ePortfolios can take on different formats and can serve many purposes. The ways ePortfolios are used can vary greatly from owner to owner, and is dependent on the needs of that owner.
Some may wish to create an ePortfolio to deliver a personal brand. This type of ePortfolio would typically showcase the skills of the owner and would include samples of work that show those skills. It could be used as a CV for prospective employers or customers. This type of ePortfolio helps to build the personal identity of the owner.
Others want to create an ePortfolio that documents achievement. It would show ratings against standards or criteria, and would need to include a system for the collection of that data.
Thirdly, the ePortfolio for learning would provide a platform for reflection and metacognition. Reflecting of current learning and the setting of goals would be paramount. This type of ePortfolio is not so focussed on outcomes and assessment, but would show progress over time, and the processes used during the learning.
There is also a place for a combination of two or all of the above types of ePortfolios. The format can be quite fluid and reflect the needs of the owner at that particular point in time. Most students at school would use a combination of all three at some point in time.
For instance, a student's ePortfolio for learning may involve some goal setting and reflection of a current unit of inquiry. Included in this would be the process of conducting the inquiry, the progress made during the inquiry, the outcome of the inquiry and the product (or summative task) after the inquiry was completed. The audience for this series of ePortfolio entries would change from self to others during the course of the inquiry, and likewise the feedback would fluctuate between formative and summative depending on the stage of the task in hand.
NEXT in this series: Why Keep an ePortfolio.