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S. O' Sullivan, H. McGlynn

Cork Institute of Technology (IRELAND)
Web 2.0 is becoming the personal learning environment of the net generation. Computer based technologies now permeate society. The use of the internet and Web based applications have brought about a paradigm shift in education such that the distinction between class-room based learning and distance education has become blurred. The speed of web based learning tools has been enhanced by increased ease of access, reduced costs and the emergence of a net generation, a generation that is increasingly adept with evolving technologies. This comfort level with technology where students seem to learn by doing appears to be in contrast to earlier generations of students who perhaps learned more by listening. The net generation expects a high degree of interactivity. They expect independent investigation, collaborative or peer based learning. This techsavvy nature of the current generation of students is often promoted as part of the rationale behind the thrust into online learning. Portfolios have long been the showcase tools for artists-expressions of competencies, to showcase work in progress and work finished. E-portfolios can be defined as digital enactments of portfolios. Portfolios are collections of work designed for a specific purpose; to provide a record of accomplishments. E-portfolios offer many benefits to learners providing an opportunity to display knowledge outside of a static transcript. Web 2.0 tools such as wikis can hyperlink to web-pages and video clips; figures and presentations can be enriched with voice overs to enhance the reader experience. Portfolios can be viewed online through an intranet or internet connection depending on the level of privacy desired by the stakeholder.
Portfolio implementations are best viewed as a continuum; they are work in progress. They evolve over a period of time through group interaction and discourse. The expressions of learning in an e-portfolio can range from lower order thinking skills such as a PowerPoint presentation to higher order thinking skills as seen in a wiki, a blog acting as a reflective journal or a podcast. As colleges implement electronic portfolios it will be important to do more than just replicate their paper based predecessors or adopt a system where a folder is created to store copies of static non evolving papers. E-portfolios align with constructivist theories in that students construct their own portfolio, taking charge of what it contains, reflect on what makes an entry good or better than others and use this information to make improvements or changes. As teachers advise on content, the student takes on the responsibility of collecting materials, selecting what is relevant, reflecting on content and connect through for example a podcast where they have to demonstrate their knowledge.
Interactive portfolios involve students posting work and inviting feedback as in a blog. They can invite coworkers and can make online revisions of work as in a wiki. Wiki tools keep track of changes, when they were made and who made them so in this respect authorship can be tracked if that is what is needed for assessment.
This paper reviews the use of e-portfolios in assessment of group projects presented in final year undergraduate Biomedical Science degree course. We demonstrate the use of wikis in collaborative group work, mind mapping in reviewing literature, merging of mind maps in writing of reviews and presentations using podcasting.