Tracking a lifetime of learning with ePortfolio

Laine Abria a 4th year Pharmacy student, discusses her experience with ePortfolio, how it developed throughout her internship with Academic Practice and how she intends to use ePortfolios going forward.

When someone says the word “portfolio”, the image that comes to my mind is a big folder of detailed sketches and colourful paintings or a collection of financial documents on assets and stocks. As a pharmacy student, it’s not surprising that these definitions don’t really appeal to me. So, in the first year of my degree, when I was instructed to keep an electronic portfolio or ‘ePortfolio’ with little guidance, I didn’t really understand its purpose.

Fast forward three years into my degree, my knowledge of ePortfolio is limited still despite me having had to keep one since first year. It was only during my internship with Academic Practice last semester, when my knowledge of ePortfolio quickly skyrocketed through reading articles about them, speaking with experts, helping organise an event on the topic, and creating an ePortfolio on Google Sites with my reflections and artefacts from the internship. I think I have a good understanding of the purpose of ePortfolio, how to make them, their role in assessment and how they may benefit me both as a student and as a future pharmacist (fingers crossed). My biggest takeaway from engaging with ePortfolio is that not only can they be used to show evidence of learning but also, they are useful tools for tracking my learning and identifying which methods of learning suit me best.

But it’s one thing to know what is required it’s another to be able to do it. My ePortfolio is in no way perfect and I still struggle with choosing artefacts and reflecting on my learning to integrate my knowledge. I think a part of this is because of my previous experience, where my ePortfolio on PebblePad was merely a place where I would dump 5 reflective cycles at the end of the year to gain a satisfactory mark on one measly component of a module filled with countless OSCEs, workshops, and CAs – more ‘traditional’ assessments that seemingly hold more value.

However, I haven’t given up on ePortfolios as I have good reasons to keep them. Not only are all registered pharmacists in Ireland expected to keep one and submit it for review every five years, but as I wrap up the final years of my degree, I feel like I am entering a new stage of being a ‘learner’. In this stage, I know I’ll have to be more independent and responsible in terms of learning, as I prepare to enter the ‘real’ world and put everything I’ve learnt in college into practice.

I’m curious to know about others’ experiences with keeping ePortfolio and whether they have been beneficial for them, especially at points of transition. I expect keeping an ePortfolio involves developing a routine of reflection, one that will take some time to get used to.

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