Connecting the Dots With ePortfolios Part 1: Digication Tools and the Power of ePortfolios

Connecting the Dots With ePortfolios Part 1: Digication Tools and the Power of ePortfolios

By: Kellie Ferguson, Faculty Developer of Integrative and Experiential Learning, and Stephen Riley, Director of Academic Assessment 

In the evolving landscape of higher education, there are many tools that exist to help instructors assess student learning. One tool that allows instructors to assess student learning on multiple levels, from achievement of learning outcomes within individual assignments to achieving learning outcomes across a program, is the ePortfolio.  

ePortfolios are digital platforms where students showcase artifacts to represent their academic experiences and reflect on their growth and learning across time. The digital tools used to create an ePortfolio allow students to weave together multimedia elements, evidence of learning, and reflections into an integrative tapestry. Additionally, ePortfolios have been proven to be a High-Impact Practice, defined by the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) as practices with “evidence of significant educational benefits for students who participate in them—including and especially those from demographic groups historically underserved by higher education” (AAC&U, n.d., “High-Impact Practices”).  

At DU, we have embraced Digication as our ePortfolio platform, replacing DU Portfolio. With DU Portfolio scheduled to sunset in summer 2024, Digication will be the primary ePortfolio platform for DU moving forward. In terms of assessment, which is the focus of this blog series, Digication offers several features that can transform the quest for student engagement and assessment of learning into a vibrant dialogue.  

In the opening installment of our four-part blog series on leveraging ePortfolios for assessment, we will explore the assessment tools embedded in Digication and examine how ePortfolios can facilitate the evaluation of student learning. 

Digication’s Assessment Tools

Digication allows students to express their learning beyond the limitations of more traditional assignments, like a single test or essay. It acts as a platform where students can integrate their learning across an assignment, course, or program. It’s important to note here that ePortfolio assignments are most effective when students gather artifacts and reflect on them over an extended period, such as an entire term or as part of a program. If students are primarily submitting individual assignments without an overarching reflective element, or you are looking for a platform for simply sharing content with students, it’s recommended to use Canvas instead

Before we get into designing course assignments to fit the ePortfolio, it’s important to know what tools Digication offers that can help you achieve this. Digication offers a variety of tools that can help instructors assign and assess assignments directly within the ePortfolio space. These tools include the ability to: 

Now that we’ve looked at the assessment tools available in Digication, let’s explore how ePortfolios can empower students to express and share what they’ve learned! 

The Power of ePortfolios for Assessment

One goal of assessment is knowing how well students can transfer their learning from our classrooms to a new context.  We do this often by having students engage in authentic learning demonstrations to replicate the types of situations students will find themselves in when they are outside of our course.  For example, we have students engage in case studies to see how well they can apply the knowledge they have learned into a new situation (Huba & Freed, 2000, pp.37).  Another way to assess learning transfer is to have students reflect on their own growth in understanding.  This metacognitive practice offers us the opportunity to see how students are making connections between the knowledge and skills they are learning in our course and their experiences and learning in other contexts (Griggs et al., 2018).  

ePortfolios are an excellent platform to use when assessing student’s abilities to make these types of connections. This is because “reflection is at the heart of the ePortfolio, as it most clearly shows us what our students think about what they are learning” (Parkes et. al, 2013, pp.102). The significance of an ePortfolio lies in its ability to go “beyond simply collecting and storing artifacts toward leveraging digital technologies’ potential to make unique linkages, connections, and reflections among multiple experiences and artifacts in ways that would not otherwise be possible with a traditional paper portfolio” (Parkes et. al., 2013, pp. 101).  This establishes the ePortfolio as an ideal platform for assessing student’s ability to reflect on their learning and articulate how they might apply that knowledge beyond the classroom.  

Let’s consider an example about how this might work in practice: 

  • In a chemistry course, students engaged in various projects throughout the term. Rather than relying on a conventional final paper or exam to assess their cumulative learning, the instructor opted for an ePortfolio assignment. In this assignment, students collect and showcase artifacts representing their growth and learning over the term. They also respond to prompts asking them to reflect on their challenges faced throughout the term, share any breakthrough moments, and discuss their evolving understanding of scientific concepts. This reflective aspect not only allows students to showcase a deeper comprehension of the subject matter but also provides the instructor with insights into their growth, comprehension, and ability to apply concepts throughout the term. 

The type of reflective and metacognitive thinking that is central to the ePortfolio leads to long lasting connections for students and moves beyond simply completing tasks for grades toward emphasizing critical thinking about learning. In the assessment world, this type of student reflection about learning is an important part of understanding how well students are moving toward accomplishing the outcomes we have set for them (Mikalayeva, 2020). Additionally, it helps students make connections across the varied experiences that they will have during their time as DU students. 

If you find the assessments discussed here align with your interests and course objectives, be sure to explore our upcoming blog post, which will explore using ePortfolios to facilitate and evaluate formative assessments in your course! 

For more technological or pedagogical support with ePortfolios and Digication, check out the OTL’s Digication and ePortfolio Resources page, or contact Kellie Ferguson, the Faculty Developer of Integrative and Experiential Learning, at or book a 1:1 consultation. For more support with assessment, check the OTL’s Assessment@DU page, or contact Stephen Riley, the Director of Academic Assessment, at or book a 1:1 consulation.  


AAC&U. (n.d.). High-Impact Practices. 

Griggs, V., Holden, R., Lawless, A., & Rae, J. (2018). From reflective learning to reflective practice: Assessing transfer. Studies in Higher Education, 43(7), 1172–1183. 

Huba, M. E., & Freed, J. E. (2000). Learner-centered assessment on college campuses: Shifting the focus from teaching to learning. Allyn and Bacon. 

Mikalayeva, L. (2020). Introduction: encouraging student reflection—approaches to teaching and assessment. European Political Science, 19(1), 1–8. 

Parkes, K.A., Dredger, K.S., & Hicks, D. “ePortfolio as a Measure of Reflective Practice.” International Journal of ePortfolios, 3(1), 99-115.