Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The ePortfolio myth

Had a bit of a thought today about ePortfolios.  Yes, I know... not many people have terribly many thoughts about ePortfolios they're probably doing something else more interesting instead, me, however... I think about this stuff.  :o)

So... anyway... my thought.  It concerns the oft touted phrase you hear in, oh, probably the second breath after the word ePortfolio and that is 'supporting lifelong learning'.  Everyone's at it, from manufacturers of ePortfolios to bodies such as JISC.  I wondered to myself what do we really mean by that?  Lifelong?  Seriously???  ePortfolios have been around for a blink of an eye in educational terms and yet... suddenly... they support or even better, they 'harness' lifelong learning.  How can anyone make such grandiose claims?

I'm reminded a little of the BBC Doomsday Project which took place when I was a child in the 80s.  There we were, writing about our local areas... storing photographs and other snippets to make our mark in history.  It really was touted as a Doomsday Book Mark II from what I remember (I was one of the schoolchildren who participated in what was probably an early instance of wiki-esque generation of content!)... and yet... where is it now?  Lost to incompatibility and data preservation issues.  Published less than 25 years ago - hardly the average lifespan - and yet, gone.  Whizz forward a quarter of a century and here we are again spouting about 'supporting lifelong learning' with a technology which is unproven and lacks the basic interoperability standards to help it move towards any kind of sustainability.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury.  I put it to you that ePortfolio is being over-promoted off the back of an unsupportable claim, that of 'harnessing lifelong learning'.  Furthermore, I pronounce it 'guilty' as charged.

PS  I really don't care whatever it was I wrote for the Doomsday project back in 1984/85 - so, like old family photos, I'll leave leafing through my ancient bits of childhood work for dewy eyed relatives and continue moving forwards with an underpinning of experience, qualifications and confidence which doesn't need a 'lifelong' record of stuff to support.

PPS  You didn't see me say this... right?  ;o)

PPPS  I have a whole other theory about the currency of learning and the expiry date of 'evidence'.  But I'll save that ranty waffle for another day.
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