as a passport, when students transfer to a 4-year college. What does it look like to create an e-portfolio program for every student, even the most academically underprepared student, and to shape their educational experiences using e-portfolio as a critical point of access into the world of higher education?
J. Elizabeth Clark, Professor of English, LaGuardia Community College City University of New York

2:00–3:30 pm
Concurrent Sessions

Best Practices
ePortfolios, Liberal Learning, and First-Generation Students: Teaching and Assessing Reflection

The presenters team-teach a senior seminar in which students develop ePortfolios that include reflection on liberal learning, career, citizenship, and identity in a global economy and society. Participants will learn about approaches to prompting meaningful, integrative reflective writing, assessing reflection, and addressing challenges to fostering global understanding, especially among first-generation students. Participants will evaluate and discuss examples of reflective writing by students at different stages of their education, using a reflection rubric, and will brainstorm ideas for applying these approaches at their local campuses.
Susan Kahn, Director of Institutional Effectiveness, Adjunct Professor of English, and Karen Ramsay Johnson, Associate Professor of English, American Studies, and Women’s Studies – both of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

Best Practices
Growing an ePorticulture: Steps to Planting and Sustaining Deeper Learning and Assessment with ePortfolios

This interactive workshop will share practical strategies for starting, sustaining, and harvesting evidence of student learning through an ePortfolio program. Drawing on six years of experience working “from the ground up” at San Francisco State University, we will share examples and resources from our ePortfolio projects. Themes with supporting case stories will include: Successful "planting" tips with getting-started steps and examples of discipline specific portfolios; maintaining and growing, with examples of "mapping" and "tagging" student work to learning outcomes at course, program, and institutional levels; harvesting student work through Capstone courses and strategies for the use of portfolios in program reviews.
Ruth Cox, ePortfolio Departmental / Faculty Liaison, Lecturer in Health Education, Kevin Kelly, Manager, Online Teaching & Learning / Media Distribution & Support, Tanya Augsburg, Assistant Professor of Liberal Studies, Angie Portacio, Academic Technology Consultant, Maggie Beers, Director, Academic Technology – all of San Francisco State University
EPorticulture Power Point Presentation (PDF)
For more details, please visit:

Turning Fences Into Gates
Strategic Planning for ePortfolio Success: Using Lessons Learned at Virginia Tech to Inform Your Next Steps

Virginia Tech has had exceptional success regarding grassroots and institutional adoption of ePortfolio; however, this did not happen overnight or by accident. In this session, participants will hear the behind-the-scenes story of the ongoing strategic planning that took an ePortfolio project from pre-pilot with a handful of interested faculty to an institutionally embraced initiative impacting the entirety of the undergraduate student population. With this narrative as the backdrop, participants will be guided through strategic planning activities that will enable them to return to their campuses with ideas, plans, and strategies to ensure the adoption of their own ePortfolio initiative.
C. Edward Watson, Associate Director, Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research (CIDER), Virginia Tech
Strategic Planning for ePortfolio Success Power Point Presentation (PDF)

Steps (First Steps, Baby Steps, Next Steps)
Stepping Together: Integrating the Principles of Lifelong and Life-wide Learning into Institutions, Courses and Assessment Practices

This workshop is designed to create a reflective and generative space for participants to think broadly about what it means to incorporate lifelong and life-wide learning into institutions, programs and courses, and what that integration means in terms of authentic assessment of learning. The workshop includes perspectives from three diverse institutions on the meaning of lifelong and life-wide learning, and how these institutions transformed courses, programs and assessment practices for the better. Participants will have the opportunity to begin working with a well-tested process for transforming courses/programs using a variety of teaching and assessment strategies, including the AAC&U VALUE Rubrics.
Laura Reynolds-Keefer, Assistant Professor, University of Michigan-Dearborn; Nancy Pawlyshyn, Chief Assessment Officer, Mercy College; Melissa Peet, Academic Director, Mportfolio Project, University of Michigan

Steps (First Steps, Baby Steps, Next Steps)
Zero to 10,000 Quality ePortfolios in Six Easy Steps: Gen Ed ePortfolios at Salt Lake Community College

How did an urban, comprehensive community college design and implement an ePortfolio initiative centered in its General Education program? All students at SLCC are making ePortfolios that archive signature assignments and reflective writing from each Gen Ed course. Students also put their goals, extra-curricular activities and resumes into the ePortfolio. This presentation shares six key design principles and shows exactly how those principles translated into actual practice at Salt Lake CC—and how you can incorporate them in your institution’s ePortfolio program.
David Hubert, Dean of General and Developmental Education, Salt Lake Community College

3:45–4:45 pm
Final Keynote and Closing Remarks

Compared to What? Accountability, Improvement, ePortfolios and Honoring the Learner and the Learning
Gary Brown, Director, Office of Assessment and Innovation, Washington State University

There is, as Peter Ewell has recently observed, a tension between accountability and improvement. Batson elaborates, noting the “parallel realization is dawning that tracking student outcomes toward learning goals, while a useful and necessary exercise, does not yield as much value as we had thought.” Batson argues that “developing an accountability system has provided rewards to faculty and student painfully insufficient to warrant the work such development requires.” Batson argues that ePortfolios provide a rich alternative. This presentation will demonstrate with real student ePortfolio case studies nested within the context of organizational ePortfolio to provide an example that suggests Batson’s assertion may be premature, the divide he draws problematic, and the virtues ascribed to ePortfolios in need of critical qualification. Accountability, accreditation, and improvement need not be at odds. Assessment properly understood is inextricable from teaching and learning. Yet without organizational development or learning to that end, ePortfolios, like the LMSs of the last century, will be co-opted for painfully insufficient assessment management and fail to realize Batson’s vision, well described by Vygotsky as an education that “honors the learner and the learning.”

Works Cited
Ewell: Assessment, Accountability, and Improvement: Revisiting the Tension
Batson: ePortfolios, Finally!


Melissa Peet

Melissa Peet is the Academic Director for the Integrative Learning and MPortfolio Initiative at the University of Michigan. Her research focuses on understanding the types of knowledge, curricula, and learning methods that support students in becoming effective leaders, entrepreneurs and change agents. From her research, Dr. Peet created the Integrative Knowledge Portfolio Process, a method of integrative learning that supports students in connecting, reflecting on, and synthesizing knowledge and skills from all areas of life. Dr. Peet is currently exploring the role tacit knowledge (unconscious and informal ways of knowing) plays in the development of leaders, innovators and extraordinary practitioners across several fields and disciplines. She has recently developed a methodology, Generative Knowledge Interviewing, for retrieving the tacit knowledge that exists within people—from novices to experts—and is in the process of integrating this methodology with the Integrative Knowledge Portfolio Process on campuses across the country.

Gail Ring

Gail Ring is the Director of the ePortfolio Program at Clemson. Her research interests involve the study of innovation diffusion in an academic setting, specifically as it relates to the use of digital portfolios in a K-20 environment. She has worked with electronic portfolios in an academic setting for over 10 years. Over the years Gail has taught a variety of graduate and undergraduate courses in instructional technology and has implemented and managed large-scale electronic portfolio projects and faculty development activities in two major universities. She has written and presented extensively on ePortfolios, learning and assessment, and has consulted with universities and school districts across the US and abroad on the implementation of electronic portfolios in teacher education.

J. Elizabeth Clark

J. Elizabeth Clark, Professor of English at LaGuardia Community College City University of New York, teaches composition, creative writing, and the capstone course in the Liberal Arts. Her scholarly interests include ePortfolio, digital rhetoric, 20th century American poetry, and the poetry of HIV/AIDS. She has been part of the dynamic LaGuardia ePortfolio team since 2002. She is active on the college’s assessment committee, the college’s technology committee, the learning communities program, and the writing program, serving as its co-director from 2004–2010. She works closely with the Center for Teaching and Learning at LaGuardia, leading year-long professional development seminars, most recently on effective capstone courses. Her critical and creative work has appeared in journals such as: Peer Review, Computers & Composition, Women’s Studies Quarterly, The Minnesota Review, The Comstock Review, and A&U: America's AIDS Magazine. She serves on the executive board of the Conference on Basic Writing and is on the editorial boards of College Composition and Communication and Radical Teacher.

Gary Brown

Gary Brown directs the Office of Assessment and Innovation at Washington State University. Gary has written and presented extensively on undergraduate learning, assessment, and technology. He was the lead developer for the FIPSE funded WSU Critical Thinking Project, and, in collaboration with the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) he joins with colleagues from a variety of professional associations on the Evidence of Impact project. With WSU colleagues, has been the recipient six NUTN best research awards on studies ranging from course design, engaging diverse stakeholders, and on faculty attitudes and motivation for using ePortfolios. He was a National Learning Communities fellow and the assessment section editor for Innovate. Gary directs the OAI Skylight project, which is the engine that powers Flashlight Online for the TLT-Group. He also served on the Washington State Governor’s Task Force presaging the establishment of a statewide Digital Learning Commons. His current work focuses primarily on the assessment of student learning outcomes for accreditation and, more importantly, for engaging faculty in efforts to improve program coherence and student learning.

E-Portfolio Forum Program Committee

Trent Batson, AAEEBL
Helen Chen, Electronic Portfolio Action and Communication (EPAC), Stanford University
Jean Darcy, Queensborough Community College
Wende Morgaine Garrison, AAC&U
Melissa Peet, University of Michigan
Tracy Penny-Light, University of Waterloo
Terry Rhodes, AAC&U
Gail Ring, Clemson University
Marc Zaldivar, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University