Newsflash December 2011

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ePIC 2012 Newsflash

December 2011


ePIC 2012 London 9-10-11 July



ePortfolios, Products of an Individuation Process?

    ePIC 2012

    Call for contributions

    Open Badges: Open Data for Open ePortfolio

    Europortfolio:  Call for a European  Consortium


    ePortfolios, Products of an Individuation Process?


    One recurring question relating to ePortfolios is: is it a product or a process? To that question, Helen Barrett responds (link): "My working portfolio, that documents the PROCESS of my learning/growth over time, is my digital footprint through my website, my blog, my Facebook account (mostly "friending" my family members), my Twitter posts (@eportfolios), etc.: my personal learning environment (PLE) that I contribute to and learn from on a regular basis." For JISC (link), "There is an emerging consensus that the term encompasses both product and process" and provides the following definition: "An e-portfolio is a purposeful aggregation of digital items - ideas, evidence, reflections, feedback etc. which 'presents' a selected audience with evidence of a person's learning and/or ability." This definition sounds more like the definition of a product than a process, unless the process is the aggregation of documents. If so, why not simply write that an ePortfolio is a product which is the result of documenting a learning process? Building an ePortfolio involves two processes: the (reflective) learning process and the (ancillary) process of documenting  learning.

    While there is widespread agreement that 'true' ePortfolios should be the result of reflective learning, there is certainly no need to produce an ePortfolio in order to be a reflective learner! It would be ludicrous to state that someone is not a reflective learner, or practitioner, on the grounds that she does not keep / produce an ePortfolio. A well constructed essay is often a much better piece of evidence of reflective learning than some collections of fragmented 'reflections' generated by well-meaning but ill-structured ePortfolio platforms — e.g. providing a field, 'reflection', to be filled-in when uploading a piece of evidence in the ePortfolio... Why should a truly reflective learner be forced to produce a portfolio in order to demonstrate reflective learning?

    One of the reasons advanced to explain the reluctance of some learners to build an ePortfolio (or keep it when leaving the education system) is that they are built under extrinsic motivation (e.g. mandatory to pass an exam etc.), while if they were built on intrinsic motivation they ought to love them. The problem with that explanation is that there are very few examples of individuals so intrinsically motivated that they cannot help themselves but produce enthralling ePortfolios! People write CVs to reach employers, similarly they produce ePortfolios when asked by a teacher, an institution, a professional body or authority. Call it audience or institution (which is as legitimate an audience as any other), it is generally an external factor which is at the origin of the production of ePortfolios — hence different types of ePortfolios documenting different episodes / aspects of the learning process.

    So, if we accept the idea that an ePortfolio is a document that is the result of documenting the learning process (for an audience, including oneself), why should we continue to mention the ePortfolio as a process? Is there another process beyond documenting learning that would be worth the use of a specific concept? That concept might be individuation.

    Individuation (Latin: principium individuationis) is the name given to processes whereby the undifferentiated tends to become individual, or to those processes through which differentiated components become integrated into stable wholes (link). Developped by a number of authors including Arthur Schopenhauer and Carl Jung, the understanding of the concept of individuation developed by Bernard Stiegler after the work of Gilbert Simondon*, both French philosophers, seems very rich ground on which to explore ePortfolio issues more deeply - once passed the hurdle of specialised philosophical language.

    Although there is always a risk of trivialising complex ideas, or of using them metaphorically, here is a statement about ePortfolios that is made possible by the introduction of individuation: ePortfolios are the results of the process of individuation; individuation of people in the process of learning and individuation of technology in the process of dis-aggregation of information silos and their re-aggregation around individuals.

    In the above statement ePortfolios are at the cross-roads of two individuation processes: individuals and technologies. The ePortfolio is not in itself a process, it is one of the possible outcomes of the individuation process of people and technologies. ePortfolios are not the mere result of a conscious activity (documenting learning) but the concomitant, ever changing, outcome of the individuation process of individuals (identity construction) and technologies (dis- re-aggregation).

    Placing ePortfolios in the perspective of individuation (of people, communities and technologies) might help us to move the frontiers of ePortfolios. For example, the idea launched in 2003 in Poitiers, during the first ePortfolio conference ("In 2010 every citizen will have an ePortfolio") might be rephrased by: in the near future everybody will have the ability to exist as an autonomous subject on the Internet. Individuation of technologies will go far beyond ePortfolios and Personal Learning Environments(PLEs) which might appear as distant to the next generation of individuated technologies, as pre-hominids are from homo sapiens. Let's just hope that we will not have to wait 8 million years to observe some visible change!

    It is still early days in the exploration of individuation in the field of ePortfolio. Here are some of the routes one might want to take in exploring the connections between ePortfolios / Personal Learning Environments and individuation:

    • ePortfolios as one of the outcomes of the individuation process of technologies — social networks are another one
    • The relationships between individual / collective ePortfolio and individual / collective individuation — co-individuation, trans-individuation
    • ePortfolios and individualisation / personalisation / individuation / identity construction

    All your contributions on this theme, and criticisms of the above developments, are welcome and this newsletter will gladly echo them in preparation for the 10th anniversary of the international ePortfolio and Identity conference.

    In the meantime, the ePIC 2012 team and Conference Committee join me in wishing you all a great Christmas.

    Serge Ravet

    Join us at ePIC 2012, 9-10-11 July, London
    * Gilbert Simondon developed a theory of individual and collective individuation, in which the individual subject is considered as an effect of individuation, rather than a cause.

    London, 9-10-11
    July 2012

    ePIC 2012 Call for contributions








    International Journal of ePortfolioeLearningEuropathe Kantara Initiative



    On the 9-10-11 of July we will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the international ePortfolio & Identity Conference and welcome the second ePortfolio World Summit. Since 2003 we have established a solid track record as a leading forum for connecting practitioners, researchers, technologists and policy makers in exploring ePortfolio and Identity practices and technologies. The conference is appreciated for its ability to explore current issues while leading the path towards possible futures.

    Authors are invited to address issues in relation to:

    • development of lifelong learner / professional / citizen identity;
    • healthcare education of professionals and citizens (professional- health- folio);
    • integrative learning and holistic development;
    • individual / community /organisational ePortfolios and identities development;
    • continuing professional development and sustainable employability;
    • assessment, recognition and accreditation of learning (formal, informal, lifelong and life-wide).

    Key conference questions may include, (but are not limited to):

    • Should everybody (individuals, communities and organisations) have an ePortfolio?
    • How do individual and organisational ePortfolios (and identity) relate?
    • How do ePortfolios contribute to the identity construction process?
    • How do ePortfolios support the acquisition of 21st century skills?
    • How do ePortfolios support lifelong learning, orientation and employability?
    • How to develop the recognition and accreditation of prior Experience and learning (APEL) ?
    • How to create an ePortfolio ecosystem?
    • How do ePortfolios, Personal Learning Environments and Personal Working Environments relate?
    • How can we make an effective ‘business case’ to those funding ePortfolio provision when resources are restricted?

    Conference Tracks

    1. Initial Education —ePortfolio from kindergarten to further and higher education
    2. Employability, Organisational and Lifelong Learning —ePortfolio from employees to self-employed and entrepreneurs
    3. Healthcare Education and Practice —ePortfolio from patients to healthcare professionals (special track)
    4. Assessment, Accreditation and Recognition —knowledge, skills and attitudes
    5. ePortfolio and Identity Policies —ePortfolio implementation from a single institution to a whole country
    6. Technologies  —ePortfolio platforms, system architectures and standards
    7. Identity Construction — ePortfolio, social networks, web 2.0 and identity construction


    • 5 March 2012 –  Deadline for the submission of abstracts

    • 7 May 2012 – Deadline for the submission of long/short papers
    • 9-10-11 July – Conference
    • 15 September 2012 – Publication of the proceedings


    For a complete view of the call:


    Open Badges: Open Data for Open ePortfolios

    We have the pleasure to announce the participation of the Open Badges initiative at ePIC 2012 leading a track on the theme: Open Badges: Open Data for Open ePortfolios. Open Badges was launched in September 2011 by the Mozilla Foundation as a response to the difficulties in getting recognition for skills and achievements that are gained outside of school. The objective is to make it easy for anyone to issue, earn and display badges across the web, through a shared infrastructure that is free and open to all.

    Next issues of the Newsflash will explore in more detail the benefits the ePortfolio community might expect from an encounter with the Open Badges community. Here are some of the interesting points of the current reflection of the initiators of Open Badges:

    • Open infrastructure
    • Distributed ePortfolios

    The ideas of open infrastructure and distributed ePortfolio challenge the ePortfolio state of the art: ePortfolios have not yet been able to generate an infrastructure: while useful, existing ePortfolio standards such as Leap2A or IMS Global do not create an infrastructure but a series of juxtaposed silos. Open Infrastructure also raises questions about Open ePortfolios: what is an Open ePortfolio platform? Is Open Source sufficient to be Open? Is it possible to have Open ePortfolio platforms with proprietary software, and if yes, under what conditions? How do open source ePortfolios deal with 'open data'? Could Open Badges transform ePortfolio silos into an ecosystem of distributed open personal data?

    These questions will be addressed over the next issues of this newsflash. In the meantime, have a look at Open Badges, reflect and share your thoughts with us.


    Europortfolio: Call for a European Consortium


    Despite success recorded in the development of ePortfolio initiatives in Europe and beyond, the growth of ePortfolio is still extremely patchy across institutions, regions and sectors. This is the consequence of a lack of leadership resulting in the fragmentation of initiatives, information, technologies and actors.
    • Leadership: despite the efforts made by a number of actors, including those who have succeeded in making Europe a worldwide ePortfolio actor, this initial leadership has not yet been translated into a shared European ePortfolio vision, practice and infrastructure.
    • Fragmentation of initiatives: most initiatives occur at individual, local and organisational levels, few at regional, national and international levels (e.g. European Language Portfolio). This fragmentation, which sometimes mirrors that of political structures (municipality/district/region/nation), institutions and sectors, is detrimental to the emergence of a an ePortfolio ecosystem working across space, time and institutions.
    • Fragmentation of technologies: despite efforts on interoperability (e.g. IMS and LEAP 2A standards) ePortfolios are not interoperable across ePortfolio platforms and main stream information systems in education, human resource development and employment.
    • Fragmentation of actors: distance, language and cultural barriers affect the ability to share information and build shared knowledge within and across sectors and frontiers. The results of interesting experiences, both successful, as well as failed, are not easily accessible to those planning or making decisions in relation to ePortfolio policy/technology implementation.
    • Fragmentation of information: despite the efforts of a number of actors, there is no single centralised point from which it is possible to find all relevant information on ePortfolios initiatives, technologies, practice and actors.

    In order to address those issues, we are working on building a consortium to submit a proposal to the European Commission. Posible funding (link) is 150.000€ per year, with a maximum of 3 years. Deadline for the submission of proposals is 1 March 2012.

    An initial summary of the proposal is accessible at If you are interested to join as a partner or associated partner, you are invited to provide details using an online form accessible at: Responses will be used to update the Summary and to invite partners to join as Partner or Associate Partner.

    We are looking forward to hearing from you.


    Partner events


    AAEEBL, Boston 16 – 19 July 2012

    The AAEEBL annual Conference, ePortfolios as a Catalyst for Connections: Celebrating the Curious, Creative and Capable Learner

    The AAEEBL2012 Program Committee invites you to submit a proposal for a session on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, July 17-19, 2012 in Boston, MA.  All session and poster presenters must register for the full AAEEBL conference.

    All proposals must be submitted by midnight US (Eastern time) on February 3, 2012.  Accepted speakers will be invited by email to present by March 16, 2012.


    Link to the online submission form.

    ePortfolios Australia Conference 2012 (EAC2012) 17-18 October, Perth

    A lot of great resources were generated as a part of the ePortfolios Australia Conference 2011 (EAC2011) in Perth in October 2011:

    • EAC2011 Papers and Abstracts e-Book: containing over 50 presentation abstracts and papers is available online (link)
    • EAC2011 Keynote Audio Recordings for Ruth Wallace and Terrel L Rhodes are now available here (unfortunately there were technical issues getting audio recording for Kathleen Blake Yancey and Mary Ryan): (link)
    • EAC2011 Presenter slides, handouts and notes - many EAC2011 presenters have shared their EAC2011 presentation slides, handouts and notes at slideshare.



      Conference proceedings

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