The digital portfolio to make formal, non
formal and informal learning visible
Training and discussion laboratory
Rome, March, 27th 2008
Anna Maria Ajello & Cristina Belardi
University of Rome ‘Sapienza’
1. A brief introduction: the ‘history’ of portfolio
2. Assessing NFL and IFL in the European
3. A project for recognising NF and IF learning
of young disadvantaged people
4. The portfolio as an assessing tool
5. The construction of a digital portfolio
The ‘history’ of portfolio: recently
• European Union
• Debate about the portfolio as a useful tool to
make visible and to prove what a person is
able to do
• From a lifelong and life wide learning point of
The ancient ‘history’ of portfolio
• Tool used by artists like painters and
• to show their best products and their
competences to their prospects
Another recent ‘history’ of portfolio
• Contribution of cognitive psychology and
sociocultural psychology to the ‘science of
• More complex ways of considering learning and
• brought to elaborate evaluating tools –like the
portfolio- that could fit for new assessing pourposes
and processes (authentic assessment)
Assessing NFL and IFL in the
European context
In the European context
1. Important role to lifelong learning (to
change the job, mobility etc.);
2. Importance of every kind of learning,
acquired in different type of contexts
(F-formal, NF-non formal, IF-informal)
(Rough) differences among F, NF and IF learning
Type of
School, training courses
Outside the
institutional and
educational contexts
(e.g. lessons at home to
learn how to play
Daily life activities
(work, leisure, hobbies
It is important to make connections among the contexts
where several type of learning are acquired in order to
Personal satisfaction
Active citizenship
Social inclusion
In order to do it, is required to develop new validation
processes and methods.
Several initiatives in European countries as described in the
‘European Inventory on validation of non formal
and informal learning’
by Otero M.S., McCoshan A., Junge K., 2005, ECOTEC
Research & Consulting :
Es: Booklet in Finland, Digital Portfolio in Italy, etc.
Projects managed directly by E.C. and by CoE:
• European Portfolio of languages
• European Portfolio for youth leaders and
A project for recognising NF and IF
learning of young disadvantaged people
Aim: recognition of informal competencies acquired by
young disadvantaged people with a medium-low
level of education
Target group: known to have few literacy- competencies
Tool/method: “user friendly”, not a software for selfassessment
A quotation from an interview with a young Italian drop-out:
M: well, since I am crazy about Bob Marley, the colours of the
Reggae’s flag are green, yellow and red. I have a wall full of
Bob’s posters, so I put green, yellow and red lamps ….at the
background I get reggae’s flag. It’s really cool! I get Bob’s
image, on a Reggae background.
Interv:: So you want to put them parallel to each other, like this (with
my hands I show the parallel position of the lamps) in such a
way that the three colours of the flag are appearing.
M: yes
Interv: And which was ….what do you have to invent? How to
attach them to the wall?
M: no, not how to attach them to the wall, I have to invent…I
mean I have to find a way to synchronize because you can’t
just put one here and another one there…I have to find out
how to direct it.
Interv:: oh, oh, I understand. And you attached the lamps to
the cable, everything ? Well done! And how did you do it,
had you already learnt how to do it, had you learnt it here?
M: my father taught me.
The interviews: some results
The persons who taught the dropouts how to perform
are: friends, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters,
uncles and aunts, grandparents, parents in-law.
Many of them watched the expert performing an
activity and then they “stole” some information about
how to perform “with their eyes” and then copied
They tried by themselves, asking the expert for some
E.g.: Maurizio ( 16 years old) - I saw some friends of mine
while they were doing it, I liked it so I have tried.... at the
beginning they helped me, then I did it by myself.
They learned to do things by themselves just by reading,
trying, inventing, or doing.
E.g.: Luca, 17 years old,: - Once the TV remote control was
broken, so I opened it because if something was broken I
could solder it again.... I tried by myself.
It is ironic that many young disadvantaged
people trivialize what they learned in informal
contexts, outside school, such as M. who says
I’m able to knock down a wall, but I think
everybody can: he belittles himself.
Characteristics of IL:
• everyday life activities - learning result of
meaningful activities (Rogoff and Lave 1984,
Lave, 1988)
• nature partly tacit (Polany, 1967) - hard to
explain verbally and not even aware -
Learning: a process in everyday lives
Origins: research about ‘everyday cognition’ and
‘apprentiship in thinking’ (Rogoff e Lave, 1984;
Rogoff, 1991),
Learning as participating in situated activities
which make sense for people involved.
Learning is a characteristic of every human life
from its beginning to the end.
Learning in school
• Different from the way we learn at school: we
learn concepts related to disciplines through
verbal practices
• Also evaluating practices are verbal
We suggest to take into consideration a piece
written by L. Resnick, concerning how to
evaluate learning acquired at work through a
portfolio and by means of ‘on demand’
L. Resnick’s description of the portfolio:
methodology of assessment to be used within
educational and training contexts
A young woman needs to carry out evidences of
her skills to gain a place as a senior apprentice in
the workshop of a famous weaver.
1. The young woman’s portfolio would include:
woman’s works
a letter written by the craftsman in whose shop
she did her initial apprentice work stamped with
the establishment’s known seal
few words – added by that craftsman - about the
reliability and willingness of work of the aspirant.
certification from the Regional Association of
Weavers from which the applicant came
2. On-demand performance assessment : the master
weaver could check the applicant’s skills to produce
work of the kind included in her portfolio by
watching her producing similar pieces of work.
3. A jury to examine portfolios and evaluate
4. Standards explaining the criteria for the kind of work
he should include
Another way of considering learning and assessment
being able to perform well in particular
Performance assessment:
focused on certifying accomplishments rather
than on identifying enduring traits of individuals
During the InTra project we could elaborate a tool for
making learning visible –not for assessing or evaluatingthrough a digital portfolio including:
photos of the works/accomplishments
videos to make the procedures with
which the young people carried out their
works visible
Portfolio as an interesting tool to make visible IFL
acquired by young disadvantaged people.
It is important to acknowledge the differences among
assessment, recognition, validation and making visible,
etc. !!
O bjective of the
process of
analysis of
com petencies
T o m ake visible
T o recogn ise
T o evaluate
C ertification of
com peten cies
K ind of activities a person
should be able to do
A ctivities ch osen by th e
person that wish es to
evaluate its own in form al
com peten cies
Represen tative activities
selected by th e person s th at
are in volved in th e analysis
of com peten cies.
E m blem atic activities
selected by th e key actors of
th e system , to be realised in
form al evaluation situation s.
E m blem atic activities
selected by th e key actors of
th e system , to be realised in
form al evaluation situation s.
T ype of proof
K ind of shared criteria for the analysis of
com petencies
outcom es of
(agreem ent between th e tutor an d th e person
wan ting to evaluate his form al and in form al
outcom es of
represen tative
(agreem ent between m ore than two person s)
E m blem atic
outcom es
E m blem atic
outcom es
Public evaluation criteria, shared by th e key
actors of th e system (e.g. M inistry of
E ducation, V ocation al train ing centres,
com panies etc.).
Public evaluation criteria, shared by th e key
actors of th e system an d
diplom as/certificates that are recogn ised at
in stitutional level (e.g. by R egion al
auth orities, th e M inistry of E ducation,
V ocation al trainin g cen tres)
To understand the characteristics of
the portfolio method we have to
clarify some new concepts
elaborated in the field of psychology,
hence we have to connect to the
recent hystory of portfolio.
• Contribution of cognitive psychology and
sociocultural psychology to the ‘science of
• More complex ways of considering learning
and knowing
• brought to elaborate evaluating tools –like the
portfolio- that could fit for new assessing
pourposes and processes (authentic
Authentic assessment
It is different from testing:
performance assessment through the
simulation of real, everyday situations
Authentic assessment
Questions asked to the students: make sense
for them, related to the syllabus (curriculum)
covered in the course of the term
Activities of teaching/learning: several,
Portfolio: broad definition
Significant collection of the works.
It gives evidence to the history of the efforts, of
the advances and of the outcomes achieved in
one or more learning fields or professional
‘A must for the process’:
a) the student’s participation in choosing the
b) The explanation of criteria for choosing the
contents ;
c) Criteria for giving the credits;
d) Evidence of student’s thinking about his/her
learning process and outcomes
Differences among portfolios related to:
• Goals to be achieved through it
• Contents selected
• Who is the manager/owner of the
Working portfolio
Collection of products made in time
No systematic selection of the products with reasons
it helps in becoming more aware of the process of
learning but not in critically analysing important
moments in the learning process when the person
increased (or not) in terms of learning
It is not assessment
During the construction of a portfolio there is
assessment when … the person
• collects products,
• thinks about his/her learning process
• takes decisions concerning his/her future
To think about the practice (about his/her own
products and learning processes) positively affects
metacognitive and affective/motivational processes :
• increasing awareness, autonomy and responsibility
• practices, products, learning and about oneself as
learning person and as actor becoming expert.
Digital instead of paper portfolio
• It allows to give evidence both of the end
product through photos of it, and of the
process during which the product was made
through videos.
• Innovation for the disciplines of evaluation:
process evaluation no more distinguished
from outcome evaluation (no more
The construction of a Digital Portfolio
• Meeting and interviews between the tutor
and the user.
• Tools like a computer, a scanner, a
videocamera, etc .
• 5 main phases.
First Phase
• Tools to be used: A PC with Cd reader and
word processor, a Cd Rom with an example of
a digital portfolio already completed
• Objectives: to conclude a good working
and to start projecting the
First Phase
• Activities: to analyse the reasons why the user would
like to make his/her own portfolio (goals to reach); to
explain to the user the objectives of the process,
describing what a digital portfolio exactly is, and the
extent of both his and the tutors involvement,
underlining the importance of the mutual
• It is useful at this point to illustrate the differences
between the three types of learning.
Second Phase
• Tools to be used: a paper folder for each user,
a computer, and sheets of paper
• Objectives: Analyse and choose the proofs of
formal and non-formal learning to be inserted
into the digital portfolio.
Second Phase
• To Provide the user with a paper folder:
“paper portfolio” that will precede the
construction of the digital version on Cd
• To Prepare a Word file with his/her personal
Second Phase
To analyse with the user his institutional
To list on a sheet of paper the institutional
certificates (formal learning)
To analyse non-formal learning activities
To think about evidences and to list them
(Certificates, Self-declarations, References
like letters from an employer, etc.)
Second Phase
• To sum up all the proofs of the formal
and non-formal learning
• To suggest to comment on and to
explain the reasons why s/he chose
those evidences
Third Phase
• Tools to be used: Software Editor for
presentations, a scanner, video captures
software, a computer with Cd Rom reader, a
Cd Rom, an interview model, sheets of paper.
• Objective: Begin to structure the digital
portfolio and to realize a semi-structured
interview in order to analyse the user’s
informal learning and to favour the process
leading to awareness.
Analysis of IFL through a
semistructured interview
• A kind of research process in which both the
tutor and the user are involved
• The tutor supports the person in the collection
of data concerning his informal competencies
through a process of active interpersonal
communication between the tutor and the
young person.
• Useful tools: 2 interview models
• Each interview model covers a specific context
of informal training i.e. work and free time.
• The models permit the tutor to take notes
concerning the data collected during the semistructured interview and to summarise
consequently the various activity systems in
which the young person is competent.
• The tutor asks the user to describe the
activities in which s/he has taken part in the
various informal contexts and tries to get a
particular insight into the methods and
sources of learning, into the tools that the
person has learned to use in order to realise
those activities and into the type of products
resulting from it, which are the visible results
of these activities.
n. 1
Context :Work
Methods and Sources of
Scooter repaired
1.A photo of the
scooter before and after
2. A letter signed by
the boss of the
mechanic shop
Lists of the materials to
buy and the
specifications of
quantity of each
1.List of products
ordered and bought
2. Photographs of
boxes of materials
ordered and delivered
to the shop
Mechanic: repaired
scooters and
Observing the boss at work
and receiving lessons from
him on this matter
n. …………
Helping father in
family shop
By asking questions to his
father and receiving
informative response
n. 2
Context: Free Time (Hobbies, Sport, Home)
Methods and sources of
Observing friends, reading
books titled…
Trying by myself.
n ...
Observing and listening to
instructions from mother,
sister etc.
Ex. Repairing the T.V.
remote control
Trying on his own to take it
apart and put it back
together again
1.. ……….
2.. ……..
3.. ………
n.. ………
painting 1
painting 2
1.photoraph of a
2.Video recording of
the young person
1.Photograph of a cake
2.Video recording of
the young person
remote control being
Photo and video of the
remote control being
repaired by the youth
At the end of the semi-structured interview
the tutor summarises all activities that the
user is capable of performing, highlighting the
person’s informal competencies and then asks
him to choose which competencies are the
most important in his opinion, and should be
included in his portfolio.
• One of the aspects to which the tutor must
pay major attention when managing the
interview for the analysis of competencies
acquired in informal learning contexts regards
the tendency of the young persons to
marginalise the importance of such
The tutor must guide the person through the
realisation of the digital portfolio without
substituting his choices, realising a scaffolding
activity (Wood D., Bruner J., Ross G., 1976),
which means a psychological support
(emotional and cognitive).
The proofs of informal competencies that can be
inserted on the Cd Rom are:
• Letters from employers
• Photographs of products produced in work-related
activities and in free time
• Video recordings.
The photos represent static recognition of products and
therefore static proof of competencies that are
acquired in informal contexts.
• At the end of this phase the tutor will fix a new
appointment with the user in which he will ask him
to bring the products to be photographed or the
photographs already taken with a digital camera.
• The two must come to an agreement concerning the
video to be recorded, in other words on which
activity realized in informal contexts to be filmed, on
the place where the filming should take place, etc.
Fourth Phase
• Tools to be Used: Camera and digital video
camera, Cd Rom Computer with Cd reader
• Objectives: To choose, realize, and insert the
photographs into the “informal learning”
section of the digital portfolio, to record the
Fourth Phase
• To make and to choose the photos to be
included, and to choose the order of the
• with the support of the tutor s/he can write
comments near each photo to clarify the type
of product or the result of the activity that is
being illustrated.
• To make videos
Fifth Phase
• Tools to be Used : Cd Rom. and a computer
with Cd Rom reader.
• Objectives and activities: To insert the video
film on the Cd Rom, eventually making final
modifications to the digital portfolio and to
observe the final product; to plann future
Must be fully aware of the characteristics of
informal learning (everyday learning) to be able
to recognise immediately the fields of activity in
which the person who is to realise the portfolio
is competent, watching out all the time for
eventual trivialisations.
• To be able to validate the personal
characteristics and competencies that until
that moment were not sufficiently valorised,
hence s/he will be able to support the user in
a process aimed at self-empowerment.
• To support the young person during moments
in which he/she encounters difficulties in
verbally expressing him/herself
The tutor must be well aware of the two
characteristics that qualify the dialogue to
realise the construction of the digital portfolio
as a guidance counselling interview.
• The first regards the perspective of temporal
dimension of the dialogue between tutor and
the young person, which must particularly
focus on changes and on future plans.
• The second characteristic concerns the
emotive support that the tutor should offer to
the person, responding “ to his expectations
of trust and confirmation of the rationality of
his decisions” ( Bastianoni P., Simonelli A.,
2001). The tutor should demonstrate to be a
trustworthy mediator.

Diapositiva 1