Electronic portfolios (ePortfolios) are used to document and support learning activities. E-portfolios with mobile capabilities allow even more flexibility. However, the development or acquisition of ePortfolio software is often costly, and at the same time, commercially available systems may not sufficiently fit the institution’s needs. The aim of this study was to design and evaluate an ePortfolio system with mobile capabilities using a commercially free and open source software solution.
We created an online ePortfolio environment using the blogging software WordPress based on reported capability features of such software by a qualitative weight and sum method. Technical implementation and usability were evaluated by 25 medical students during their clinical training by quantitative and qualitative means using online questionnaires and focus groups.
The WordPress ePortfolio environment allowed students a broad spectrum of activities – often documented via mobile devices – like collection of multimedia evidences, posting reflections, messaging, web publishing, ePortfolio searches, collaborative learning, knowledge management in a content management system including a wiki and RSS feeds, and the use of aid tools for studying. The students’ experience with WordPress revealed a few technical problems, and this report provides workarounds. The WordPress ePortfolio was rated positively by the students as a content management system (67 % of the students), for exchange with other students (74 %), as a note pad for reflections (53 %) and for its potential as an information source for assessment (48 %) and exchange with a mentor (68 %). On the negative side, 74 % of the students in this pilot study did not find it easy to get started with the system, and 63 % rated the ePortfolio as not being user-friendly. Qualitative analysis indicated a need for more introductory information and training.
It is possible to build an advanced ePortfolio system with mobile capabilities with the free and open source software WordPress. This allows institutions without proprietary software to build a sophisticated ePortfolio system adapted to their needs with relatively few resources. The implementation of WordPress should be accompanied by introductory courses in the use of the software and its apps in order to facilitate its usability.