Embedding e-portfolios for effective lifelong learning: a case study

Anne Wheeler, Rowena Yeats

Research output: Chapter in Book/Published conference outputChapter


Lifelong learning is a ‘keystone’ of educational policies (Faure, 1972) where the emphasis on learning shifts from teacher to learner. Higher Education (HE) institutions should be committed to developing lifelong learning, that is promoting learning that is flexible, diverse and relevant at different times, and in different places, and is pursued throughout life. Therefore the HE sector needs to develop effective strategies to encourage engagement in meaningful learning for diverse student populations. The use of e-portfolios, as a ‘purposeful aggregation of digital items’ (Sutherland & Powell, 2007), can meet the needs of the student community by encouraging reflection, the recording of experiences and achievements, and personal development planning (PDP). The use of e-portfolios also promotes inclusivity in learning as it provides students with the opportunity to articulate their aspirations and take the first steps along the pathway of lifelong learning. However, ensuring the uptake of opportunities within their learning is more complex than the students simply having access to the software. Therefore it is argued here that crucial to the effective uptake and engagement of the e-portfolio is embedding it purposefully within the curriculum. In order to investigate effective implementation of e-portfolios an explanatory case study on their use was carried out, initially focusing on 3 groups of students engaged in work-based learning and professional practice. The 3 groups had e-Portfolios embedded and assessed at different levels. Group 1 did not have the e-Portfolio embedded into their curriculum nor was the e-Portfolio assessed. Group 2 had the e-Portfolio embedded into the curriculum and formatively assessed. Group 3 also had the e-Portfolio embedded into the curriculum and were summatively assessed. Results suggest that the use of e-Portfolios needs to be integral to curriculum design in modules rather than used as an additional tool. In addition to this more user engagement was found in group 2 where the e-Portfolio was formatively assessed only. The implications of this case study are further discussed in terms of curriculum development.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication8th European Conference on e-Learning
Place of PublicationReading (UK)
PublisherAcademic conferences
Number of pages9
ISBN (Print)978-1-90663-851-1
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2009
Event8th European Conference on eLearning 2009 - Bari, Italy
Duration: 29 Oct 200930 Oct 2009


Conference8th European Conference on eLearning 2009
Abbreviated titleECEL 2009

Bibliographical note

The copyright is by permission of the authors.


  • lifelong learning
  • e-Portfolio
  • e-Learning
  • curriculum design
  • summative assessment
  • formative assessment


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