With the August, 2011Â upgrade to Blackboardâ€™s Service Pack 6 in Version 9.1, the Portfolio tool is now live and available to all NIU users.Â Bundled with Blackboardâ€™s Content Collection system, NIU students, faculty, and staff will now be able to assemble, present, and share their Portfolios online.Â This allows all students, faculty, and staff to document academic growth, highlight career evaluation, or demonstrate professional development.Â Portfolios can then be presented to individuals or groups of users.
Portfolios have long been used in higher education with a recent and natural transition occurring from paper-based to electronic.Â The benefits of electronic portfolios are numerous, and include ease of management, ease of ability to update information and artifacts, the ability to share with numerous people simultaneously, the ability to provide feedback, and the ability to easily store numerous artifacts.
Aside from the convenience factor that electronic portfolios provide, their uses and applications in higher education are significant.Â Perhaps most importantly, â€œe-portfolios can help address the call to facilitate and document authentic learning experiencesâ€ (Reese & Levy, 2009).Â Through the assembly of and reflection on portfolio artifacts, learning outcomes become transparent to both the student and the faculty member.
Blackboardâ€™s portfolio toolÂ provides up to 300 MB of file storage toÂ each student.Â Faculty and staff have up to 500 MB of storage each.Â The interface and functionality of the tool is the same for all users, and as long as users are actively affiliated with NIU, they will have access to their portfolios.Â If a student or faculty member leaves NIU, their portfolios can be exported for offline access outside of Blackboard or archived to a remote storage device, preserving both the content areas and the artifacts themselves.Â Additionally, because the portfolio tool resides within Blackboard’s Content Collection system, portfolios are not dependent upon enrollment statusÂ in a Blackboard course.
The owner of the portfolio controls who has access to the portfolio.Â In order for a person to view anotherâ€™s Blackboard portfolio, the owner will grant access to view and optionally to comment on his or her work.Â Both NIU users and external users can be granted access.
In the coming months, Blackboard will enable a variety of themes, making it easier for users to personalize the look and feel of their portfolio.Â Additionally, the provision of â€œcertified artifactsâ€ that are commented on by faculty can be highlighted and represented by the student as point-in-time work.
For more information, visit http://www.niu.edu/blackboard/assess/portfolios.shtml
Reese, M. & Levy, R. (2009). Assessing the future: E-Portfolio trends, uses, and options in higher education. Research Bulletin 4, CO: EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research, Boulder. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ecar