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July 09, 2007

Portfolio (n) ...

Amongst other things, Wordnet defines 'portfolio' as:

  • (n) portfolio (a large, flat, thin case for carrying loose papers or drawings or maps; usually leather) "he remembered her because she was carrying a large portfolio"
  • (n) portfolio (a set of pieces of creative work collected to be shown to potential customers or employers) "the artist had put together a portfolio of his work"; "every actor has a portfolio of photographs"

Interestingly, most dictionaries don't seem to include the second of these - the set of things in the case - which seems odd?  I guess we'd all be surprised to be handed someone's portfolio, only to find it was an empty case :-)

It seems logical then (to me at least) that any definition of 'e-portfolio' should build on this, albeit acknowledging the necessary 'evidence of learning' and 'digital' aspects - something like:

a digital collection of creative work, designed to show evidence of learning and/or ability.

This topic has recently surfaced again on the CETIS-PORTFOLIO@JISCMAIL.AC.UK mailing list (threads beginning here and here).  I have to confess to remaining somewhat bemused by why this seems such a contentious issue.  References on the list to 'e-portfolio functionality' hint (to me) of continued confusion between the 'thing' and 'services on the thing'.  A cash-machine is not cash, and does not offer cash functionality!

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