By Anya Kamenetz
"Pathbrite, a one-year-old startup, aims to re-create that feeling of being in someone's office. It's a simple and intuitive site for creating portfolios. To show me how it works, founder Heather Hiles pulls up her own page. It's got her CV and diploma, a family photo of her with her single mom, and visual highlights from a 20-year career in K-12 through adult education, including position papers written for Gavin Newsom as the San Francisco school board commissioner, press coverage, and photos with Barack and Michelle Obama, being honored as the founder of SF Works, a job training program that helped 5,000 women get off welfare.
"Pathbrite integrates all kinds of media, from diplomas and Khan Academy badges to official ACT test scores to video, audio, and photos, with written commentary. It's shareable and updatable from anywhere. None of this is particularly groundbreaking in the world of web apps, but it is in the world of education apps--and that was the big problem, says Hiles.
"I learned about e-portfolios three years ago," she says. "They have been proven through longitudinal studies to improve course passing rates, writing, and metacognition, by continuously prompting people to reflect and curate their accomplishments. When I saw this technology, I thought, why don’t we have portfolios in higher ed? Well, the top 10 e-portfolio products for education all sucked. They were kludgy and boring. So we decided we were going to make a Web 2.0 e-portfolio." Hiles, a lifelong social entrepreneur, taught herself enough code to hack together the alpha product."