Teaching and Learning at The University of Hong Kong HKU

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Universities have progressively turned to technology-enhanced strategies for teaching, learning and making learner-centred student assessment, inspiring life-long learning (Lopez-Fernandez & Rodriguez-Illera, 2009). E-portfolio supports this need, and has been used with different focuses for students, teachers and institutions in the education sector. Therefore, expectations for e-portfolios are constantly changing over the years.

A review of the literature shows that there are three primary functions of e-portfolios that support users’ affective and cognitive development – documentation (evidence and outcomes of learning), reflections on learning, and collaboration.

On documentation, personal, professional and intellectual development of students can be well recorded and supported in e-portfolios (Watson & Doolittle, 2011). The collection, organisation and analysis of various learning artefacts motivate students to process and make connections. (Loreanzo & Ittelson, 2005a).

For reflections on learning, Lorenzo & Ittelson (2005a, 2005b) believe that e-portfolios encourage self-reflection and ‘involve exchange of ideas and feedback,’ enhancing information literacy. An in-depth learning involving ‘reflection, intrinsic motivation, story-telling, interconnections and real meaning making’ can be fostered, and students ‘learn by doing’ (Barrett, 2004; Cooper and Love, 2007, as cited in Buzzetto-More, 2010, p.66).

In relation to collaboration, Ahn (2004) views e-portfolio as an effective mechanism to encourage users to interact with peers, thus creating a good learning community. Students embrace learning from non-traditional activities (Wang, 2009, as cited in Buzzetto-More, 2010).

At HKU, how should we come up with solutions that are agile enough to meet these (still changing) needs? Please email us (enquiry@teli.hku.hk) with your ideas.

On July 23, TELI joined MBBS Year 5 students for an orientation to Medical Humanities. We’ve launched an e-portfolio system for their reflection writing exercise in the coming two years of clerkship.


  • Ahn, J. (2004). Electronic portfolios: Blending technology, accountability & assessment. T H E Journal. 31 (9).
  • Barrett, H. (2004). Electronic portfolios as digital stories of deep learning. Retrieved on 7/18/16 from: http://electronicportfolios.org/digistory/epstory.html
  • Buzzetto-More, N. (2010) Assessing the Efficacy and Effectiveness of an E-Portfolio used for summative assessment. Interdisciplinary journal of e-learning and learning objects, 6, 61-85.
  • Lopez-Fernandez, O., & Rodriguez-Illera, J. L. (January 01, 2009). Investigating university students’ adaptation to a digital learner course portfolio. Computers & Education, 52, 3, 608-616.
  • Lorenzo, G. & Ittelson, J. (2005a). An overview of e-portfolios. Educase Learning Initiative, 1-27.
  • Lorenzo, G., & Ittelson, J. (2005b). Demonstrating and assessing student learning with e-portfolios . Educause Learning Initiative Paper 3: 2005.
  • Watson, C. E., & Doolittle, P. E. (2011). ePortfolio pedagogy, technology, and scholarship: Now and in the future. Educational Technology, 51(5), 29-33.
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As the curriculum broadened in scope and depth, more and more teachers are interested in developing meaningful and effective ways of documenting, monitoring and evaluating student achievements through ePortfolios. That’s why Professor Gavin Brown (Faculty of Education and Social Work, University of Auckland) and Dr. Tanja Sobko (Faculty of Science, HKU) received a full-house attendance at their seminar “Assessing with ePortfolios” on July 8, 2016.


Professor Brown introduced ePortfolio as a ‘systematic, purposeful and chronological collection of student work’ which empowers students to continuously learn through critical thinking and reflection. There are several aspects to facilitate the use of ePortfolios.

  • First, students need to understand the importance of reflection and self-monitored learning. A timely and continuous progress is the key – work must start early for students to curate and build the ePortfolio. Willingness to reveal different stages of work justifies improvements and connections to learning outcomes.
  • Second, for teachers, having a well-designed rubric and cross-references will lead to good assessment. Alternatively, an ePortfolio can be developed as a non-assessed dialogue with students – but some incentives or motivation will be necessary.
  • Third, be flexible about the platform for ePortfolio. Professor Brown believes that current market options have similar technology. It is not necessary to be too restrictive.


An example in HKU

In the second part of the seminar, Dr. Sobko shared her ePortfolio experience in a BSc Exercise and Health course with 30 students. She aimed to promote eHealth Literacy 1 via the combined use of wearable device ‘Mi band’ and ePortfolio. Students wore the tracker device to record their daily activity levels (e.g., walking distance, hours of deep sleep) electronically, and wrote regular reflections during the process.


It was found that students became more aware of their personal health, and incorporated more scientific references in their reflection writing as the weeks passed. Key words to describe content quality of ePortfolio evolved from ‘interesting’, ‘personal’ at the beginning to ‘reflective’, ‘evidence-based’, ‘organized’ at the end of the course.

Dr. Sobko particularly saw the added value of the data collected in helping to ‘track, support and explore development of new literacies in eHealth literacy.’

TELI is now working closely with teachers on a few pilot projects to understand the features that they’d like to see in ePortfolios. If you’d like to collaborate, please get in touch via enquiry@teli.hku.hk.

Download the presentations here:
Prof Brown’s presentation
Dr. Sobko’s presentation

Summary of workshop details here.

1 The ability to seek, find and understand health information from e-sources, and apply that knowledge to solve personal health problems.


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