Why Should I Use an E-portfolio? Why Should You?

Why use an e-portfolio?

I love that the title of my assignment this week is a question. We’ve been focused on reflecting throughout the program, and this question lends itself to reflection.  Why should I create and use one?  Just beginning a question with the word “why” forces me to reflect on the benefits. What purpose could it serve in education, and more importantly, in all aspects of my life.

I thought about the many occasions I thought I would remember something significant, only to be frustrated when I can’t recall the details. When my son was born with a rare chromosome abnormality, people told me I should keep a journal. I started a few times, but I wasn’t consistent. “I’m just too busy,” I reasoned, and I thought I would remember all the random medical tests he endured. Nope. It has been more than 17 years since his diagnosis, and if I don’t have a picture of a procedure, I probably don’t remember he had it, much less the results.

As my son, Ben, grew, he started saying and doing things that made us question our perceptions of his intelligence and skills.  It became clear he understood more than he could ever tell us. His thoughts sometimes seemed jumbled up to us, but he knew what he was talking about.  He fascinated us by making connections and providing insight that never even occurred to us.  When he said and did things that surprised and entertained us, we called them “Ben-isms.”

I wish I had a collection of “Ben-isms” to look back on now.  As we approach his 18th birthday, I think about all those things I thought I would remember. They were certainly significant.

Karen Barnstable (2010, January 8) divides the benefits of keeping an ePortfolio into two categories, benefits of the “process,” and benefits of the “product.” She lists her 41 benefits as they apply to students, educators, and employers. I can certainly see the benefits for my students, for myself as a teacher, and for employers. Throughout the week, though, I still thought of my Ben.

I would love to have the product of a record of his life and our experiences. After reading Barnstable’s benefits of the process, however, I think it would even be more important to have the benefits of the process.  Having a child with a chromosome abnormality that nobody else in the world has been diagnosed with means that being his parent has been a learning process. He has four older sisters, so I know how to parent typical children.  My husband and I often talk about plans for Ben’s future. What will become of him if he outlives us? We know he will never be independent. Wouldn’t it be incredible for any future caretaker to be able to read about the processes we’ve gone through? If he/she knew the things we learned, and how we learned them?  What a gift that would be for Ben.

Barnstable, K. (2010, January 8). 41 Benefits of an ePortfolio. Retrieved from Stable Transitions: https://kbarnstable.wordpress.com/2010/01/08/41-benefits-of-an-eportfolio/

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