Product Roundup: An Electronic Portfolio Sampler

The promise of electronic portfolios (ePortfolios) has been a hot topic in some academic circles lately. And while the potential of organizing, assessing, and presenting work on the Web has been explored for almost a decade at some universities, it is only recently that a host of technology vendors have stepped in to meet the demand. This month we'll take a look at some of these new commercial products.

iWebfolio
Nuventive's iWebfolio is designed to help instructors evaluate student work through multiple portfolios created and maintained by the students. Students give faculty access to view and assess all material within a specific portfolio. To help manage portfolio submissions, iWebfolio allows faculty to create user groups for a specific course or class. To ensure students don't alter assignments after the due date, faculty can request students to "lock" their portfolios—once a portfolio is locked, students are unable to make changes for a specified time. Faculty members can also build portfolios. Institutions can use iWebfolio to create templates that match institutional goals and desired learning outcomes. In addition, they can import portfolios from iWebfolio into Nuventive's assessment software TracDat, which provides a structured framework for continuous quality improvement and assists with external accreditation.

Portfolios are housed on the Nuventive server. The cost is $40 per student per 50MB a year, with no cost to the faculty or administration. Users must use Internet Explorer 5.0 or higher or Netscape 6.0 or higher.

Contact: Nuventive, Pittsburgh, Penn.; (877) 968-0156; www.nuventive.com.

Folio
Folio by ePortaro is positioned as a cradle-to-career portfolio tool. Students deposit information into a central repository, the folio. This information comes in two types: documents—word processing, spreadsheet, graphic, or any other computer documents—and standard forms supplied by Folio or by the university for specific purposes, such as assessment or job history. Some of the information may also be provided by the university and "certified" as being correct, such as the student's GPA. The student then creates different portfolios for purposes using subsets of this data. A student might have three resume portfolios, a specific portfolio for each class, and a portfolio for their rugby team, all using data from the same central source. The student grants access to a portfolio to a person inside the institution by specifying his or her user ID, and to someone outside the institution by specifying an e-mail address. While Folio can be used for the standard purpose of submitting papers to be graded, its focus is on the broader uses of the ePortfolio.

Portfolios are generally housed at the university, though ePortaro also offers hosting services. All access is through Web browsers. The company uses the application software licensing model—it charges the university a one-time licensing fee and annual maintenance fees, both based on volume.

Contact: ePortaro, Herndon, Va.; (703) 220-6902; www.eportaro.com.

e-Portfolio
Chalk & Wire's e-Portfolio allows students and faculty without knowledge of Web design to create professional-looking portfolios that showcase their work. Users can choose from among a number of different designs, and can further customize their portfolio with photos from the included image bank. Like other products, e-Portfolio allows users to describe and reflect on their work. The software supports the creation of portfolios around standards such as INTASC or ATE. It also allows users to distribute e-resumes to appropriate readers or employers via e-mail. e-Portfolio can be bundled with Chalk&Wire's separate online assessment tool, RubricMarker, which offers tools to improve the quality of assessment.

Chalk & Wire portfolios may be stored on the institution's or on Chalk & Wire's servers. Users require a Web browser (Mac users also require FTP client software). Base cost is $12.50 to $58.50 per student based on volume.

Contact: Chalk & Wire, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; (877) 252-2201; www.chalkandwire.com.

FolioLive
FolioLive is textbook publisher McGraw-Hill's entry into the ePortfolio field. Focusing primarily on course-level assessment, FolioLive allows students to create password-protected Web-based portfolios in a few simple steps. Students organize their work using the "Frameworks" provided or can create their own customized design. Students can annotate submissions and can organize work around standards such as INTASC, NBPTS, and ISTE. FolioLive allows instructors to create a course site with links to student portfolios. The course site also contains a mechanism that enables instructors to comment on specific student work.

Portfolios are housed on the McGraw-Hill server and are accessed through a Web browser. Students can subscribe to FolioLive for one year and can renew thereafter. There is no cost to the university.

Contact: McGraw-Hill, New York, N.Y.; call your local representative, who can be found by clicking "Rep Locator" at www.mhhe.com or visit www.foliolive.com.

Web Folio Builder
TaskStream has introduced an ePortfolio package geared toward teachers. Teacher candidates can use Web Folio Builder to put together portfolios that can serve a variety of academic and professional functions.

Student teachers can submit work to instructors for assessment and can organize their work to demonstrate fulfillment of state and national standards. In addition, users can add resumes, descriptions of their teaching philosophy, lesson plans, and even videos of student-teaching experience for prospective employers to review. Portfolio contents can be updated and edited by the student at any time. Web Folio Builder is password protected; students share information with university-specified "reviewers," who can then assess the students' work and offer feedback. TaskStream also offers a related product, Web Page Builder, which allows instructors with no knowledge of HTML to publish their own Web sites. It includes templates for class Web pages, newsletters, and dynamic syllabi.

Portfolios are housed on TaskStream servers. As its name suggests, the product is Web-based; users need only a recent version of Internet Explorer or Netscape. Cost is $20 per user per semester or $40 per year, with multi-year discounts, and may be borne by the user or the university.

Contact: TaskStream, New York, N.Y.; (800) 311-5656; www.taskstream.com.

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