Purpose – E‐portfolios, which document and facilitate learning and performance, have recently attracted interest in the USA, UK, and Europe as means to increase employability and support lifelong learning. This article aims to critically examine these objectives in order to guide the future e‐portfolio practice. Design/methodology/approach – Social theory, drawing on the work of Foucault, suggests that the discourse of employability and lifelong learning shapes individuals into means to fulfill economic objectives. This theory is applied to show that many e‐portfolio projects participate in this discourse. In the USA, the discourse around integrative learning suggests an alternative. Findings – Integrative learning has two different styles, which correspond with two different types of self, the network and symphonic. The network self suggests ways for e‐portfolios to promote employability, while representing the symphonic in e‐portfolios creates space for a broader conception of what is important in life that pushes back against an entirely economic conception of citizenship. e‐portfolio projects have made progress cultivating both kinds of selves, and two, the Nedcar project in The Netherlands, and the eFolio Minnesota project in the USA, are examined. These selves need to be woven together, layering the networked and symphonic, to create e‐portfolios that promote employability while asserting the value of their authors as whole human beings. The idea of “good work” developed to describe the professions may serve as a model for this integration. Originality/value – Much current work developing e‐portfolio software, services, and policies uncritically embraces the problematic conceptions of employability and lifelong learning discussed. The alternative model proposed in the paper can inform future work.
Campus-Wide Information Systems – Emerald Publishing
Published: Aug 29, 2008
Keywords: Employment; Lifelong learning; Competences; Self development
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