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College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

UM Joins International Electronic Portfolio Research Coalition to Help Shape Role of Digital Tools in Education

The digital revolution has connected people, enhanced exposure to information and even transformed international commerce. It’s also on the brink of revising education.

Since 2003, the Inter/National Coalition for Electronic Portfolio Research has studied the impact of electronic portfolios, or e-ports, on student learning and educational outcomes. The University of Mississippi has joined the coalition, made up of institutions across the United States and around the world, to be part of the cutting edge research.

“The cliche for portfolios has been collect, select and reflect,” said Robert Cummings, founding director of UM’s Center for Writing and Rhetoric. “E-ports are a new model for education. They’re designed to encourage student reflection, help develop self-direction as well as create a type of learning record that provides persuasive evidence of achievement to audiences beyond academia.”

Much like a traditional student portfolio, an e-port is a collection of work developed across varied contexts over time, which serves the same purpose by allowing students and professors to organize, archive and display pieces of work. The electronic format may include the Internet, CD-ROMs, video, animation or audio.

“Electronic portfolios give students flexible, multimodal spaces in which to compose and learn,” said Stephen Monroe, assistant dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “They can be powerful tools for teaching, learning and assessment. What’s more, after graduation, e-portfolios become showcases that students can share with potential graduate schools or employers.”

Each year, eight to 10 institutions are selected through an application process to become part of NCEPR. Each institution is charged with helping investigate e-portfolio learning and report best practices in the field.

UM joins NCEPR Cohort VI, which includes Bowling Green State University, Curtin University of Technology (Australia), Goshen College, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Lamar University, Northeastern University, Portland State University, University of Georgia, University of Michigan, Virginia Military Institute and Westminster College. Over the next three years, the group will focus on the use of e-ports in the accreditation process.

“Being invited to be a part of this international body of research indicates that Ole Miss is considered a leader in the use of e-portfolios,” Cummings said. “Here at Ole Miss, we are not only participating in the most contemporary teaching methods, but we are also helping to develop and apply them.”

UM plans to initiate e-ports in its freshman English courses this fall with help from the Center for Writing and Rhetoric.

The campus center was established in 2009 as a result of the institution’s five-year Quality Enhancement Plan for reaccreditation purposes. Besides implementing e-ports, the center is charged with revising the curricula of freshman English courses.

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