Critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, creativity, and innovation, which are some of the skills stressed by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21) are those that a citizen, living in a knowledge-based, highly technological society with strong international ties will need to have to function in our world.
If that is the case, then classrooms need to provide opportunities for students to become effective, independent and confident self-directed learners, who understand how they are learning, and are able to relate their learning to wider contexts, i.e. to situations outside of the classroom. Educational settings have to create opportunities where one can learn to articulate personal goals and evaluate progress towards the achievement of those goals and cultivate a positive attitude towards learning throughout life and teachers have to be able to assess those skills in learners or progress towards them.
Electronic portfolios (ePortfolios) have become very valuable tools, which help students (and teachers and other stakeholders) see their efforts and their progress towards attaining skills, knowledge, and expertise. The American Association of Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) states: “EPortfolios have now been identified as a high-impact practice and are in use in more than half of colleges and universities in the United States.” (AAC&U Website:EPForum)
As regards language classrooms and programs, though, digital or traditional portfolio assessment only slowly take root. Since we have used traditional and ePortfolios with our students for a quite a number of years – in two very distinct contexts – we would like to share what we learned in the hopes that more of our colleagues will join the community.