Electronic Portfolios FAQs

We are receiving increasing numbers of queries from Qualification Consultants as centres switch from paper-based to electronic portfolio systems. To help answer your questions and share the information more widely we have compiled this list of frequently-asked questions. It is envisaged that this list will grow over time, so if you have a question not covered below, email it to enquiries@learningassistant.com and we'll do the rest. 

What are e-portfolios?

E-portfolios are web-based information management systems used for evidence gathering and assessment and verification of the evidence. They can be used for any competence-based qualifications with predefined assessment criteria, for example NVQs. They simplify assessment processes without sacrificing assessment quality.

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How do they differ from paper-based portfolios?

External verification of centres using e-portfolios is very similar to external verification of centres using paper-based systems. The records that you need to see to complete verification work are the same regardless of the approach used to store them.

The quality approach in e-portfolios differs in only one important respect from paper administration: the electronic systems rely on user logins and passwords rather than handwritten signatures as a means of guaranteeing that evidence is authentic. 

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What can they offer?

E-portfolio systems enable easy communication between learners, managers, assessors and verifiers. They provide a secure, password controlled environment in which candidates store evidence. This is accessible to tutors, assessors, employers and awarding bodies anytime, anywhere with a computer and internet or, in some cases, local network connection. The internal verifier, candidate line manager and the awarding body have 24/7 access to the e-portfolio system ensuring that working practices are open and transparent. These systems also allow increased flexibility on evidence collection methods including digital pictures, sound and video. 

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What are the benefits for centres?

The benefits listed below are those most frequently cited by centres already using e-portfolios in a City & Guilds survey from 2008:

  • saved paper and environmental benefits
  • reduced storage needs
  • improved student motivation
  • improved IT skills of staff and students
  • accelerated completion times
  • reduced internal workload
  • improved quality standards
  • improved security of assessment records
  • improved staff morale
  • reduced costs.

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What are the benefits for EVs?

The key benefit is that sampling portfolios and assessment decisions can be done at any time and from any location with an internet connection. This means that remote monitoring is much easier to carry out, with no need to send and receive bulky paper-based portfolios through the post. Consequently, more time on EV visits can be spent supporting centre staff with advice and guidance rather than sampling portfolios.

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Does City & Guilds have its own e-portfolio?

Yes. City & Guilds has an e-portfolio called Learning Assistant. Since acquiring Learning Assistant in 2010, we have been working hard to ensure that all our courses and content are available from within our new e-portfolio. By combining our inspirational courses and learning materials with the advanced features of Learning Assistant, we can deliver an unparalleled e-portfolio experience for learners and centres. To find out more go to the Learning Assistant website: www.learningassistant.com

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Which e-portfolios are endorsed?

We currently endorse five e-portfolios:

  • forward ePortfolio PLUS/NVQ Now
  • Learning Assistant
  • OneFile
  • SkilSure
  • Skillwise VQManager.

There are no plans at present to increase this number. Further information about each of these systems is available in the centres' area of this website. 

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What does the endorsement mean?

Each of the endorsed systems has successfully undergone a rigorous process of quality approval by a team of experts including external verifiers in order to carry the badge of endorsement. Our customers can embrace innovation secure in the knowledge that the technology is entirely compatible with City & Guilds' process and quality requirements.

The key criteria for endorsement are: compatibility with City & Guilds systems, good practice in assessment and verification, security, reliability and commercial viability.

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Do I have to use them?

If the centre you are visiting uses one of our endorsed e-portfolio systems then yes, you are expected to use it. The centre should inform you during your visit planning process of any e-portfolio product in use. We would expect any reasonable centre to give you a walk through, but if you require further support in using an endorsed system we can organise a training session with the appropriate provider. 

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What if a centre is using a non-endorsed e-portfolio?

Centres are under no obligation to use just the systems that we endorse - they can use any system. However, centres cannot demand you learn about their specific administration system if it is a non-endorsed e-portfolio. Centres must provide you with the records you need in a format that you can use. This may involve them tutoring you and explaining how it is used. If they are using a non-endorsed system it is their responsibility to ensure that you as the EV are happy using it to view evidence and access assessment records. 

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What if a centre has developed their own e-portfolio?

See above. The policy is the same as for a non-endorsed e-portfolio. It is possible that an in-house system may not be as secure or robust as commercial package. If you do have any concerns you should contact the regional/national office. 

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How widely used are e-portfolios?

Around 20% of City & Guilds centres use them in some capacity (2008). 40% of FE colleges and 33% of training providers said they were 'very likely' or 'quite likely' to switch in the next two years. 

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