Webfolio (Electronic Portfolio) Project

Donna Reiss
Active Learning Online

Project Objectives

To make learning visible to themselves, classmates, their teacher, and others, students in my composition, literature, and humanities classes construct an instructional digital portfolio called a Webfolio. This culminating project is centered around a substantive reflective hypertext essay where students synthesize and publish their thinking and writing, thereby demonstrating learning as both process and product. We use a protocol of collection, attention, selection, composition, connection, reflection, collaboration, representation, and publication. Students and I are able to assess their evolving understanding of course content as well as their understanding of the rhetorical features of composing in and for various media and audiences.

KC's Webfolio Artifact: Art and Technology Project
KC's Webfolio: Art and Technology Project

  • Collection, attention, selection: Students gather the work they have done during the class, review carefully looking for examples that demonstrate their thinking and learning.
  • Composition, connection, reflection: Active reflection is manifested in a culminating essay that identifies learning and synthesizes course activities. Students identify and connect their academic and career interests and goals for an electronic resume or online college record at the same time they synthesize their activities and learning during a course. The Reflective Hypertext Essay establishes coherence, and connections among ideas and people are visible through hyperlinks to their own and others’ online work.
  • Collaboration: Review of each other's works in progress and citation of each other's work honors their participation in a community of learners.
  • Representation or performance, publication : Students perform ongoing active reflection and publish a culminating reflective composition with hyperlinks to their own and others’ online work, including appropriate media. They publish evidence of processes as well as products.

When the project began in 1996, students previously unfamiliar with computers learned basic hypertext markup language and used my templates. Because personal computers are now so much a part of contemporary culture and higher education, templates are no longer necessary. Students may use any accessible tools for developing a collection of artifacts linked from their reflective hypertext and linked to each other as appropriate.

Students are encouraged but not required to publish their Webfolios online; they may submit on a CD or use another presentation format such as slides or video. Nonetheless, most students do post their projects in our online Webfolio Gallery. Some of my classes meet entirely online. Although online students have not met in person, they have come to know each other during the semester through online discussions and collaborative online writing workshops. Publishing their Webfolios for classmates and families both complements and extends their learning community.

Webfolio Templates and Electronic Portfolio Resources

  • Originally, I developed templates and lengthy step-by-step directions for my Webfolio Project site. In 1995 and 1996, the only resources I could find for students were meant for Web page development rather than for a collection of artifacts that both engaged and demonstrated learning. The initial project, process, and templates were revised several times and demonstrated at professional presentations and workshops. Students and teachers made valuable suggestions for updates.
    • By the late 1990s, graphical Web composers and editors became sufficiently widespread that we began using the free Composer within Netscape Communicator. Students could choose to use any Web editor they had access to.
    • Since the turn of the twenty-first century, word processors have made conversion to Web pages as well as editing so easy that students have less need for separate Web editors unless they want to develop a more sophisticated Webfolio than the minimum requirement.
  • The Webfolio Overview for my most recent classes describes basic expectations, a review and revision process, submission criteria, and some simple design notes.
  • An Introductory Reflective Hypertext Essay has become the focus for our Webfolio. This substantial composition synthesizes student learning, identifies or establishes coherence among the activities of the academic term, and demonstrates through their own words and other media what students perceive themselves as having learned as writers and scholars. A generic example Reflective Hypertext Essay is online for educators.
  • Samples of Webfolios from students are online.
  • Selected Electronic Portfolio Resources are online for educators.
  • Teachers and students are invited to use or adapt the Webfolio concept and templates and encouraged to email suggestions to dreiss at wordsworth2.net. Credit to this Webfolio Project Website is appreciated, and I'd like to know if you use or link to the site.

Webfolio Project Home | Portfolio Resources

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developed and copyright ©1996, 2003 by D. Reiss
Modified and copyright ©January 13, 2008 by D. Reiss