Conference Session Review – ePIC July 2014

Conference programme and pen12th International Conference on e-Portfolio, Open Badges & Identity, 9th-11th July 2014

Within the sphere of openness, topics covered at this years’ conference included open badges, e-portfolios, digital identity and open data.  This blogpost is a round-up of two of the sessions that I attended during the conference.


Wednesday 9th July

mPortfolios (using mobile devices to support reflection) – Dr. Helen Barrett

This session began with some clear reminders about the nature of e-Portfolio’s and how they can best support our learning activities.  Helen suggested that use and purpose of portfolio would change over time.  Engagement with the portfolio would shift through three levels:

  • Level 1 – Collection of artifacts
  • Level 2 – Learning/Reflection
  • Level 3 – Showcase portfolio

Similarly the frequency of interaction would decrease over time, as the focus of the portfolio changed.  Where almost daily interaction would take place when curating artifacts, this would be reduced to weekly or bi-weekly interactions when making reflective entries and then reduced further still to present the compiled works at a handful of key events (e.g. final submission/interview/conference).

Creative Commons attribution licensed from Dr. Helen C. Barrett (by-nc-nd, 3.0)

e-Portfolio as — Click image for higher quality version — [Creative Commons attribution licensed from Dr. Helen C. Barrett (by-nc-nd, 3.0)]

 In advocating the use of mobile devices with e-Portfolio’s Helen focused on the immediacy of access (allow for submitting reflections whilst on the move, closer to the time of realisation when the memory is freshest and encouraging tiny bursts of learning), the breadth of media which can be collected (audio, image, video content) and the range of apps that can aid resource development.  In addition, there are increasingly dedicated apps for e-Portfolio systems which help take this aspect even further.  These posters show in more detail her recommended apps for use on both Android and iOS platforms.

By encouraging students to engage with e-Portfolios via their mobile devices (stand mobile phone/smart phone/tablet computer), Helen said you had better results overall.  For more details on supporting the use of e-Portfolio’s with mobile devices, please visit her Google site on mPortfolios here –

Thursday 10th July

Connecting Recognition, Assessment and Motivation around ePortfolios with Open Badges – Rebecca Itow, Daniel Thomas Hickey

Rebecca reported on three projects which had used open badges within different learning contexts.  They each provided open badging systems to students and mapped them to criteria which they would work towards meeting.

One in particular took a slightly different approach.  It made the library of badges available at the outset and invited the students to select from the collection which one to work towards attaining.  They would then use the e-Portfolio to compile their work and then present it to a panel at final submission.

So what were the findings across the projects?

Mostly, that it was not all about the badges.  It was their integration into learning ecosystems which made their addition an effective one.  Not all the projects were successful, but this only helped to highlight good practice.  Here, she referenced the work of Harry Torrance and described the poorest implementations as ‘de-formative’ in their nature.  In many learning senarios, ‘learners fail most of the time’ (Torrance, 2012) and so the formative impact may well be a negative one.

Where it was successfully a ‘transformative’ experience, there were common threads in the projects.  Learners in projects which gave them a greater hand in the ways in which they could engage with the process, used more formative feedback and embedded assessment as an on-going, continuous process fared best.

To learn more about her work you can visit the Design Principles Documentation Project site.  The ‘Design Principles Card Deck’ ( is a particularly interesting resource, which would be useful to those preparing to make use of Open Badges in their work.


Torrance H (2012) – Formative assessment at the crossroads: conformative, deformative and transformative assessment, Oxford Review of Education Vol. 38, No. 3, June 2012, pp.323-342

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