Jisc case studies wiki Case studies / Transformations University of Glamorgan
  • If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.


Transformations University of Glamorgan

Project Name: Glamorgan ePortfolios

Lead Institution: University of Glamorgan (now University of South Wales)

Project Lead: Catherine Naamani


The Glamorgan ePortfolios project aimed to explore the feasiblity of using an e-portfolio (Campus Pack) to enhance students' employability skills. The project linked with the University's Grad Edge strategy, which encourages students to undertake and reflect on a wide range of work-related activities to improve their chances of gaining graduate employment and also aligns with the HEAR, which the University plans to rollout to all students in the next year. The project involved a wide range of stakeholders, including employers, student representation as well as academic and support staff and adopted a variety of mechanisms to trial and gain feedback on e-portfolios; these included focus groups and employer led workshops. The project outcomes indicate that staff, students and employers view e-portfolios as beneficial in terms of improving employability and this will continue to be promoted in the future.


See the full Transformations programme playlist



According to the information provided in 2011/12 on graduate employment rate, an average of 61% of Glamorgan graduates were employed with a graduate level job (http://unistats.direct.gov.uk - Accessed 02/02/12).  This ranges from 100% in graduates in subjects allied to Medicine, to just 10% in Psychology graduates. In response to these statistics and the current economic climate, the University initiated an institution-wide strategy, called Grad Edge, to enhance graduate employability ,(http://glamedge.glam.ac.uk/passport/  - Accessed 15/02/12). In 2010/11, the University piloted its Grad Edge Passport to Employability and the Grad Edge Certificate to students in the former Glamorgan Business School and in the Faculty of Advanced Technology. Since September 2011, both the Passport and the Certificate have been available to all students. Currently, students record all activity using a booklet and a paper-based form. The aim of these two initiatives is to promote the benefit of work-placements and work-related experience to undergraduates; they also encourage students to reflect on their experience and build up a range of skills recognised by employers.


The project was managed by the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) who work with faculties and departments across the University of South Wales to enhance learning, teaching and widening access to deliver improved performance leading to excellence in achievement for students, prospective students and graduates (http://celt.southwales.ac.uk/media/files/documents/2013-05-22/CELT_vision_-_May_2013.pdf - Accessed 31/07/13). More specifically CELT works with faculties and departments to embed Technology Enhanced Learning and in the quality assurance of Grad Edge. 


Aims and objectives


The University has been using Campus Pack as a tool for Blogs and Wikis for a number of years. The aim of this project was to pilot the e-portfolio tool within Campus Pack as a way of tracking student participation in work-related activities, of managing, and where appropriate, accrediting the evidence provided and to support reflective practice. It therefore enhanced the University’s Grad Edge strategy by providing a mechanism for students to use an online environment to record evidence relating to work-related activity; this could take the form of a reflective account of a work-placement for example, employer endorsements and comments and feedback from lecturers and/or careers staff. This in turn would inform the evidence a student might gather to be eligible for either their Grad Edge Passport or Certificate. The project also had clear links with the HEAR.




In the current economic climate, it has become increasingly important to ensure that our students are fully prepared for graduate level jobs when they finish at University. The University of Glamorgan (now the University of South Wales) includes this in its strategic vision (http://www.southwales.ac.uk/about/vision-and-mission/ accessed 20/07/13) and is actively supporting students to gain the relevant employability skills through Grad Edge by promoting an employment-focused education be that within the curriculum and/or through a wide range of other work-related opportunities. The project supports the University's vision in this context by promoting contact with employers and encouraging students to use their e-portfolio to reflect on the skills and experience they build throughout their time at University. 


The business case


The University recognises the importance of encouraging students to undertake work-experience and work related activity as a way of improving their prospects of finding a graduate level job. By developing an e-portfolio, accessible to all students, we are providing a tool which will enable students to record, reflect on and actively promote the wide range of skills they develop during their time at university. The fact that the portfolio is available online ensures that is can be shared quickly and easily with lecturers and potential employers and minimises the need for paper copies. Employer involvement in the project has ensured that the information provided to students about the benefits of developing an e-portfolio is current and reliable, whilst also reinforcing employer links.


Key drivers 


Employability and the improvement of graduate employment rate - the need to equip our students with the skills to improve their prospects of finding graduate level employment is of increasing importance and is an important part of the University's strategic vision and underpins the aims of the project.


HEAR - The Higher Education Achievement Report with its focus on recognising a wider range of activities and achievements than simply a degree transcript clearly links to the aims of the e-portfolio project in terms of encouraging students to record and reflect not only on their academic achievements, but also on extra-curricular activities and work-related experience. It is hoped that we will be able to use the e-portfolio as a way whereby students can demonstrate how they meet the requirements of HEAR. 


Innovation in the use of technology to support learning & teaching - E-portfolios as tools for recording Personal Development Planning (PDP) have been around for some time. Increasingly however, employers are turning to e-recruitment methods to identify potential employees. It is important therefore, that the use of e-portfolios is embedded across the University so that students have access to the most appropriate technology as they enter the job market.


Students as partners -  The University firmly believes that we should work closely with students in all activities and CELT collaborates with the Student Unions at the University and RWCMD to

ensure that the students work as partners with the institution in curriculum, learning, teaching and assessment development.


Increasing the potential for active learning within a virtual environment - The project team felt that it was important that the e-portfolio should be a tool owned and populated by students. In this way, students would take a more active approach to their learningsharing content with lecturers and employers to gain feedback. Campus Pack is fully integrated into Blackboard and will also be integrated with Moodle, the VLE currently used by the former University of Wales, Newport.


The use of reflection within the workplace/professional role - The e-portfolio is an ideal tool for students to gain feedback on and reflect on skills they develop while undertaking work-related activities. This view is supported by the employers who were involved in the project.


“I was delighted to be asked to participate in the e-portfolio workshops. As a health and social care employer I feel it is crucial to evidence CPD and the e-portfolio is a great canvass to do this. I feel that it gives the students a focus and enables them to record their journey over the course of their studies. It also is an excellent tool for reflection  ” (Kirsty Knowles, New Directions, Social Care Recruitment) 


The image below is taken from an e-portfolio designed by an employer from the Health & Social Care Sector and includes the sort of information that might be included by a student reflecting on work experience undertaken: 




Lifelong learning - The ability to retain access to the e-portfolio once students graduate is an important aspect of the project, thus supporting lifelong learning. 


Presentational function of the e-portfolio - The development of a template to support students in achieving the objectives of Grad Edge and the HEAR by being able to record and reflect relevant work-related and extra-curricular activities in a consistent manner. 


JISC resources/technology used


In order to evaluate the JISC resources that had been identified as potentially relevant to the project, a working group was set up with representation from across the University. Academic staff, staff from Careers, IT support, HR and CELT, were included in the group, together with Student Union representation. This approach proved to be effective not only in terms of sharing the load, but also to provide a variety of perspectives when evaluating the resources. The group met together just twice to gain an overview of the JISC resources and each group member was then tasked with writing up a brief evaluation which was based on the JISC project evaluation template (see Appendix). The evaluations asked the following questions based on the template:


  • How will this (JISC) resource enable us to deal with the current issues/problems facing employability and/or digital literacy?
  • Which of our stakeholders will be affected by using this resource?
  • How will this resource enable us to develop or record either qualitative or quantitative indicators of change?
  • What benefits will this resource allow us to gain as a result of the project?
  • How does our current e-portfolio use compare with that outlined in this resource?


We evaluated the following JISC tools/resources:


The e-Portfolio Toolkit


This was one of the most useful resources we reviewed for the project as it provides easily accessible case studies of e-portfolio implementation in a wide range of contexts. One of the key aims of our project was to explore how e-portfolios could enhance students chances of finding a job, and the links to employability, for example the Case Study by Southampton Solent,  were especially valuable and highlighted the importance of involving Careers staff when implementing the use of e-portfolios for this purpose. However, the Case Studies make less obvious links to digital literacy, other than where there are links to lifelong learning as the Case Study from Wolverhampton illustrates.


Our evaluation of this resource also raised some key questions and consideration about how we were using e-portfolios:


  • Is Campus Pack the most appropriate tool for our needs? - The Case Studies appear to show that Mahara and PebblePad seem to be used with better effect at other institutions and one of the outcomes of the project will be to review Campus Pack for this purpose;
  • To what extent have we considered the role of Careers in embedding e-portfolio use? - To achieve this, we will continue to develop links with the Grad Edge initiative.
  • How do different staff and students view the e-portfolio as enhancing employability? In order to be fully sustainable, it will be important to promote a shared understanding of what an e-portfolio is and how it can benefit students in terms of reflective practice and developing employability skills.


E-portfolios Exemplars & Effective Practice with e-portfolios


We evaluated these two resources in tandem with the e-Portfolio toolkit and while they raised the same questions and considerations as the toolkit, they provided additional relevant examples of e-portfolio implementation which were of particular relevance. The exemplars that were most relevant were:


Advanced Competency Based Learning in Clinical Practice (University of Bradford), largely because of the close affinity with the work of our Nursing staff and students.

ePortfolio to facilitate reflection on a regular basis over an academic year (Massey University) - this provided some excellent tips on how e-Portfolios can be used for developing reflective practice


Southampton Solent University - collation of employability skills - this resource was of clear relevance to the aims of the project and enabled us to share examples of how an e-portfolio might be used to enhance employability.


Lifelong Learning and Workforce Development


We evaluated the review which focuses on e-portfolios. The review provides easily accessible examples of e-portfolios being used to support Lifelong Learning and Workforce Development using a variety of tools, including, Campus pack, Mahara and MyShowcase. This resource provides a good overview of different systems and how they were implemented and more options on developing a low-cost, light weight e-portfolio system which we could consider as alternatives. This resource will be of greater relevance when we review the tools currently used at the University of South Wales.


Responding to Learners Pack


Upon evaluation, it was felt that this resource would not contribute much towards enhancing employability, but might help us consider the different levels of digital literacy of the student demographic, and the degree of significance of digital literacy as a factor in/barrier to engagement. The resource might be useful to a wide range of stakeholder including Institutional managers, Practitioners, Course teams, Learning developers, learning support staff and Researchers as it is fundamentally a guide to how institutions can better respond to learners’ expectations and uses of technology, offering practical guidance on how to embed the learners’ voice more effectively into institutional processes and practice. The resource was of limited relevance to the project but might be beneficial when considering how to cater for students' broad variation of expectations, interest, needs, etc in relation to technology use, but is not specific to e-portfolio implementation.


JISC InfoNet Impact Calculator


The Impact Calculator (IC) is designed to enable organisations to measure impact of change of initiatives to improve the management of records or business processes so is not really related to employability; If changes were suggested to current record management (i.e. Quercus or perhaps the HEAR) then this could be a valuable tool as it is something that could be useful if we were making big changes rather than small scale ones. The IC helps record both qualitative and quantitative indicators as it enables you to identify the cost of changes, the impact of those changes and therefore calculate whether the investment in the change was worthwhile. It was of little relevance to the project and was therefore not used.


HEAR Self Assessment Framework


Upon evaluation, this resource identified potential issues that will need to be overcome in order to deliver the HEAR, but was of little relevance to how this might be linked with e-portfolio implementation other than as a tool for the collection of information in section 6.1 of the HEAR.


WBL Maturity Toolkit


HE/FE Institutions can use the Work-based Learning Maturity Toolkit to assess their current performance in work-based learning, identify a vision for work-based learning, identify the "enablers" and "barriers" to achieving the vision and develop recommendations for actions and change management. The tool is of relevance in a number of contexts as indicated below:


  • It could be used by any academics who wish to give credit for work based learning or who wish to develop new programmes incorporating work based learning.
  • It may be useful to students wishing to demonstrate learning within their e-portfolio However, it is more geared up to focus upon working with an employer to develop work based learning, rather than to give credit for any kind of prior learning (e.g The tool enables the user to identify methods for gathering evidence and gives guidance on how to do this.)
  • The University's Partnership Panel might recommend the tool to employers and partners in the assessment and development of work based learning.
  • It is of interest to the University's Learning though Employment team and any courses/programmes which have placements or work based elements.
  • The tool enables the user to identify methods for gathering evidence and gives guidance on how to do this and incorporates the development of action plans and offers guidance on how to define measures of success, therefore supporting APEL and APCL.


This toolkit would probably be used before the e-portfolio was used as the e-portfolio would be used to ‘store’ the information/evidence of learning that was gained through the work based learning. However the tool might give academics the opportunity to think about and incorporate work based learning into their programmes more easily and hence into the student’s e-portfolio.


An e-Portfolio based Pedagogy for SMEs (ePPSME)


This resource was identified as having some relevance because of the link to SMEs and to staff and students involved in Work-Based learning, but in terms of the project, learners are not undertaking Work Based Learning so experiences will differ. This project uses PebblePad as an e-portfolio and will be of interest when the University undertakes a review of Learning Systems, including e-portfolios.


Interactive Work-based learning Environment (IWoBLe)


This is a useful reference resource as the project has very similar aims and objectives as the Glamorgan E-Portfolios project, particularly in relation to supporting employability


Shared Architecture for employer, student & organisational networking (SAMSON)


This resource provides an example of the technical infrastructure needed to support e-portfolio implementation and may help with reviewing the infrastructure supporting Grad Edge as although Campus Pack is integrated with Blackboard, there is no integration with other tools and systems linked to Grad Edge.


Workforce engagement in lifelong learning (WELL)


This resource was of some interest in relation to developing digital literacy amongst learners undertaking Work-Based Learning /Learning in Employment and might be useful to employers and staff supporting these students, for example, students on placement or nursing students. This project also uses Pebblepad and will be a useful point of reference when we start to review our e-portfolio tool.




CPD Eng is a very comprehensive e-portfolio tool for recording IPD and CPD activity that can be viewed by learners, tutors, employers and professional bodies and as such it is worth a more detailed look if we wanted to make our current tool more sophisticated after the pilot phase is complete. Because it is accessible by all stakeholders, it would be possible to conduct longitudinal attitude studies based on the way stakeholders view and use the tool thereby informing our own practice and by providing a kind of gold-standard to aspire to.


Technology-enhanced Learning to support a Welsh Centre for Workforce Development : TEL-WFD


This resource was of direct relevance, providing good examples of encouraging reflective practice for learners on placement and for staff and students involved in work-placements. The outcomes of this project have provided a helpful benchmark in evaluating our project - it uses the same tool as Glamorgan e-Portfolios (Campus Pack) and provides a helpful example of how to engage staff and students in using an e-portfolio to support reflective practice.




  •  The creation of a template available to all students and which is designed as a guide to help students reflect on the whole of their experience while at University and which they can share with peers, lecturers, careers advisors and employers. The template includes areas for providing a personal introduction, information and reflection on professional, personal and academic development, career planning and links to Grad Edge. Students are also able to add a variety of media, such as images and videos to enhance their profiles. The template we developed was structured into 6 sections (Home Page, Professional Development, Personal Development, Academic Development, Future Ambitions, Glam Edge)  for students to record and reflect on different aspects of their studies. With the exception of the introductory page, each page was left almost entirely blank to encourage students to populate and personalise their own e-portfolio.



  • A series of training guides on how to use the e-portfolio tool via Blackboard; a guide was also developed for use by employers providing workshops on using e-portfolios (see Appendix) 
  • Presentations by employers from a variety of sectors on how to create an industry specific e-portfolio; examples of these are available on the project blog 
  • Conference Presentation at ALT-C, 2013 'E-portfolios and Employability: Building Learning Cultures for Life' 
  • Links to e-portfolio from the Grad Edge Organisation in Blackboard and from Glamlife, the student portal. 
  • CELT seminar on e-portfolios: What happened to the e-portfolio? The story of its evolving use at the University of Reading




Employer Engagement


A key aim of the project has been to engage with employers to raise awareness of the benefits of using e-portfolios to improve employability. We used a variety of ways to identify interested employers, including, attendance at Careers Fairs, working with the Careers Service in the University, linking with the University's Commercial Services arm, as well as through personal contacts. This resulted in employers engagement from a variety of sectors - Business, Education, Health & Social Care, Nursing, Film Production and Music Technology. Employers provided input through attendance at the Operational Group, to provide feedback and input on the development of the e-portfolio template and through the organisation of sector specific workshops. Slides from the workshops can be viewed via the project blog http://glamorganeportfolios.wordpress.com/2013/04/05/employer-involvement/ and student summaries are included in the Appendix below. Feedback from employers regarding the project has been very positive and they have welcomed the opportunity to engage directly with students to help them improve their employability prospects in a way that is tailored to a particular industry. Employer engagement is also seen as important by students, who indicate that they would be more likely to use an e-portfolio if they are able to share it with an interested employer.


               "I found the workshop with Jo really beneficial, being able to ask questions on how employers recruit and how to present yourself. How to  tailor your  CV and e-portfolio was great too. By

               running workshops I think employers can communicate what they are looking for and will receive better quality applications as a result." (Barry O'Connell, student) 


Cross-departmental Working


The project has also been particularly successful in promoting cross-departmental working. The Operational Group included academic representation from each of the Faculties, Careers, the Student Union, HR, IT Services as well as CELT. This has ensured that the project has benefited from a range of perspectives and needs, which in turn will inform how the e-portfolio develops in the future. Additionally, this approach has ensured that all departments are aware of the need to promote the use of the e-portfolio to enhance employability.


Student Involvement


We successfully engaged with students at all stages of the project, from the design of the template, to representation on both the Project Steering Group and Operational Group and input into the project video story. We ran a number of focus groups and employer workshops all with students and the feedback gathered will inform how we roll-out the e-portfolio across all the University. The involvement of students in developing and promoting the e-portfolio has been both exciting and insightful. The student focus groups which were organised in January proved to be a source of invaluable information and ideas about students' views on the effectiveness of e-portfolios, the extent of their use, the type of content students from different disciplines might include and how the University might improve the way it promotes e-portfolios to improve students prospects of finding graduate employment. The key points made by students include:


  • Information about e-portfolios should be made available to students at Induction and more importantly, this should be reinforced at regular intervals through the year.
  • E-portfolios are most effective where students use them from Year 1
  • E-portfolios need to be flexible and support the needs of all students
  • Students need to be able to take their e-portfolio with them once they have graduated
  • E-portfolios shouldn't be linked just to assessment
  • Students should be able to share their e-portfolio with lecturers, careers advisors and potential employers
  • The tool needs to be easy to use.


During the course of the project, 50 students accessed the e-Portfolio. Without access to individual students' e-portfolios it has not been possible to evaluate how they are being used, but feedback indicates that students are positive about the potential of e-portfolios to enhance employability, but are often unclear as how this can be achieved, particularly where use has been limited to a single piece of assessment for a given module as exemplified by the feedback from one group of students below:






There have been a number of benefits associated with the project which will help inform the way in which the use of e-portfolios is promoted and supported across the University in the future. These are:


  • Active engagement with different groups of students and employers from a variety of sectors has led to a greater understanding of how e-portfolios can improve employability, so that they don't just become tools for assessment and repositories for text-based documents, but online environments for reflection and development which will enable students to present themselves more individually to the industry in which they hope to work. 
  • The involvement of staff from across the University means that it has been possible to gain different perspectives and ideas on a range of approaches that can be used to promote the use of e-portfolios by both staff and students. 
  • The recognition that students can use their e-portfolio to develop reflective skills, as well as using their e-portfolio as a means of recording and sharing relevant work-related or academic experience. 
  • By deliberately leaving the template almost entirely blank, students are encouraged to take a more active approach to their learning and in so doing are also more likely to develop greater autonomy. 
  • Close alignment with the University's Grad Edge strategy means that the project will be more easily sustainable. Grad Edge promotes the need for students to reflect on work-related activity in order to develop skills and behaviours ready for the workplace and the project has highlighted how an e-portfolio can help students achieve this. The use of an online tool also reduces the reliance on multiple paper copies of documents and e-mails as students are able to share their evidence and reflections with lecturers and careers staff who in turn, are able to provide feedback using the e-portfolio tool.




Many students are comfortable with using technology and have little difficulty in understanding how to access the e-portfolio. However, reliance on this tool places students who do not wish to or who find it difficult to use the developing technology potentially at a disadvantage; e-portfolios offer greater flexibility than paper-based ones, can be shared easily for feedback and can be enhanced by the use of media for example. More pertinently, employers are increasingly using technology as a means for recruitment.


The University teaches a wide range of subjects, from Astronomy to Nursing and the skills that students develop and need to promote to potential employers are very different. A Business Studies student might need to present a very different profile to a student studying fashion design for example. As such, it is apparent that while many students responded positively to the tool and the template, others found it too restrictive and were often creating their own portfolio using a variety of different freely available resources such as Tumblr, Flickr, YouTube, WordPress, amongst others. This is particularly the case for students wishing to work in the Creative Industries, where it is becoming imperative for students to be able to showcase their work online in a way that it easily accessible and highly visible.


The initial aim of integrating the e-portfolio with tools for HEAR and Grad Edge has not been not achieved. The University's aim to roll out the HEAR to all students will be achieved in 12-18 months and it has not been possible to identify funding to develop full integration between the e-portfolio, Grad Edge and the HEAR.


While the Operational Group reached a consensus over what the e-Portfolio tool might be used for in relation to students being able to reflect on a wide range of skills and knowledge gained during their university career, anecdotal evidence from informal discussions with staff indicates that many academic staff only view it as a tool for assessment purposes. In order to ensure that the e-portfolio is used most effectively, it will be important to raise awareness not only amongst students of the potential of e-portfolios to enhance employability, but also amongst staff.


Key lessons


There are a number of key lessons coming from the project, the most important of which are:


In order to gain maximum benefit from using an e-portfolio to enhance their employability, students need to be introduced to the tool as early as possible in their university career. Ideally, this should be during the Induction period and importantly, at regular intervals after that. The tool should be promoted by both academic staff and careers staff so that students receive reminders at appropriate times to review and update their e-portfolio.


In order to ensure that the e-portfolio tool is promoted as indicated above, it is important for there to be a shared understanding of how it can enhance students' employability skills in a way that isn't only linked to individual assessments, but which incorporates a wide range of activities undertaken by students. 


In order for staff to promote e-portfolios effectively and to relay a consistent message to students, it is important not to underestimate the need for staff development and awareness raising in all departments, not just Faculties and Careers.


Looking ahead


The project is closely linked with the University's Grad Edge strategy and we will continue to work closely with the Grad Edge project group to promote the benefits of using an e-portfolio.


Working with employers has added significant value to the project and we will develop further links with employers by working closely with Careers.


The recent merger of the University of Glamorgan with the University of Wales, Newport to form the University of South Wales will present additional challenges as we continue to develop the e-portfolio tool in Campus Pack to be used by all students and staff, particularly as currently, former Newport staff and students have been using an alternative tool for this. As a first step, Campus Pack will be integrated with Moodle, the VLE currently used by former Newport staff and students, pending a wider review of all Learning Systems currently used.


The tool that the University currently uses, Campus Pack, does not provide enough flexibility for the wide range of disciplines taught. It will be important to undertake a review of Campus Pack in comparison with other e-portfolio tools available.




E-portfolios are already closely linked to Grad Edge and in order to be sustainable, it will be important to ensure e-portfolios are embedded in normal practice of student life. In order to achieve this, we will:


  • Review the video footage taken for the video story to focus on key messages from employers, students and staff to promote the use of e-portfolios amongst the different target groups
  • Organise a series of campus-based workshops to promote the benefits of using e-portfolios to staff and students
  • Engage with student champions to share how they are using e-portfolios to develop reflective skills and improve their employability
  • Review the information that is currently provided to students regarding Grad Edge to ensure that information is included about using the e-portfolio tool
  • Carry out a mapping exercise to model different approaches to how and when student might use the e-portfolio
  • Develop an infographic of the student experience in relation to developing employability skills and how this might be reflected in an e-portfolio.
  • Explore the feasibility of linking employability within QA procedures
  • Explore the feasibility of linking employability and the use of e-portfolios into University staff award initiatives and funding possibilities.
  • Review Campus Pack as a tool for e-portfolios - the review will consider the main findings of the project in terms of requirements e.g. flexibility, ability to share with employers and others, exportable, easy to use and easy to integrate into the University's VLE and include input from all those involved in the project.
  • Work with key staff to ensure that we learn from lessons of the project to take e-portfolios forward.






E-portfolios and Employability: Building Learning Cultures for Life presented at altc2013


Training Guides


Text Editor.pdf

e-Portfolio guide.pdf

Training template.docx




Evaluating Resources.xlsx


Workshop Summaries