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MON: E-Portfolios and profiling: a new web site resource for Scottish schools (Ian Hoffman)

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Dr Simon Ball
30 January 2014

This presentation introduces the web site E-Portfolios and profiling: a new web site resource for Scottish schools which aims to provide school stakeholders – pupils, staff and parents – with the information they require to contextualise e-portfolio use as a vital component of the curricular assessment framework for Scottish schools.

Central to the assessment framework of Scotland's new state school curriculum, the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE), are the processes profiling and the pupil profile (Scottish Government, 2010). Profiling looks to promote high quality interactions between learners and staff, learner involvement in reflection and peer and self assessment (Education Scotland, 2012) while the pupil profile is a summative document of achievement that schools are mandated to help pupils produce at key times in their education (Scottish Government, 2010). Education Scotland, the public body charged with supporting quality and improvement in Scottish education, provides guidance on the use of e-portfolio tools to support the creation of the pupil profile (Education Scotland, 2013) but the potential for e-portfolios to support the profiling process (Barrett, 2011) is being neglected and an opportunity to promote the aspirations of the CfE assessment framework is being missed.

This presentation will demonstrate how the web site resource:
establishes profiling within the context of the assessment for learning approaches promoted by the likes of the Assessment Reform Group (1999) and Black and Wiliam (1998)
synthesises existing research evidence on the potential for e-portfolios to promote high quality interactions between learners and staff, support learner involvement in reflection and facilitate peer and self assessment
disseminates the garnered information to the school stakeholders in a way that is relevant and meaningful to their different roles.

Assessment Reform Group (1999) ‘Assessment for Learning: Beyond the Black Box’ [Online]. Available at (Accessed 8 January 2014).

Barrett, H. (2011) 'Balancing the Two Faces of E-Portfolios' [Online]. Available at (Accessed 12 January 2014).

Black, P. and Wiliam, D. (1998) ‘Inside the Black Box: Raising Standards Through
Classroom Assessment’, Phi Delta Kappan , v80, no. 2. Republished (2010) Phi Delta Kappan, v92 no. 1 [Online]. Available at (Accessed 8 January 2014).

Education Scotland (2013) 'E-portfolios available on the National Assessment Resource' [Online]. Available at (Accessed 6 January 2014).

Education Scotland (2012) 'CfE Briefing Curriculum for Excellence: Profiling and the S3 profile' [Online]. Available at (Accessed 6 January 2014).

Scottish Government (2010) 'Curriculum for Excellence Building the curriculum A framework for assessment: Recognising achievement, profiling and reporting' [Online]. Available at (Accessed 7 January 2014).

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Jonathan Vernon
10:33pm 11 February 2014

At what point will a valuable 'before' and 'after' comparison be possible or will the process, understably, be iterative so improving on the way. Have there been concerns expressed about how the data is shared? Does it assume ubiquitous use of computers and access to the Internet at home? Are there differences in the Scottish education system that make eportfolios more or less likely to succeed?

Ian Hoffman
9:01pm 13 February 2014

Hi Jonathan

Is the 'before and after' referring to the impact on the stakeholders? It's a good question but feel that type of evaluation would take a huge effort. I have enlisted various stakeholders to evaluate the site as it develops so getting a small measure of how it is impacting on knowledge and professional development.

A common statement from teachers goes along the lines of – we now have the e-portfolio for the profile but what else can we do with it? I believe there is a demand for support in this area.

Ubiquitous internet access at home is not assumed. When supporting schools in early consultation regarding e-portfolio implementation we – the Glow team – stressed the need for the school to consider pupil access to hardware to enable e-portfolio update. Some schools have been very imaginative in coming up with solutions including major timetabling alterations to allow pupil access to hardware on a weekly basis. Others adopt a sledgehammer approach block booking IT suites for 2 weeks at a time during the school term enable profile updates.

Although I have criticised e-portfolio use for creating the profile in my abstract it has still acted as a driver to e-portfolio implementation. Profiling, however, is key to the assessment framework and now we have to waken schools up to the fact that in e-portfolios they have an ideal tool to support the profiling process.

Sarah-Louise Quinnell
11:00pm 15 February 2014


As someone who did H808 and has spent alot of time looking at e-portfolios and their use in CPD how do you think this concept could be translated into HE and beyond? Are these portfolios portable?

Ian Hoffman
9:22pm 16 February 2014

Hi Sarah-Louise

Glow e-portfolios are built inside a WordPress (blog) installation so in theory should easily be exported out of Glow for the user to import into another WordPress environment. I say in theory as at the time of me leaving the Glow project (December 2013), it hadn't been tried! If Scottish schools decide to move to more powerful, dedicated e-portfolio systems then they usually conform to the LEAP2A standard for interoperability.

The key thing however is that if Scottish schools embrace profiling and the use e-portfolio tools to support profiling processes then HE and FE institutions should reap the benefits with cohorts of students adept in reflective writing, self and peer assessment and the evaluation of their achievements.

Dr Simon Ball
9:04pm 18 February 2014

Following the live presentations, we asked each speaker to respond to questions posed by audience members. In the short time available, it was not possible to put all of the questions submitted to the speaker for a response. We asked all speakers if they would respond to the unanswered questions here on Cloudworks. Here are all of the questions asked during the session:

  • is Scottish colleges - share, share, share repository. Perhaps schools more restrictive than colleges in Scotland?

  • Nice to see user testing

  • who do you think might be advocates for the site Ian?

  • why do you think that there has been such a limited use of eportfolios?

  • Any scope for rolling it out to other UK schools, beyond Scotland?

  • I may have missed this, but is there scope for pormotion and interest across the UK and further?

Susan Hobbs
7:38pm 19 February 2014

I was really interested in this presentation. I use an e-portfolio system with FE level 5 adult learners and many are very reluctant to use it at first. Once they do use it they seem to use it as a respository and do not really identify it as their own space. If this type of system was used more widely in schools it would not be such a new experience for adult learners.

Ian Hoffman
10:36am 20 February 2014

Hi Susan

Thanks for your comment. The research that I managed to get through identified learner ownership of the e-portfolio as being critical to its success or otherwise. This was key when it came down to when they (learners) could actually update the e-portfolio – if they couldn't access outside of the campus or no wireless in the classroom/lecture area or mobile devices were not supported or teachers/lecturers did not value. It is also surprising given that it is a while since Black and William (1998) and the Assessment Reform Group (1999) identified the importance of reflection on learning on attainment and achievement that we haven't done more to develop that skill in learners.

Ian Hoffman
10:49am 20 February 2014

  • is Scottish colleges - share, share, share repository. Perhaps schools more restrictive than colleges in Scotland?

Can only assume contracts are different for school teachers – every school teacher in Scotland signs a contract that hands over the IPR of the learning resources they create to the local education authority employer. Sharing within an LEA is ok but outwith requires employer permission and has been one of the many barriers impeding the success of Glow (the national intranet)

  • who do you think might be advocates for the site Ian?

I am confident that even after early testing, the stakeholders (pupils, parrents/carers/teachers) will act as advocates.


  • why do you think that there has been such a limited use of eportfolios

There has not been sufficient awareness raising on the part of Education Scotland to inform teaching staff. The focus has been on e-portfolios supporting the production of the mandatory document of achievement – pupil profile – to the detriment of the assessment for learning benefits that e-portfolios can bring. 

  • Any scope for rolling it out to other UK schools, beyond Scotland? I may have missed this, but is there scope for pormotion and interest across the UK and further?

I have deliberately aimed this at Scottish education as I feel this is a critical time in the implementation of e-portfolios but feel that the Scottish specific content would not be off-putting to educators from elsewhere wanting to gain more insight to e-portfolio use in schools. Will be interesting to see, once it is up and running, where the hits come from :-)



Claire Griffiths
10:36pm 24 February 2014 (Edited 11:06pm 24 February 2014)

Having just spent a lesson today with a group of S3's adding to their e-portfolios (created with a very prescribed structure/content by the local authority) I am looking to to a simple glow version as we had with the wordpress version though I know setting up the permissions was a 17 step form very difficult for staff and pupils alike. 

Having they only just advertised for a bespoke version designer?  It might be a while before we get the new e-portfolio. 

Did you hear the programme on Radio4 tonight about replacing teachers with computers in the US? Fascinating discussion. Virtual classrooms, replacing some teachers with 1.1. computers and pay the teachers on results up to $100,000 per year. It mentions the Khan Academy and Rocketship School. To give balance they do visit a Waldorf School with no computers until the age of 13 to encourage creativity. 

Monday 24 February 2014 Radio 4 My teacher is an app  

Rocketship school in San Jose 

What do you think? 

Thank you for your presentation. 

Ian Hoffman
9:34pm 4 March 2014

Hi Claire

Apologies, I have only just picked this comment up. EMA arghh!!.

I think that many LAs are concerned about the e-portfolio situation in Scotland - when is the new 'version' coming online? Will data migrate ok? Will it take 99 steps to set-up lol. I don't know where Ed Scot/Scot Gov are in their development :-(

Was not aware of that prog. Will see if i can get it on catch-up.

Congrats on your badge btw :-)

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