Over a number of years the idea of enabling learners to move from one educational context to another at different times throughout their careers has grown.
The 2005 Department for Education and Skills E-strategy, Harnessing Technology: Transforming learning and children’s services proposed that there should be a personal online space for every learner which would contribute to an electronic portfolio to build a record of achievement throughout lifelong learning:
'As a learner progresses through life (school, college, university, work), their records of admission, transcripts, evidence of achievement and personal development plans are often deleted or archived with no support once they leave the institution. The result is a huge waste of time and effort with the learner repeatedly collating and resubmitting the same information to subsequent institutions. These certificates, records of achievement, work examples etc are typically stored in a shoebox on top of the wardrobe until the next time they’re needed.'
NB This strategy is no longer current or being pursued. Indeed, it has been superseded by developments such as Cloud Computing that enable free storage and open source applications such as WordPress that have been used as e-portfolio tools.
A number of Jisc-funded projects have explored how e-portfolios can encourage and support lifelong learning, among them the EELLS and FILE-PASS projects.
East of England lifelong learning support (EELLS)
The EELLS project developed an e-portfolio which was independent of any institution but one that would provide a portal based e-portfolio service for lifelong learners in the East of England. The vision was to invite all lifelong learners within the region to capitalise on their learning before, during, and after formal education, regardless of provider of the educational experience. This e-portfolio system is now available to learners throughout the East of England at MOVE, the Lifelong Learning Network for the East of England.
Facilitation independent learning using e-portfolio and associated support systems (FILE-PASS)
The FILE-PASS project sought to use the e-portfolio to help ‘isolated’ learners engage with lifelong learning and to gain access to the opportunities provided by HEIs for personal and work-related development. Although learners did use the e-portfolio, to help them engage in the reflective process one-to-one or close tutorial support was required. The project concluded that ‘with appropriate support, it does appear that for a worthwhile proportion of learners an e-portfolio helps them to recognise, record and plan their own achievements.’