My Portfolio - Dr. Helen Barrett
Electronic Portfolios & Digital Storytelling for Lifelong & Lifewide Learning

Helen Barrett

Table of Contents:
    • Writing & Assessment (Publications)
    • Electronic Portfolio Competencies
    • Digital Storytelling Competencies
    • Teaching & Instructional Design Competencies
    • Technology Competencies

Welcome to my online portfolio, created in My eCoach. I am exploring the capabilities of using this system to develop electronic portfolios as part of my research on implementation of online electronic portfolio systems. This is the 27th version of my online portfolio.
The video clip linked above was created as part of my 26th ePortfolio version, which was created with PowerPoint and converted to video using LecShare.  This video provides a narration for the text in this portfolio, except for the detail on the artifacts, which are linked from this My eCoach version of my portfolio, under Competencies.


Writing & Assessment (Publications)

Online Publications

These publications were selected as evidence of my writing skills and my knowledge about portfolios that support assessment for learning. I chose examples of my publications from the early 1990s through to the summer of 2006. I can definitely see a change in my thinking about portfolios, from learning about e-portfolio tools, to learning about assessment for learning. These most recent articles reflect a real change in my thinking, profoundly impacted by the changes in technology between the early 90s and 2006 (pre-Internet through Web 2.0) as well as a greater awareness, through my reading and research, of the impact of portfolios and reflection on assessment for learning.

Purpose of Digital Stories in ePortfolios
This paper was developed for the Digital Storytelling Gathering, and provides examples of digital stories created for several purposes.

Authentic Assessment with Electronic Portfolios using Common Software and Web 2.0 Tools
This paper is accepted for an updated version of Coming of Age: an introduction to the new World Wide Web; it started initially as a handout for a workshop at the KIPP conference in New Orleans in early August 2006, that I co-facilitated with one of my REFLECT teacher leaders. I became very excited about the many Web 2.0 tools that I found to support IEPs (Interactive Electronic Portfolios) or what I refer to as ePortfolios 2.0.

2006 AERA paper
Roundtable Paper discussed at American Educational Research Association Conference (April 9, 2006). This paper presents the REFLECT Research Data Collection Plan, and options for questionnaire items to be included in the second round of data collection (for Spring 2006).

White Paper: Researching Electronic Portfolios and Learner Engagement
This 2005 paper was written for TaskStream to cover the literature for the REFLECT Initiative, a research project on implementing electronic portfolios in secondary schools. This document is used by many Teacher Ed programs in the U.S.

Publications in Journals

Here are some of the papers that I published in journals which show the growth in my thinking over a decade of working with ePortfolios. My most recent article was published in IRA’s Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy in their March 2007 Electronic Portfolio issue. My earliest publication on electronic portfolios was in The Computing Teacher in 1994, and adapted for a book on Student Portfolios published by Skylight. These papers show a real change in my thinking, from a focus on tools in the early days, to more emphasis on learning through formative assessment using portfolios.

Article for IRA JAAL Researching Electronic Portfolios and Learner Engagement: The REFLECT Initiative
Published in the Electronic Portfolio issue of the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy (JAAL-International Reading Association) - March 2007. This paper is an update of the White Paper that was written at the beginning of the REFLECT Initiative. This updated paper discusses some of the findings from the first year site visits. (only available through IRA for now)

Connected Newsletter article
Using Electronic Portfolios for Formative/Classroom-based Assessment. Published October 2006 to the Connected Newsletter (Classroom Connect). This paper was a re-write and update of the REFLECT Brief published in early 2005 as part of the RFP.

Create Your Own Electronic Portfolio
The latest article that I published in Learning & Leading with Technology, April 2000, focused on "Using Off-the-Shelf Software to Showcase Your Own or Student Work." In this article, I moved from commercial software to the use of common desktop software tools.

Technology-Supported Portfolio Assessment
This was my first publication on Electronic Portfolios, published in The Computing Teacher, March, 1994. Reprinted in Student Portfolios: A Collection of Articles edited by Robin Fogarty (1996). Palatine, Illinois: IRI/Skylight Training & Publishing, Inc., pp. 127-137.

Electronic Portfolio Competencies

This is my collection of artifacts that are selected to demonstrate specific competencies in portfolio development knowledge and skills. I have been researching, presenting and writing about electronic portfolios since 1991. This collection shows the growth in my thinking about electronic portfolio development between 1991 and 2007. My website contains all of my professional writings about electronic portfolios. My blog is my learning portfolio, where I try to make entries at least several times a month, documenting my current thinking.

Apple Learning Interchange Exhibit on Electronic Portfolios
I developed this Expert Exhibit on Electronic Portfolios for Apple Computer as an Apple Distinguished Educator. I was flown down to Apple's office in Austin to record the video clips, which I am not very pleased with the results. Some day I will redo the whole exhibit, with new video clips.

My Website on Electronic Portfolios
This is my web site on electronic portfolios in education. I started working on this website in 1995, on the server that I set up for the University of Alaska Anchorage School of Education. I bought my own domain names in 2000, and have been updating it ever since. You might say that this web site contains the archive of my professional work in electronic portfolio development since my research started in 1991. It also comes up on the first page of any Google search on electronic portfolios.

My 'Blogger' blog
I started to experiment with blogs in the spring of 2004. Within a couple of months, this blog has been highlighted on several lists of recommended educational blogs. I have enjoyed writing in this blog, to use it as a way to explore my own thoughts and reflections on my experiences. As a result of writing in this blog, I am experimenting with other tools, as well, to see how various blogging software would work to construct e-portfolios.

Digital Storytelling Competencies

The QuickTime movies included here provide examples of digital stories that I have created over the last four years. I attended the Center for Digital Storytelling workshop in January 2003, and their Training of Trainers workshop in March 2005, and have been exploring the practice since then. I have designed and delivered workshops to help students and teachers to develop digital stories as reflective artifacts in their electronic portfolios.

Family Portfolios and Digital Stories
These documents contain portfolios developed with my granddaughter for her Kindergarten, First and Second Grade years. The digital stories for K & 1 are reflections on the year. The digital story for 2nd grade is her autobiography written as part of a school project. The "Dad" story is the project we created at the Center for Digital Storytelling.

Prepare for a Digital Storytelling Workshop (.mov)
I created this digital story to help participants prepare for a digital storytelling workshop.

Electronic Portfolios as Digital Stories of Learning (.mov)
This narrated slide show presents the content of my article posted at This presentation looks at technologies that are engaging for students to foster intrinsic motivation, specifically digital storytelling. This movie is watched so much that it exceeded my .Mac monthly data quota.

Choices - A Digital Story of Learning (.mov)
Seventh grade provided one of my most vivid memories of learning. I have made sense of this experience with a reflective digital story. Reflecting back on that learning experience as a professional educator, I realize that the problem was not with me, but with the assignment. What a difficult task I was given... it takes time to build those synapses in the brain. Memorization has its place in learning, but I didn't derive the true meaning of the poem I had to memorize until much later in life.

Teaching & Instructional Design Competencies

These documents were selected to showcase my competencies in teaching and instructional design. I have developed and delivered workshops on electronic portfolio development, from three hours to three days, and most have been evaluated through my PT3 grant. I have also developed a set of two-day workshops on electronic portfolios and digital storytelling, recommendations for teacher professional development. I also included one workshop evaluation.

Descriptions of presentations and workshops available
These are descriptions of the presentations and workshops that I have developed.

Workshop Outlines on Electronic Portfolios and Digital Storytelling
These two-day workshops were developed in the winter of 2004 for a major technology company. The Digital Storytelling workshop was piloted twice in 2004 through my PT3 grant. The evaluation report from Rockman demonstrates the success of the first workshop.

Distance Courses on Electronic Portfolios and Digital Storytelling
I developed this series of courses on electronic portfolios and digital storytelling, which were piloted with Wichita State University in 2003 using Blackboard. The courses need to be updated, but can be offered using any web-based environment. In 2007, I offered two one-week courses through KnowSchools in Canada, using Moodle.

Professional Development for Implementing Electronic Portfolios
This recent web page on my website, responding to requests by school districts for information on how to help teachers who need to support student electronic portfolio development. Includes Change theory, portfolio and technology skills assessments.

Workshop Evaluation
An evaluation of a workshop that I did in Arizona for Maricopa Community Colleges in 2005.

Technology Competencies

These artifacts represent my skills in multimedia development and web page authoring. I have developed a CD-ROM using Adobe Acrobat and QuickTime movies. In addition to the Digital Stories that are posted in the last collection, and my web sites which showcases my knowledge and skills in electronic portfolio development, I have tried to stay current as technology changes over time. This collection shows a change from desktop applications to online tools for constructing ePortfolios, facilitated by my Online Portfolio Adventure, begun in the fall 2004, when I put together the first version of this portfolio, and have replicated it 26 times, so far.

At-a-Glance Guides
Common Software Tools for Creating and Publishing Electronic Portfolios. These short guides were developed to support the stages of electronic portfolio development, from the collection/digitization process, through the selection/reflection construction/hyperlinking process to the final publication process. I developed these guides as part of the Apple Learning Interchange Exhibit.

CD-ROM-based Handbook
I developed a CD-ROM in 2002 to use in workshops and to sell on my website. I made a major revision in the spring of 2004, adding Digital Storytelling to support deep learning.

Using Adobe Acrobat for Electronic Portfolio Development
This paper outlines Adobe's Portable Document Format as the ideal container for electronic portfolio reflections connected to digital artifacts, describes the software environment, and then describes the process for converting digital artifacts from many applications into the Portable Document Format, and maintaining a cross-platform, web-accessible, hyperlinked digital portfolio. I received an award at the SITE 2001 Conference as "Best Technical Paper."

My Online Portfolio Adventure
I started this project when I had no trips scheduled in the month of September 2004, and I decided to recreate my portfolio with different tools. I started with the Maricopa Community College tool. I have links to each portfolio, where they are accessible, and to the tool provider.

Creating ePortfolios with Web 2.0 Tools
This newest web page, with a variety of examples and "How To" instructions, provides guidance to creating ePortfolios with online-only tools.


Reflection on the Process

This is the 27th tool that I have used to create my electronic portfolio. Since I copied the pages from an earlier online version, I was able to reconstruct my portfolio in less than an two hours, copying and pasting the information, although the fine tuning the formatting took more time. As with all of my other portfolios, all of my artifacts are documents already stored on one of my websites.

My eCoach offers collaboration, communication, curriculum, and coaching tools. This portfolio was created using the Universal [Web Page] Builder. I set the setting so that every page in this portfolio will allow comments, which provides the opportunity for interactivity.

My general impression is that this tool is relatively easy to use, although it took me a few tries to select the right template. It created an attractive layout. I did not try to upload any documents, because I’m not sure how much storage space is allowed. I was asked to try out the tool by the founder of the company.

This is a flexible tool that allows for cloning, for others to leave comments, and coaching support from an eCoach. Users can create multiple tabs as categories with multiple pages under each category. Each page has a text editor that allows users to add text, images, videos, audio files, podcasts, documents, presentations, and most types of files.

The founder of the company gave me this information:



Before creating a portfolio, it is good to create an advanced organizer, to identify the specific artifacts that I wanted to include in my portfolio. Below are three versions of my portfolio: the original Excel version, a PDF version,and a scanned copy of my original worksheet that was used to classify the artifacts.

PDF VersionExcel Version

I spent an evening in 2004 going through my web pages and my hard drive (my digital archive) to select the specific artifacts that I wanted to use in my portfolio. I set up this Excel spreadsheet that let me list the artifacts (21 in all) and then create hyperlinks to each URL.

After selecting the artifacts, I tried to identify which competencies or skills each artifact demonstrates. I found five or six major categories right now, maybe more when I think about it. But the major categories have emerged. Now, all I have to do is create a collection for each grouping, and write an overall reflection plus record the captions. Since I had all of the artifacts on one of my websites, all I had to do was capture the URL.

From start to finish this project took me an evening, and most of the time was spent in selecting the artifacts and writing the captions. Those aren’t really technology issues they are portfolio issues.

After creating the list with the URLs, I added comments in Excel to represent the captions for each artifact. I then converted the document into PDF. I scanned the printed version and selected the specific pieces to include under each competency, as shown here.



Here is an overview of the contents of my portfolio. You can read a brief biography, see a list of the artifacts that I have identified as my best work, and hear my reflections about creating this portfolio and my future goals. If you want to see all of the artifacts in my portfolio, select Portfolio-at-a-glance.
There are many versions of my portfolio online, where the reader can follow the links to the artifacts online.

Every portfolio has a purpose. My purpose for developing this portfolio is to show my skills in developing an electronic portfolio using any number of tools. After reviewing all of my artifacts (see my Portfolio at a Glance) I found five general categories of competencies:


My Biography

My Vita can be viewed on my website at

In October 2007, I received the first Lifetime Achievement Award from Eifel at the fifth annual EuroPortfolio Conference, in recognition of my contribution to ePortfolio research and development.

I recently retired from the faculty of the College of Education at the University of Alaska Anchorage and have been researching electronic portfolios since 1991, publishing a web site on Technology and Alternative Assessment since1995 and an Apple Learning Interchange Exhibit.

I was involved in Educational Technology and Staff Development in Alaska between 1983 and 2001,first as Staff Development Coordinator with the Fairbanks School District and then with the University of Alaska Anchorage. I was in charge of Educational Technology programs for the School of Education and initiated the development of UAA’s New Media Center for campus-wide faculty development.

I worked with the International Society for Technology in Education’s National Educational Technology Standards for teachers (ISTE NETS-T) Project (2000-2005), developing strategies and resources to assess teacher technology competence. I also served as Vice President for Assessment and E-Folios for SITE, the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education. Through the Educause/NLII/AAHE Community of Practice, I helped to define pedagogical specifications for online portfolio systems.

Between 1999 and 2001, I wrote several successful federal technology grants, the most recent through ISTE to support technology and assessment in teacher education programs throughout the United States, providing training and technical assistance on using electronic portfolios to assess achievement of teaching standards. I was on loan to ISTE on a full time basis for the duration of this PT3 Catalyst Grant (2001-2005).

My presentations at numerous regional and national conferences have explored the emerging field of technology and alternative assessment and my articles have appeared in books, journals and proceedings published by ISTE, AACE, AAHE, and WCCE. In 2002, I produced a multimedia CD-ROM-based Electronic Portfolio Handbook.

My research about electronic portfolios began with a study of K-12 student portfolios for the Alaska Department of Education in the early 90s. In the mid-90s, my research focus changed to electronic teacher portfolios, and started to explore both high school graduation portfolios and family involvement in e-portfolio development in early childhood education. After my retirement in 2005, I became the Research Project Director for The REFLECT Initiative, an international research project, underwritten by TaskStream, to assess the impact of electronic portfolios on student learning, motivation and engagement in secondary schools.


My Future Learning Goals

I believe that all portfolios need to include three forms of reflection, focusing on the past, present, and future. These questions are:
So, here are my future goals. This version of my portfolio was created after I retired from the University of Alaska Anchorage. I am using this portfolio to help me reflect on my strengths and how that will contribute to my future professional direction.

Researching Electronic Portfolios

I am interested in continuing my research on electronic portfolios in education with an emphasis on exploring and changing the predominant paradigm:
I spent the 2005-2007 school years conducting the REFLECT Initiative, a two-year research project on electronic portfolios in secondary schools, sponsored by TaskStream. I am really excited about what we are finding in this research, and would like to do much more of this work in the future. In the second year of REFLECT, I conducted focus groups with the high school students who have been using TaskStream for the last two years. I have also begun an informal study of high school electronic portfolio implementation in my new home state of Washington.

I am interested in writing grants and conducting funded research that will extend the knowledge about electronic portfolios and Web 2.0-based tools that would allow learners of all ages to:

A more detailed vision is linked from my blog:

Digital Storytelling

After I finally retire, I want to encourage "baby boomers" and senior citizens to use digital storytelling to preserve their memories and life stories for future generations. Here is the mission: using today’s technology to tell yesterday’s stories to tomorrow’s generations. The current popularity of scrapbooking and genealogy all indicate that there is an interest to preserve these memories. But those who study genealogy know that we can find the dates and facts about a life, but stories that are not preserved are lost forever. Everyone has a story to tell. Digital storytelling is one way to preserve and share our family legacies.

Perhaps I can also work into the process a "retirement transition" focus, using digital stories as a way of finding a new purpose in retirement after a very busy working life. Learning to share digital stories could become a powerful transition activity. And in the process, new retirees could learn technology skills that they might have missed in their professional careers.Here is also an opportunity for schools, as well, to bring this digital storytelling process to their communities, to match young people who have the technology skills with older people who have the stories to be preserved. Then, we can truly become a community of lifelong learners who share our knowledge and wisdom with each other.