Paper portfolios or electronic portfolios?  Have you been asked this question lately?  Invariably the answers are many and varied, from those who prefer the feel and heft of a paper portfolio, to those who prefer a certain type of electronic software solution, and everything in-between.  The end result usually only serves to polarize individuals one way or the other without any clear consensus.

It took me awhile to figure this out but now I realize that what format of portfolio one prefers is really the wrong question to ask.  The right question, the one that should inform our decision-making process, is really to ask what type of artifacts do we want to collect?

I stumbled across this great SAMR infographic by @sylviaduckworth and starting wondering … at which stage is my ePortfolio?


Substitution: aka step 1.  An ePortfolio in this stage is basically a replica of a paper-based portfolio but with digital images and text as opposed to the paper-based variety.

Augmentation: moving along.  An ePortfolio in this stage takes advantage of some new functionalities such as audio and video recordings that are not possible in a paper based portfolio but retains much of the paper-based flavor (ie. is linear and sequential in its progression).

Modification: getting there.  An ePortfolio in this stage has broken the shackles of its paper-based predecessor and looks significantly different – I would imagine it as a personal website organized through tags and categories as opposed to “sections” with artifacts created digitally from the start as opposed to “converted” from a paper-based format.

Redefinition: the future.  Though I am still imagining what this looks like.  What do you think?

So next time you are asked for your opinion on paper versus electronic portfolios take a step back and instead ask yourself what artifacts do I want to collect?  And if going the ePortfolio route then be mindful of not merely substituting paper for digital but really taking advantage of the tools tech has to offer to at least modify what is possible if not redefine what an ePortfolio should be.  Times change – the future is now.