This research is educationally significant because most e-portfolio research for teachers comes from an academic perspective, while most implementation of e-portfolios by teachers is aimed at our students. What I seek to do is look at things from the grassroots level, asking questions about purpose, sustainability, costs (monetary and time) and possibilities that exist in new technologies to enable some of the proposed benefits of maintaining an e-portfolio.

This project started well before I received the grant when I attended the ePORTFOLIOS FOR PROFESSIONAL LEARNING CONFERENCE on December 1, 2005 here in Adelaide. I had been interested in this concept since reading a blog post by Leigh Blackall titled “ePortfolios. I don't get it!” I wanted to be sure that I fully understood the context of which he wrote so passionately so I went to the conference. I did a bit of reading around the web to gain some perspective and blogged about it prior to my attendance.

The keynote speaker was Dr.Helen Barrett whose academic career focus has been on electronic portfolios and we also heard from Janette Ellis, education consultant at generatED. The first day was in the form of a conference and the second day was a hands-on workshop to develop the start of your own e-portfolio. I initially struggled with the whole purpose of an e-portfolio and only came away from the day with a structural outline. Producing a portfolio in Word and Excel seemed to be a mundane way to create what should be an exciting and dynamic showcase of expertise and learning. I had also seen a number of teacher e-portfolios the day before and the memorable ones still had choices that didn't make it appealing - I didn't want to be pay $200 odd a year for a hosted formulated version and I didn't want to handcraft something from scratch in Dreamweaver or FrontPage.

I still continually reference Leigh's original post as it triggered my thoughts in a number of ways.
“I just can't understand the persistent drive by so many in education to replicate the tools and opportunities that are already freely available on the open network.”
For an educator with such a strong distaste of the actual term "e-portfolio", I believed Leigh, through his own online presence, was modelling what was possible, using new and emerging Web 2.0 technologies. I noted his use of blogs (weblogs), a wiki, his connections to forum groups, his development of educational resources using videos (YouTube) and photo stacks (Flickr) that painted a powerful picture of an educator learner in action enabling other learners. Could I utilise his model for the benefit of teachers?