Technological advances in recent years have encouraged many distance education programs to explore unique and innovative ways to collect and assess student work. In addition, many programs and accrediting bodies are seeking to expand and demonstrate student’s technical competencies. The Doctorate of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision (DPCES) program at Regent University desired one tool that could accomplish each of these goals while also assisting the 58 enrolled students to document their learning and display their skills after completing their program. An online ePortfolio was identified as the ideal instrument to accomplish all of these aims. However, due to the nature of distance education, it was impossible to explain and support student online ePortfolio creation without establishing some type of access and support environment. This article, therefore, describes ePortfolios and the online resources and programs that were created to facilitate their integration into the Counselor Education and Supervision doctoral program at Regent University.

What is a Portfolio and ePortfolio?


            Traditional portfolios have been defined in various ways by educators but they primarily consist of a platform for demonstrating students’ work, progression, and accomplishments in one or more areas. Portfolios are purposeful collections of student work that exhibit the student's efforts, progress, and achievements. The collection must include student participation in selecting contents, the criteria for selection, the criteria for judging merit, and evidence of student self-reflection (Paulson, Paulson, & Meyer, 1991). Developing the criteria for which work to include and exclude in the portfolio engages the students in self-reflective processes (Barrett, 2001).  Electronic portfolios or ePortfolios are a simple translation of the portfolio to a different platform.


            The use of electronic portfolios (ePortfolios) in the current electronic format is not very different from the traditional paper and binder portfolios of the 1970s, 80s, and early 90s (Walker, 2004). The ePortfolio differs from the traditional portfolio concept in that it exists in an electronic medium instead of in the traditional physical platform usually consisting of pen and paper.  ePortfolios differ from traditional portfolios in that student work is collected, saved, and stored in an electronic format rather than the traditional binders and folders of the past. ePortfolios do have significant advantages over traditional paper portfolios. Their compact size and ease of accessibility make them a better choice.  In addition, with ePortfolios students are able to use multimedia technology to revise, edit, and refine portfolio items (Walker, 2004). The goals are the same in that the ePortfolio is a platform that should demonstrate an individual’s efforts, advancement, and accomplishments in one or more areas (Weidmer, 1998).  The ePortfolio, therefore, at its simplest level is a technological tool which demonstrates a student’s skills and abilities overtime.  Such a tool can be located on various electronic platforms depending on the software used to construct it including a computer hard drive, a cd-rom, or an online website. ePortfolios built with webpage software actually move well beyond this definition since their software platform allows their placement on the worldwide web making them available to anyone in the world in a moments notice. The ePortfolio then becomes a platform not only to demonstrate learning and skill but one that can market and tell the student’s story to the world. This availability was one of the goals of the ePortfolio for our program. 


            Another advantage of an ePortfolio is that it can house a wide variety of computer generated technologies which students might use in their programs. It is not simply limited to text or paper media but allows for the collection and dissemination of student’s achievements in all forms of computer media and technology including scholarly papers in text files, short video files, audio files, PowerPoint presentations, and other types of electronic media as needed or developed. This diversity allows students to present a fuller picture of their abilities and achievements than text alone. In addition to the technical learning a student will accomplish, the development of the ePortfolio follows the course of the students’ academic progression which allows students to continually integrate their new learning, creations, and skills as they advance.


            Although ePortfolios are utilized for employment by many school counseling programs, their acceptance and use in community counseling practice and with counselor educators appears very limited (Lewis, Coursol, & Herting-Wahl, 2000). The Doctoral Program in Counselor Education and Supervision (DPCES) at Regent University considered that student development of an ePortfolio would demonstrate an individual’s competencies beyond his or her attitude toward and skill with technology. The ePortfolio could be used by the student to organize and collect their work; document their program learning; and to demonstrate their academic abilities, practical skills, and counseling competencies required for licensure (Baltimore, 1996; Carney & Cobia, 1996; Lewis et al, 2000). In addition, an ePortfolio would equip and empower students with a tool to communicate these things to future employers and if desired to the world. Encouragingly, several recent graduates have been submitting their ePortfolios to employers and have also used them as the foundation of their professional websites.  Not surprisingly, this real world use of the ePortfolio has correlated with our programs increased commitment of time, resources, and support for the students’ development of their ePortfolios.


            The DPCES approach to ePortfolio creation is integrative and developmental in nature providing students with the time, assets, and encouragement necessary to successfully build their ePortfolios. The students are introduced to the ePortfolio concept even before they start the program as it is discussed during the application process. Most students have limited experience with this type of computer technology but what they must have is a willingness and desire to learn. Once in the program, each required element of the ePortfolio is integrated into one of the student’s courses and the construction of the ePortfolio, therefore, takes place over the entire length of the program.  For the student, the culmination of their ePortfolio experience is when they use it as the platform to engage in their oral comprehensive exams. The student’s technological competencies and skills with the ePortfolio are usually developed overtime through individual trial and error along with supervised prodding and correction.  Our program acknowledges this learning curve and provides both continual online training and specific instruction as each required task is attempted.

Example eportfolio link:


ePortfolio Online Support and Resources


            The first step in making the ePortfolio a requirement for the students in the online DPCES program was that all the training and resources students needed to create and maintain the ePortfolios had to be available online. Since students in the program live throughout the United States and internationally; online access to all training, examples, and developmental was crucial to student success. The program has its’ own Web Developer and Instructional Designer who provided the in house knowledge and support needed to make this online resource center a reality. The web developer and instructional designer decided that the program needed an online resource center, which could provide specific technical assistance, training, and secure storage of the students’ ePortfolios.  The website would need to provide all of the assets required by students to create, maintain, and store their ePortfolios while also providing program faculty with access to student ePortfolios for review.  The unique strategies developed to meet these goals included; the selection of a common web-development software program (Dreamweaver), the creation of an web-based information resource center for students which provided assistance to students in learning about and creating their ePortfolios (SPC ePortfolios); and the construction of a secure storage location and the safe transfer of student work which would provide easy but limited access to both students and faculty (A secure server and the use of Secure Sockets Layer).


Student Introduction to ePortfolios


            Initial training in ePortfolio development was facilitated by the cohort structure of the DPCES program. The cohort model requires each entering class to progress through the program together starting with attendance at an 11 day on-site residency at the traditional campus in Virginia Beach. This 11 day period provides the opportunity to present students with a live overview of ePortfolios including a brief demonstration of the program’s online ePortfolio resources.  This overview is provided by the program web specialist and introduces the students to, the School of Psychology and Counseling (SPC) Portfolios website, the optional ePortfolio templates, and the ePortfolio system storage utility.


            When creating the ePortfolios the design is not the most important goal of the assignment. Students are expected to create a functional web-based ePortfolio with program required elements, which are listed on the SPC ePortfolio website. It is anticipated that a portion of the students will have had some experience with website creation, but we know that many will not. Therefore, the program does not require or expect an ePortfolio of professional web designer quality but it does expect that they will contain all required elements and present them in an organized and professional manner. This means that student ePortfolios must be more than a Word document with hyperlinks. The technical requirements of the assignment are meant to encourage student exploration of and experience with new technologies. Some basic technical requirements include ePortfolio development on the Dreamweaver software, inclusion of operational hyperlinks, the use of images, PowerPoints, and videos. To assist students with the design of their ePortfolios, students can use the templates available on the SPCePortfolio website or they may use templates available through Dreamweaver or on the Internet for the design features.


            Students receive their Dreamweaver software at their first residency and are provided with a introductory training session on the ePortfolio requirements, the use of the software, and accessible online resources. Starting in the summer of 2007, students who desire more in depth training can participate in an optional full day of instruction. This day of education will be provided at the end of their residency and will focus specifically upon using Dreamweaver to create their web-based ePortfolios. Currently all students receive the introductory training session and have access to video and text–based tutorials available on the SPC ePortfolio website. In addition, they also have access to the SPC web specialist who can assist them with specific technical questions.


SPC ePortfolio Resource Website


            The SPC ePortfolio website is an extensive on-line resource for students created by the Web Developer and Instructional Designer, who serves as the ePortfolio Expert and Administrator. The website includes links to several resources created for the students. There is a short introduction to ePortfolios and their history and evolution out of traditional paper and media portfolios. A concise ePortfolio tutorial which explains the steps and parameters involved in creating an ePortfolio. There is an ePortfolio checklist which details the specific ePortfolio requirements of the DPCES program and numerous links to a large collection of tutorials and resources. The site also includes example student, faculty, and staff portfolios and ePortfolio creation lectures.  Access is provided to a continual discussion forum allowing for review of student’s past questions and the corresponding answers. The site also provides a link for students and faculty to login to the ePortfolio storage area to access user ePortfolios. In addition, interactive tutorials and simulations are continually being added to the site.


ePortfolio Technical Assistance

            To provide ePortfolio creation and technical assistance, lectures and workshops are presented to the university throughout the school year. Specific workshops for the DPCES program are presented during the annual doctoral residency. University workshops presented at the Virginia Beach campus, are often made available to distance students through links to presentations on the resource SPC website Lectures and workshops are taped and converted to Accordent, which provides access to both the lecture video and the corresponding PowerPoint slides. The software allows students to watch the entire presentation or to click on a specific slide or topic to view that specific portion of the lecture. Students can access these lectures and workshops from the Regent streaming server link on the website’s ePortfolio lectures and workshops page:


ePortfolio Template


            To simplify the ePortfolio development process for students, to ensure technical support would be available, and to limit the resource knowledge base needed by faculty, one web page development software program was chosen for all ePortfolios. Several software programs are available to construct web pages, but a primary concern was to use a software program that would easily create web pages, meet current web standards, allow for the maintaining of the entire website building process, and ensure knowledgeable technical assistance would be available to students.  Adobe’s web development software Dreamweaver met these goals and therefore it was chosen as the software that all students were required to purchase and use. One software program also facilitated the development of an optional ePortfolio template. This template provides a simple ePortfolio framework that allows students to begin to build their portfolio content immediately. Over time, as the students learn to use the software, they can expand and reconfigure their ePortfolios to better express their creativity and to more effectively communicate their objectives. Eventually, as the ePortfolio takes shape the student may choose to place his or her eportfolio or a modified version of it on the worldwide web as their personal or professional webpage. 


ePortfolio Storage

            ePortfolios often contain confidential student information, therefore, restricted assess to ePortfolios had to be established to ensure the contents remained private.  The University IT department was helpful in developing this type of limited access storage facility.  The university reserved Web server space for the ePortfolios on their servers and working with the DPCES program’s web developer and faculty they facilitated the establishment of a simple but secure location for the portfolios and the ability to create a secure network connection. 


            The ePortfolio system implemented by the program was basically a website with limited access. Each student is given a dedicated directory on the server reserved solely for his or her ePortfolio development. A student’s unique user name and password allows them access to their directory and provides the ability to create, view, or update their ePortfolio. Students can only access their own ePortfolios while the program faculty have a different level of access which enables them to view all student ePortfolios. In addition, the ePortfolio administrator has access to any student ePortfolio in order to provide technical assistance. The URL for accessing this ePortfolio directory web page is:


            The storage solution chosen allows faculty and the web specialist to regularly access student portfolios during the creation process. Faculty can provide feedback to students and the web specialist can assist students by directly accessing their website files. With a storage solution, faculty encouragement, and hands-on technical assistance, 32 students have built professional ePortfolios including three students that began the doctorate program this past summer.


Adding a Network Place for easy student ePortfolio access


            This type of system makes it easy for students to update their ePortfolio content from their home computer. They simply create a connection from the PC to their unique directory on the ePortfolio server. In Window 2000/XP, students add the page as a Network Place and when activated it allows the user to simply drag-and-drop or cut-and-paste files from their PC to their ePortfolio website. The files are transferred from their PC over the web to their ePortfolio directory by a secure server running on Secure Sockets Layer. Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), which is often seen on websites requesting personal information, is an Internet protocol. SSL is supported by all major browsers and uses a cryptographic system to encrypt data during transit to ensure confidential information is not accessible while being transferred over the Internet.  This technology allows students with a PC and an Internet connection to securely create and manage their ePortfolios from anywhere in the world. 



            Effectively integrating technology into counseling requires two commitments. One commitment is to the integration of technology into the classroom, supervision, and practice. The second, which is easily overlooked, is an equal commitment to the development of resources necessary to support and enhance student learning and application. Platforms and programs such as web pages design software, easy to get to web pages, secure delivery systems and online technical training and support all play a role in empowering students for academic and eventual occupational success. Following through on both commitments by delivering online resources, providing secure worldwide storage and access and providing platforms for counselor online promotion demonstrate the usefulness of technology to engage students in their own learning and to connect individuals to the world. 




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 Lewis, J., Coursol, D., & Herting-Wahl, K. (2000).  Electronic Portfolios in Counselor Education. In J. W. Bloom and G. R. Walz (Eds.), Cybercounseling and Cyberlearning: Strategies and Resources for the Millennium, (pp. 171-181). Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association.

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Author's Biography

Victoria Walker and Mark Rehfuss, PhD, Associate Professor, Regent University, Virginia Beach, Virginia &  Agatha Parks-Savage, EdD,LPC,RN,  Assistant Professor, Doctoral Program in Counselor Education and Supervision Regent University Virginia Beach, Virginia Email:



         The on-line Doctorate of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision (DPCES) program at Regent University decided to incorporate an ePortfolio technology component into the program curriculum. Due to the online nature of the program, all resources involved in the development and completion of student ePortfolios had to be available on the web, including all training, resource materials, secure storage, and technical assistance. Using several newer technologies, the program has been able to achieve these goals. This article overviews ePortfolios and highlights the in-house technical design and development which provided the support necessary to integrate the student ePortfolio requirement into the DPCES program. 

Last Updated: 6/20/12