Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis Partners with Colleges to Develop, Implement Electronic Portfolios

March 26, 2003

The Purdue School of Engineering & Technology at IUPUI began development of a software system called Epsilen Portfolios in December 2001 that will allow the user to develop a personal Web-based portfolio, complete with resume, bios, papers, presentations, a learning matrix, movies and other multi-media pieces.

Starting next fall, incoming freshman enrolled at Bowling Green State University and University of Wisconsin Eau Claire will be among the first group of students to use the Epsilen Portfolios system to build their own electronic portfolio or e-portfolio.

IUPUI professor Ali Jafari, creator of Epsilen Portfolios, said this new software could be useful in assessing the progress of students throughout their academic career and that it may help institutions foster continuity as students advance within their major.

“By viewing student e-portfolios, academic advisors may be able to make additional suggestions on coursework or other work experience that may be beneficial to students,” said Jafari, who is also director of the IUPUI CyberLab. “This software program may also be useful to faculty, college staff, alumni and the private sector in sharing work experience with colleagues. Epsilen Portfolios was designed as a resource individuals can use as a student and as a professional.”

Bowling Green State University, Maricopa Community Colleges, Penn State University, University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and University of Wisconsin Eau Claire are all a part of a new consortium directed by IUPUI to further define, design and develop the framework and compatibility of the Epsilen Portfolios software system.

“We intend to collaborate with educational and corporate institutions to define and adopt Epsilen Portfolios’ interoperability and transportability standards,” Jafari said. “Together, we hope to develop an electronic portfolio system that is compatible and can be easily integrated with commercial course management software and campus portals.”

As developing members of ePortConsortium, partnering universities will test the software environment and participate in further development and modification of Epsilen Portfolios. Participating colleges will help further design the system and will get access to the software and its source code as it evolves. As partnering institutions implement Epsilen Portfolios on their campuses, each will have an opportunity to give it a look and feel that will reflect the identity of the campus.

Professor Milt Hakel of Bowling Green State University said he envisions great potential in using Epsilen Portfolios to facilitate the student learning process and plans to integrate the computer help desk and a tutorial feature on the system soon. Hakel, a professor of psychology, plans to study how the use of e-portfolios enhances student learning.

“This software is great for the novice user and will change the basic nature of higher education,” said Hakel, a member of ePortConsortium and an Ohio Board of Regents Eminent Scholar. “It puts the student back in charge of student learning. An electronic portfolio lets you show examples of your best work and check on your progress.”

With Epsilen Portfolios’ ability to allow users to customize their portfolio and determine what information to make public, consortium members say the system will be an ideal for users.

“Allowing the students to customize their portfolios and make their information available to employers is wonderful,” said James Lowe, interim assistant vice chancellor and chief information officer for University of Wisconsin Eau Claire. “It’s a good situation for all of us.”

To date, Microsoft, Blackboard, eCollege [Nasdaq: ECLG], Community of Science and SCT have signed on as corporate members of ePortConsortium. As a strong supporter of the group’s efforts, Microsoft has provided software to institutions participating in the consortium.

Members of the consortium each contribute $10,000 annually to participate. The board of trustees of Indiana University owns the intellectual property of the Epsilen Portfolios and any of its enhancements and modifications. The intellectual property of new e-Portfolio software modules developed by other campuses belongs to the trustees of those campuses. In 2000, CyberLab initiated and developed a highly successful teaching and learning software called ANGEL, a commercial course management system currently marketed by the, a for-profit company created by Indiana University’s Advanced Research and Technology Institute.