Portfolio vs. Dossier

In the background thinking/planning for our own "ePortfolios" project (man, I hate that "e") we realized that many/most of the off-the-shelf portfolio packages were really just simple fill-in-the-blanks templates. Not really a portfolio, at all. Essentially a simple dossier. A collection of standardized data about a person, with no real creative input required or allowed.

A portfolio (e- or otherwise) is about as far from a simple templated dossier as I can imagine. Ok. Flying monkeys with laser guns on their heads would be farther, but you get the point. Portfolios are a process of creative expression. Of reflecting on what you've done, how you did it, and hopefully, where you'd like to go. Every person's portfolio should be different. Different content, different presentation, different context. Things that a dossier just can't capture. Dossiers are good for comparing batches of nearly-identical things, and helping to highlight differences between them. I imagine a hiring committee sitting at a big table with a stack of 500 of these templated dossiers, sorting them by some criterion to get to the Right Person To Hire.

That's not really what a portfolio should be - it's best used as a showcase for an individual. I picture the portfolio as being closer to the job interview than the resume. It's a creative proxy for an individual, not a standardized data transmission vector.

So, when we were deep in development of Pachyderm, and tossing ideas around about how it could be used academically, the idea of a dynamic, interactive, person-centric portfolio management tool seemed pretty cool. It's totally not what Pachyderm was initially designed or intended to do, but because it's basically content-agnostic, it doesn't care how you use it. And that's pretty much what we need from an "ePortfolio" authoring tool.

I'm very interested to see how the first batch of students use it, and what they come up with. Should be interesting...

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