Europortfolio German Chapter

The Europortfolio German Chapter was launched on 3rd December 2014 during the international conference Online Educa Berlin 2014.

We invite everyone interested in ePortfolios to participate in the German ePortfolio community and contribute to its further development. The German Chapter as a Community of Practice of ePortfolio stakeholders intends to:

  • Popularise ePortfolio in Germany as an approach to support lifelong learning;
  • Gather and visualise information on ePortfolio uses and use forms including technical, conceptual and educational issues related to ePortfolios development and ePortfolio implementation,
  • Bring together different stakeholders interested in ePortfolios to discuss related issues,
  • Foster interdisciplinary communication and collaboration between various stakeholders,
  • Map the hitherto developments and work conducted as part of the ePortfolio movement in Germany,
  • Increase transparency of initiatives, projects and research on ePortfolios in Germany,
  • Jointly develop research questions and initiate research on ePortfolios,
  • Initiate research and development projects related to ePortfolios,
  • Increase the number of publications on ePortfolios,
  • Foster international networking and exchange in German speaking countries, EU and beyond.

We welcome everyone interested in ePortfolios to connect and work with us!

Here is a link our kick-off webinar on Thursday, 29th January 2015, 6.00 – 7.30 pm CET in Adobe Connect: (please log in as “guest”)

We will introduce the German Chapter and our first ideas about community activities in 2015.

Join us to discuss and plan together! 

The founding members of the German Chapter:

berlin epnet meetings 557

Prof. Dr. Ilona Buchem

Prof. Dr. Matthias Rohs

Timo van Treeck, M.A.

Jörg Hafer

Sibylle Würz

Christian Kleinhanß

Photo by Darren Cambridge CC NC-BY-SA

What is Europortfolio? 

Europortfolio is a not-for profit association being developed with the support of European Commission as a central part of EPNET project, dedicated to exploring how ePortfolios and ePortfolio related technologies and practices can help empower individuals, organisations and wider society. Europortfolio provides a network for those doing ePortfolio and related work across Europe; to build the use of e-portfolios across communities, and to provide opportunities for future partnership working.

You can find out more about the Europortfolio here.

E-Portfolio and Inclusion


The IQ Netzwerk (IQ Network/IQ = Integration through Qualification) is a national network of federal networks in Germany established with the aim of fostering integration of migrants by improving access to information and education, providing consultation on recognising prior education and new qualification programms, including vocational training and higher education.

Our project at Beuth University of Applied Sciences in Berlin titled “Credit Points” is part of the IQ Network Berlin. It is the first project in IQ Network Berlin addressing highly qualified migrants who already completed a higher education programme outside of Germany. The project is dedicated to designing and delivering a student-centered, technology-enhanced qualification and mentoring programme suited to the needs of each individual participant. The aim is to supplement prior qualifications acquired abroad with qualifications provided and recognised in higher education in Germany in order to enhance opportunities on the local labour market and thus foster socio-economic inclusion. As Beuth University is has a strong focus on engineering and technology-related fields, our programme especially addresses alumni with degrees in technical fields, who intend to work in Germany.

The key idea of “Credit Points” is to design and provide individual study programs based on prior qualifications, individual career plans and current family/work situation. As our programme is designed and delivered for the first time in 2013 and 2014, we will be able to cater for 20 personons in this pilot phase. The participants will study for two semesters (winter semester 2013/2014 and summer semester 2014) and obtain a certificate issued by the Beuth University.

We are currently looking for candidates who can apply to the programme via our online system – Online Survey. Alumni with a technical diploma acquired abroad can apply until  the end of June 2013. Who is eligible? Migrants who already completed a higher education programme outside of Germany, already have a degree in a technical field, such as engineering, architecture, urbal design, live in Germany and have a sufficient commad of the German language (C1 level/EQF).

Following the online application, we will invite selected candidates to individual consultations, which will take place at Beuth University. Based on these consultations, an individual study plan will be designed for each participant and will include a unique combination of modules with an individual overall workload which will enable students to aquire an individual amount of credit points (ECTS). The modules will encompass technology-enhanced, distance learning modules combined with face-to-face meetings, career-related mentoring, German and English language coaching and short in-company practice in one of the enterprises in the Berlin/Brandenburg region.

The participants will be documenting their achievements in their individual, digital portfolios – ePortfolios, which can be used as part of the job application after completing the programme. The ePortfolio will enable each student to present their special competencies aquired in the programme and present their unique expertise encompassing prior and current qualifications.

ePortfolio, gender, identity


The proceeding of the 10th international conference of ePortfolio and Identity – ePIC 2012- have been  recently published. It is great to see here my first research results on “Gender-specific ePortfolio practice and gender-sensitive ePortfolio design” published in the paper with the same title. In 2013 I am planning to conduct further research based on the conceptual framework presented in this paper.

In the proceedings you will find a wide range of publications looking at ePortfolio and Identity from diverse perspectives. the proceedings include special themes, such as ePortfolios in “Healthcare” and “Teacher Education” and  more general sections such as “Identity and Social Recognition”, “Assessment” and “ePortfolio Implementation”.

I especially enjoyed discussions and contributions related to identity and recognitions. My personal highlight of ePIC 2012 was Mozilla’s workshop on Open Badges which really inspired my research this year.

Here is the link to the proceedings of the ePIC Conference 2012.

Personal Learning Environments and Psychological Ownership

When does a learning environment become a Personal Learning Environment? I think it has much to do with our perception of the learning environment and a something that is ours, an environment that belongs to us, a learing environment that we own and feel responsible for, something we can identify with. This is where I think the theory of psychological ownership can help us to understand what it means to feel an owner of a learning environment. Let me just briefly introduce the idea and the study that I presented last week at the PLE Conference in Aveiro on 12.07.12

Personal Learning Environments and Psychological Ownership

View more presentations from Ilona Buchem

Last year we wrote the paper titled “Understanding Personal Learning Environments: Literature review and synthesis through the Activity Theory lens” (Buchem, Attwell & Torres, 2011). In this study based on the grounded theory analysis of over 100 publications on Personal Learning Environments it were the concepts of ownership and control that emerged as core concepts that authors related to when writing about Personal Learning Environments. It intrigued me that we know so little about what it actually means to feel an owner or be in control of a learning environment. As I searched for helpful approaches I came across a vast body of research on psychological ownership. This research, inspired by the theory of psychological ownership by Pierce et al. (2001, 2003, 2004), has been to a large extend applied to the exploration of the role of psychological ownership in organisations.  A number of studies has looked into how the feeling of being an “owner” of an organisation one worked in affected work attitudes, job performance and organisational citizenship. A number of studies showed that employees who feel owners of the organisation tend to be more satisfied with their jobs, feel responsible for what is happening in the organisation and in consequence care for the organisation as it becomes part of their self-identity.

It struck my mind that we can apply the theory of psychological ownership as framework to explore the role of ownership in context of Personal Learning Environments. This is why this year we conducted the first study, which applies the theory of psychological ownership to technology-enhanced learning environments, based on the example of ePortfolios in higher education. I presented this study at the PLE Conference 2012 in Aveiro and found out that there is a lot of interest in this approach.

The study results show that the measure of psychological ownership can be applied in to research on learning environments. The measure of psychological ownership I am proposing in the paper showed to have a very good internal consistency and I am looking forward to conducting further studies to see if the results can be replicated. One of most interesting outcomes of the study was the relation between control and ownership. The results show that while perceived control of intangible aspects of a learning environment (such as being able to determine the subject matter or access rights) has a much larger impact on the feeling of ownership of a learning environment than perceived control of tangible aspects (such as being able to choose the technology). Another interesting result was to see that psychological ownership is a very good predictor of the quality of learning in terms of engagement, invested time, creativity, interest orientation and self-direction.

This very first study seems to confirm my hypothesis that the feeling of ownership of a learning environment is significant for learning and one of the key aspects of Personal Learning Environments. What I am interested in is to find out ways to promote the sense of  ownership of learning environments in education.


  • Buchem, Ilona, Attwell, Graham & Torres, Ricardo (2011). Understanding Personal Learning Environments:Literature review and synthesis through the Activity Theory lens. Proceedings of the The PLE Conference 2011, 10th – 12th July 2011, Southampton, UK.Sunday, July 15, 2012
  • Pierce, J. L., Kostova, T., Dirks, K. (2001). Toward a theory of psychological ownership in organizations. Academy of Management Review, 26, p. 298–310. 2.
  • Pierce, J. L., Kostova, T., Dirks, K. T. (2003). The state of psychological ownership: integrating and extending a century of research. Review of General Psychology, 7, p. 84– 107. 3.
  • Van Dyne, L., Pierce, J.L. (2004). Psychological ownership and feelings of possession: three field studies predicting employee attitudes and organizational citizenship behavior. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 25(4), p. 439-459.

ePortfolio Workshop in Berlin

This week I ran a two-day workshop on ePortfolios in higher education together with Birgitta Kinscher (a colleague from HTW and ePortfolio Initiative Berlin-Brandenburg). The workshop took place at the Berlin Center for Higher Education (BZHL) as part of the programme that BZHL offers to lecturers in higher education in Berlin.

It was the third workshop on ePortfolios that I have given and the largest in scope so far. However I must say even two intensive days are really not enough to cover the important topics. The workshop comprised of a mixture of different methods and tools, including:

  • Theory inputs focusing on self-directed learning, enhancing reflection and self-organisation
  • Recordings with practitioners from different fields which I have put into a public Mahara page (in German)
  • Group work on individual ideas and concepts that participants brought in
  • Practical work in Mahara including competence profiles and creating views
  • Best practice examples, including ePortfolio work by Klaus Himpsl-Gutermann
  • Exploring other tools for ePortfolios like Evernote, WordPress and wikis
  • Guest talk on using Evernote for ePortfolios by Marcel Dux
  • Spontaneous presentation on using wikis by Prof. Dr. Heike Wiesner
  • And some creative workshop techniques to inspire development of new solutions

It was great to watch the initial ePortfolio ideas that participants introduced at the beginning of the first day progress and take on new shapes. It was interesting facilitating this process and the results proved that it was the right decision to create a range of different examples, approaches and tools from which each participant could choose the most suitable to their individual needs.

We received much positive feedback, among others one participant mentioned that it was very valuable that we planned much time for group work and discussions. Yes, I definitely think time is important when it comes to transforming understanding and experience. What a luxury in our fast-paced times!

Also it was great to have 100% female participants for a change. As most of my students at Beuth are male, I have noticed how different it is to teach these two gender groups.

All in all I really enjoyed doing this workshop and I think we have arrived at a very good concept, which matured in the process itself. I am looking forward to the next ePortfolio workshop, which I hope to be able to host soon.

P.S. Thank you to all workshop participants and interviewees for their great contributions on the use of ePortfolios in higher education:

  • Dr. Klaus Himpsl-Gutermann (Donau-Universität Krems)
  • Gabrielle Hoffmann (Frauencomputerzentrums Berlin (FCZB)
  • Marcel Dux (Hochschule fuer Wirtschaft und Technik Berlin)
  • Marco Roettger (Beuth Hochschule fuer Technik Berlin)

ePortfolio in Europe – starting a cooperation network

Just recently we have started a Call for a European Consortium “European ePortfolio Network”. Our aim is to establish a network of actors involved in the design and implementation of ePortfolio policies, technologies and practice. As we would like to submit a proposal to the European Comission (3-year project), we are looking for both consortium partners and associate partners wishing to work with us on developing the European network and making European ePortfolio initiatives more visible, especially in terms of comparative national reports.

Here are some preliminary ideas on how we would like to make it happen:

Year 1: ePortfolio European inventory

Y1 is mainly focused on gathering intelligence on past, current and future ePortfolio and ePortfolio-related initiatives. The outcome of this collection of data will result in an interactive database/wiki that will facilitate the retrieval, aggregation, comparison and update of information related to ePortfolios. Making visible ePortfolio initiatives should result in the emergence of informal networks that will be formalised Y2.

Year 2: National and Thematic Reports

Based on the information gathered Y1, Y2 is mainly focused on the publication of national and thematic reports on the state of the art of ePortfolio practice and technologies, green and white papers. The publication of national reports, green and white papers will be organised through public consultation with all ePortfolio actors and should result in the creation of national/regional/sectoral/thematic networks, or their reinforcement where they exist. National reports will be published in national languages with executive reports in English, while thematic reports will be published in English with executive reports in national languages.

Year 3: Self-Sustainable European Network

Based on national and thematic reports, a number of public initiatives will be held: meetings, workshops seminars, conferences, plugfests etc. These events will be the opportunity to establish collaboration across actors to discuss further and implement the visions and ideas contained in the national reports, green and white papers. At the end of Y3 Europortfolio should become fully self-sustainable through the revenue generated by its activities (workshops, conferences, projects) and membership fees (individuals, organisations) collected by national chapters.

The initial summary of the proposal is accessible at If you are interested to join as a partner or associated partner, you are invited to provide details using an online form accessible at: Responses will be used to update the Summary and to invite partners to join as Partner or Associate Partner.

Your ideas, feedback and support on making a European ePortfolio Network happen are very welcome!*

Ilona Buchem (Beuth University, Germany) and Serge Ravet (ADPIOS, France)


*We look forward to your comments, emails or as entries in the online form:

Portfolia 2011 Berlin

Today I participated in Portfolia 2011 –  a workshop on E-Portfolios organised by eLearning Comptence Center at HTW University of Applied Sciences aiming at promoting E-Portfolios in Higher Education in Berlin. Today’s agenda comprised following topics:

  • Accredition of Prior Learning and E-Portfolios
  • Bottom-Up Strategies to Implementing E-Portfolios in HE
  • E-Portfolio Initative Berlin/Brandenburg
  • E-Portfolio Case Studies
  • E-Portfolio Standards

It was a great opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences and of course to network with interesting people.

A big “thank you” to @Marcel Dux for organising this great event!

Here is my presentation on “the bottom-up strategy to implementing e-portfolion in HE. Reflections from E-Portfolio Initiative Berlin.” The point I was making is that  implementation of e-portfolios requires change management and especially bottom-up strategies to promoting understanding of e-portfolios and change of personal concepts on teaching. The change of teaching culture in educational institutions needs to be supported by bottom-up processes so that innovative uses of e-portfolios can emerge. This is what we are doing in E-Portfolio Initiative Berlin – facilitating networking on the regional level, enhancing awareness of e-portfolio concepts and technologies, creating transparency and providing space for knowledge exchange and possible cooperations.

Risks of E-Portfolios for Assessment

Gabi Reinmann and Silvia Sippel in their article “High road or blind alley: e-portfolios for inquiry learning” name three risks of assessment portfolios in context of higher education:

  • The first risk is the conformance to rules and criteria due to establishing guidelines for students on the use e-portfolios. The more detailed and precise these guidelines are, the higher the risk of over-scripting, or too strict or too specific prescriptions of procedures and criteria (see also Dillenbourg). This may lead to students taking on a “strategic approach” and conforming to the established guidelines, at the same time neglecting own criteria and adjusting to external requirements.
  • The second risk is self-profiling due to external assessment of e-portfolios. The very fact that an e-portfolio is primarily created to be assessed by a teacher or other expert may lead to over-reflecting: Students may take a rather shallow approach to self-reflection or strive for presenting only their positive achievements. In both cases this may result is self-marketing rather than self-reflection.
  • The third risk is error prevention again due to external assessment. Avoiding showing own deficits or mistakes may lead to over-acting or emphasizing only positive or best practice examples of own practice. This may hinder learning from mistakes, recognizing the necessary steps for becoming an expert and leads to camouflage of own competencies.

The authors consider alternative ways of assessment, such as peer-assessment. However they conclude that this approach also brings some limitations, e.g. students have to be trained to be able to fulfill this task, which may be time-consuming and not feasible in all settings.

It would be interesting to learn if you encounter similar problems with application of e-portfolios as an assessment method and what strategies you apply to handle these problems. Thank you for your comments!

E-Portfolios and Online Presence

A recent Forbes blog post on personal branding based on the Office Team survey with HR managers has claimed that in the next years online presence will replace traditional resumes. The blog post advises to claim the online presence and manage the different personal profiles on social networks by setting up a central page to collect and showcase digital traces. Although the Office Team survey shows, that about 63% of HR managers don’t consider online presence to be a likely alternative to resumes, online presence is definitely already supplementing our resumes to a lesser or larger extent.  With recruiters using the Internet to conduct background searchers and applicant tracking, active management of own social media profiles becomes crucial. Since in some professions being present on social media has become a must, avoiding or ignoring the evidence   of social presence is not a viable solution.

The idea of aggregating our digital traces comes very close to the Personal Learning Environment approach and the idea of  bringing PLEs and E-Portfolio approaches closer together as expressed by and Simon Grant in his blog post “PLE, e-p, or what?” An e-portfolio based on the PLE approach would :

“(…) be a tool for bringing together evidence residing in different systems, and organising it to provide material for reflection on, and evidence of, skills and competence across different areas of life, and integrating with institutional systems for recognising what has already been learned, as well as slotting people in to suitable learning opportunities.”

If online presence is going to supplement or maybe even eventually taking over our resumes, how then career or showcase e-portfolios should be designed in order to support keeping track of, aggregating and evaluating various digital traces we create when using the web? What should an output presented to recruiters be like?

Stohmeier (2010) in his article “Electronic Portfolios in Recruiting?” makes an important point about what he calls “output quality” of e-portfolios defined as “ the degree to which e-portfolios are able to predict the fit of an individual with possibly volatile job, team and organizational requirements. Consequently, the validity (the degree to which e-portfolios inform about what they should inform) and reliability (the degree to which e-portfolios are accurate, i.e. free of measurement flaws) constitute valuable evaluation criteria for the output quality”.

However, he remarks that currently the functions which would automatically extract meaningful information for recruiting are missing:

“(…)  e-portfolios of current design are not able to predict the fit of an individual directly. Rather, e-portfolios offer valuable input information for the prediction task. This information, however, has to be “manually” retrieved, interpreted and used by the recruiter in order to predict potential fits. Given the extent of e-portfolios this “manual” retrieving and interpreting of offered information is a burdensome and laborious task for recruiters (…)”

This is really a good point that we also know from other uses of e-portfolios in educational contexts. For example in order to be able to assess learning progress of a person in reflection-based portfolios, complex evaluation criteria and time-consuming assessment procedures have to be applied, which may be the reason why still many educators are keep on taking up the e-portfolio approach.

It would be interesting to discuss which approaches can alleviate the cumbersome retrieval and interpretation of relevant information in e-portfolios, also in relation to multiple digital traces created by online presence.

Online Educa Berlin 2010

This year Online Eudca Berlin was as great as ever. Meeting all these great people that you are in touch with on Twitter, Facebook, Skype and other media face-to-face again or for the first times makes it so worthwhile every year.  This is just my short record, so that I know next year, what I did this year 😉

This year started for me with a pre-conference … oh no, wait, it started with an e-mail on the pre-conference day from organizers asking me if I wanted to join the Battle of the Bloggers as the fourth panelist. Well, this was a really short notice. As I was completely tied up with other things and have experienced  a slight, ok a medium, ok ok maybe more than medium, burn-out after intensive work on a proposal bid, I just decided not to. Yes, I must admit I started to regret it the moment I was there. And the other panelists as I found out later were a completely friendly and civilised bunch of people 😉 – (remember the opinionated speakers last year).  So yes, next year I’d love to join but with a little more-in-advance notice please?

The real pre-conference started for me with a workshop on “Usable Representations of Learning Design for Educators and Instructional Designers” with Gráinne Conole (and here), C. Vrasidas and S. Retalis. It turned out to be a very good choice and I was so glad to get to know  Gráinne in person. I got to know Cloudworks much better and learnt some handy ways of representing learning designs that I will recommend to my team at the Mediencommunity project. Dear Grainne, it would be great to get further materials on the LD tools. I think they will be pretty useful to my project. As we are designing online seminars which are planning to roll-out in spring, using LD tools will be very useful to communicate the design to the design team and to the moderators who will facilitate the online seminars.

After the workshop there was speakers’ reception and I enjoyed touching base with the chair of my session Teri and her colleague Timo both from Helsinki. I then had a wonderfully interesting conversation with Mark Childs about digital identities. Thank you Mark, it was great sharing ideas with you!

Thursday was the first conference day and a complete public transport chaos due to heavy snowfall and ice. As I live outside Berlin, it took me over 3 hours to get to the venue on that day. It was unbelievable – trains simply got canceled and as I had no winter tires on my car I was stuck at the railway station drinking one hot chocolate after the other. Finally when I got to OEB, my session on e-portfolios was already on, so I almost jumped from snow into the presenting mode. It was a good session though and I enjoyed talking about the idea of fostering the readiness of organisations for a change from bottom-up as an important, and often neglected, aspect of implementing e-portfolios. I presented together with my colleague Birgitta Kinscher as we related to our bottom-up activities in the E-Portfolio Initiative Berlin (and here), where we are both members. You can see the slides on SlideShare.

Then I attended the Battle of the Bloggers which this year was called “The Graveyard of Learning”. The panelists were sharing their opinions on learning trends, tools and theories, declaring them dead, alive or zombie. I really enjoyed a good mix of arguments by Tom Wambeke, John Traxler and Hans de Zwart and the fact that the audience was engaged in voting though a new tool called shakespeak invented and introduced by a young start-up. BTW it’s a nice and easy-to-use voting tool.

Last conference day, which was today was full of new encounters and talks, including Sounds of the Bazaar interviews. This year I happened to be on the other side – instead of interviewing I was interviewed, which was nice too. I talked about e-portfolios and E-Portfolio Initiative Berlin. Then we (Judith Seipold and Klaus Rummler as interviewers me, Birgitta Kinscher and Hörg Hafer representing E-Portfolio Initiative Berlin), recorded a podcast about e-portfolios which I am looking forward to see on the Pontydysgu website soon!

The session I really enjoyed today was the one on “Informal Ethics” with the renowned speakers: John Traxler, Andy Black, Steve Wheeler, Mark Childs and Geoff Stead. This interesting and not that often discussed topic was well presented in its complexity and from different perspectives which has inspired me to think and read more about ethics in social media and beyond. Steve Wheeler mentioned a publication coming up soon on “informal ethics” and I am really looking forward to it. Where will I/we be able to find it Steve?

Last session I attended today was the Engage award session in game-based learning. There were 3 winners, among them the winner of the best learning game: Congratulations to all nominees and winners!

Of course Online Educa Berlin 2010 is not over yet! Oh now, the discussion and sharing is still going on. People are tweeting about it  simply search by hashtags #oeb10 or #oeb2010 ) and new blogposts, videos, pictures and other user-generated contents is surely popping up on the Web soon.

All in all – what a vibrant, rich  conference with a global community feeling! Can’t wait until next year!