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An electronic portfolio is a type of portfolio created for a class which allows students to track and record their progress throughout a semester or year. Each student in a class will usually have his or her own portfolio, and this can be done in addition to standard physical papers and assignments or to replace them completely. The portfolio will serve as a way for a student to see the work he or she has done, as well as to compare work done late in a semester to what he or she did early on. An electronic portfolio could contain all the work a student has done in a class or may be a selection of his or her best work.
Sometimes called an “e-portfolio” or digital portfolio, an electronic portfolio often serves numerous purposes within the context of a classroom. The actual contents of the portfolio will typically vary depending on the type of class: a digital portfolio for an English class will usually contain papers written by a student, while an art class portfolio would likely be digital versions of artwork done in class. An electronic portfolio for a history class, on the other hand, could include different types of materials such as papers written, maps and time lines created by a student.
The creation of an electronic portfolio can also be used as a learning activity, since it typically incorporates the use of computers and similar technology into a classroom. Students can learn to use various types of software and hardware to create their portfolios, allowing the creation of the portfolio to be an important part of the process. The portfolio could be created early on in a semester and added to throughout the year, or it may be part of a final project prepared toward the end of a class. In either case, an electronic portfolio typically serves as a means to allow a student and the teacher to review his or her work throughout the year or semester.
Once finished, an electronic portfolio will usually include work from early in a class, work that was done throughout the semester or year, and work done near the end of the term. With all of these materials together in one place, it becomes easier for students to reflect on their work and see their growth throughout a semester or year. The teacher can also more easily see how students have developed, and comment on this development in a way that is authentic and meaningful for students. In some classes, these portfolios may ultimately be printed out and turned into final projects that allow students to understand what they have learned in a larger sense.