Arrived yesterday morning after traveling for more than 20 hours. After an afternoon nap, I had dinner with the local organizers of the ePortfolio Australia conference. Today, I met with faculty at RMIT who are interested in e-portfolios, primarily in the medical imaging program. There was one student present, who has been publishing his artistic works online, and his contribution was a valuable addition to the discussion. I also had an opportunity to see examples of some student portfolios (created with HTML authoring software), as well as some anonymous student feedback on the portfolio development process. They are taking the approach that the student should develop their own metaphor for their portfolio while including links to the program's required elements. The emphasis on creativity within an HTML format leaves the students freedom to express their personality, although in the survey many students complained about this lack of structure.
Our discussion focused on how to make the portfolio more than another assignment, to engage the learners in a more intrinsically motivating process and to see the relevance of their portfolios in the profession that they are preparing to enter. I further emphasized the "life skills" approach to using multimedia and web-based forms of communication in this century. But I also realized that I was talking to a small group that was at the cutting edge of portfolios at this institution. We have a long way to go to make the portfolio process accepted in the mainstream of formal higher education. But as we discussed, these activities are happening all around us, that if higher education doesn't start using some of these strategies, it will become more irrelevant to young learners in a digital age.
I am so impressed with the interest in digital storytelling here in Australia, with the Australian Center for the Moving Image (ACMI), Fraynework digital storytelling, and Once Upon a Time digital storytelling all here in Melbourne.