Putting the 'e' in portfolio design: an intervention research project investigating how design students and faculty might jointly reimagine the design portfolio activity
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The use of portfolios is deeply embedded in practice within Design education. However, as trends change and technology improves, tensions often arise in the interpretation and presentation of the portfolio activity. Additionally, as more and more digital artefacts are produced by design students, the question arises as to whether the traditional portfolio could be accompanied or replaced by an eportfolio, which could present students’ digital artefacts in a structured fashion. This research investigates how students and faculty in the Design Department of one higher education institution might come together to examine and re-model practices in the context of the design portfolio activity. The study uses Cultural Historical Activity Theory with a Change Laboratory methodology and expansive learning to build transformative agency amongst those involved in the design portfolio activity, with a view to reaching consensus of what a future model of the design eportfolio might look like. Findings indicate that the methodology was successful in collaboratively examining work practices and exposing tensions relating to the current portfolio activity. A tentative future model of a design eportfolio was presented to the group, using institute graduate attributes to provide structure. While the lack of a designer’s ‘personality’ when using a generic eportfolio tool was pointed out, it was agreed that having student work available and accessible in a structured digital format was a requirement for today’s design graduate. Finally, this research approach is considered useful for educational research projects that require collaborative input from various stakeholders into changes in work practices.
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