"BIS identifies a series of reforms that will ‘equip learners with high-quality skills for productive, sustainable employment and personal fulfilment; and they will ensure that employers have the right skills for their business to succeed in a competitive global economy."
FE reform white paper: raising skills, improving life chances
As we move into an educational arena where learners are more diverse than ever, bringing new requirements and expectations to the table, various facets are being encouraged and incentivised by external agencies and even legislated for.
Widening participation has been high on national agendas since the late 1990s and is still an important aspect of many institutional strategies. JISC projects have demonstrated that using e-portfolios can assist non-traditional applicants in identifying their aspirations by goal-setting, planning and recording evidence of their attainments.
Lifelong learning underpins many initiatives. Nowadays, the majority of people change careers several times during their working lives and take up new interests post-retirement. e-Portfolios have the potential to enable a lifetime portfolio to be built with formal records, evidence of achievement and personal development planning following the lifelong learner through school, college, university, work, continuing professional development…
Employability can be a strong driver for learners to engage with e-portfolios as they are able to personalise the view that they present to different perspective employers. Employers frequently do not have the time to read through large amounts of text and use of appropriate media to highlight relevant skills and experience can give an applicant the ‘edge’. Employability is central to BIS policies and initiatives and was an Enhancement Theme of the QAA.
Internationalisation links closely with employability. By incorporating the European Diploma Supplement into e-portfolios and applying the European Credit Transfer System, learners can take the opportunities presented for increased mobility and improved employability.
Achievement and attainment can be demonstrated and improved (due to the emphasis on reflection) by implementing e-portfolios. Making the outcomes and results of learning more explicit and the basis of academic standards clearer has been on the agenda of the QAA since the late 1990s.
Retention of students is an issue for most colleges and universities and many have implemented systems for early identification and support of students at risk. Although a body of tangible evidence is not yet available, early signs are that e-portfolios can assist learners by supporting individual goal setting coupled with reflection. Sharing ideas, thoughts and concerns with peers through e-portfolios helps learners to feel less isolated and gives them a sense of still belonging to a like-minded group.
Personalisation means that learners can take responsibility for, and are able to manage, their learning and develop the habits of effective learning. The Department for Education and Skills (now the Department for Education) 2006 Teaching and Learning Review 2020 recognises that personalisation is an important aspect to the future of education in the UK and that using e-portfolios in the curriculum can support their aim of personalisation for inclusion.