I just watched Arianna Huffington's interview on Charlie Rose Show, December 4, 2008, where she talked about blogging and the new book just published by her and the editors at Huffington Post. I'm one of those new readers of her blog site, getting hooked during the election campaign beginning in August 2008. I think blogs have had a huge impact on our political discourse; Arianna Huffington credits Obama's use of the Internet and social networking with his election as the 44th President of the United States.
Huffington said that blogging is successful because it is an intimate, conversational form of writing (first thoughts, best thoughts) and "the key is really to find your voice and to find your passion. That's what makes a good blog." These ideas support my opinion that a form of blogging should be included in any ePortfolio process: it provides a conversational form of writing that is essential for reflection and deep learning, which I believe is part of the "heart and soul" of a portfolio. I am promoting the concept of two portfolios: the Working Portfolio, which WSU calls the "workspace" or some schools have called the [digital] shoebox; and any number of Presentation Portfolios (depending on purpose and audience) which WSU calls the "showcase" and schools call "showtime!" In order to build more formal presentations, we need the digital archive or the storage of work samples (collection) to draw upon (selection) for inclusion in these presentations. Reflection takes place at two points in time: when the piece of work (an artifact) is saved in the digital archive (a contemporaneous reflection while the work is fresh on our minds)... thus the role of the blog; and when (and if) this piece is included in the more formal presentation/showcase or assessment portfolio. The reflection written at this point of time is more summative or cumulative, providing a much broader perspective on a body of work that represents the author's goals for the showcase portfolio. Technologically, selection would involve creating a hyperlink to specific blog entries (reflection) which may have documents (artifacts) as attachments.
These two types of reflection involve two levels of support for reflection: the reflection in a blog would focus on a specific piece of work or learning experience (such as in service learning), and what has been learned while the experience is very fresh or immediate. The reflection in a presentation portfolio is more of a retrospective as well as an argument, providing a rationale that a collection of work meets specific outcomes or goals (related to the goal of the portfolio).
Most ePortfolio systems tend to emphasize the showcase (portfolio as product) rather than the workspace (portfolio as process). There are also two different types of organization: Blogs are organized in reverse chronological order; most showcase portfolios are organized thematically, around a set of learning goals, outcomes or standards. Both levels of reflection and organization are important, and require different strategies for supporting different levels of reflection.