ePortfolios and Sustainability

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The University of New South Wales lists one of the benefits of assessing learning with ePortfolios is they “act as sustainable assessment that enables students to identify their learning, make, judgements about it and prepare themselves for future learning” (2018). They cite David Boud’s work on sustainable assessment as type of assessment that meets “the specific and immediate goals of a course as well as establishing a basis for students to undertake their own assessment activities in the future” (2000, p. 151). This mention of sustainable assessment caught my attention because it is similar to a concept I have been thinking another concept I have been thinking about incorporating into the courses I teach.

Since becoming interested in open educational resources (OER) and open enabled pedagogy (OEP), I have been thinking more about sustainable assignments. These are in contrast to “disposable assignments” like those described by David Wiley.  Wiley has been critical of essays and other inauthentic types of assessment tools that both students and faculty alike dislike for they “add no value to the world, they actually suck value out of the world.” Traditional forms of essays are typically written only for the instructor to grade, and serve no other purpose as they are quickly discarded.  In contrast the assignments discussed in our panel were renewable – they leveraged students’ energy and efforts to generate materials and resources that could benefit others beyond the limited time and space of the course. Or as Maha Bali advocates, they supported a focus on student work being public in which the purpose is “for students to use their learning in more authentic and meaningful ways, and sometimes interact with others in the world beyond the classroom’s walls.” It was great to see how ePortfolios fit into this category of sustainable assignments I have been already investigating.


Bali, M. (April 24, 2017). What is Open Pedagogy Anyway Open Pedagogy Open Discussion, accessed 20 April 2020 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmPmZEhy3Lc.

Boud, D. (2000) Sustainable assessment: rethinking assessment for the learning society. Studies in Continuing Education 22(2), 151–167.

Wiley, D. (2013). What is Open Pedagogy? Iterating toward openness, accessed 20 April 2020 https://opencontent.org/blog/archives/2975.

UNSW (2018) Assessing with EPortfolios, Accessed https://teaching.unsw.edu.au/assessing-eportfolios

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