Paper by Ester Ehiyazaryan-White
This paper reports on the findings of a study into the use of ePortfolios as personal learning
environments (PLE) by a group of students pursuing Master’s degrees in Education. The qualitative study explores the potential of the ePortfolio to support learners in engaging in formative peer andtutor feedback as well as in developing a learning community. Within this study, the ePortfolio is presented as an alternative to the discussion forums based in the institutional virtual learning environment (VLE), as it combines the individual, reflective benefits of the PLE with the communal, social benefits offered via the discussion forums. Data were collected of the interactional content that students created through the ePortfolio (blog posts and responses to others’ posts) as well as through a focus group interview with the participating students that explored the learners’ perceptions of the ePortfolio as a support mechanism for their study on a specific module. The findings of the study indicate that while in many ways learners’ online interactions through the ePortfolio were similar to those described in VLE discussion forums, there were several key advantages to positioning this dialogue within a PLE, including encouraging deep rather than surface approaches to learning and providing the opportunity to construct a personal and re-traceable narrative of the individual’s learning journey.