Proposal abstract

Research on ePortfolios in higher education suggests that ePortfolios provide learners with opportunities to document learning across contexts.  Central to this is the ability of ePortfolios to enable learners to reflect on learning that happens in a variety of contexts, which can empower them (Penny Light, 2016). In order to be empowered, though, learners must have opportunities to develop their identity (Nguyen 2013; Barrett, 2004). ePortfolios prepare  learners to develop their identity, by reflecting on the ways that their various learning experiences are connected. The central value of the portfolio for learning is that learners are able to develop their reflective abilities over their learning career.  As such, ePortfolios are a living portal that allows learners to continuously revisit their thinking in light of new learning experiences (Nguyen, 2013).

While many ePortfolio implementations mindfully build in the time and space for reflection and carefully scaffold the development of folio thinking across courses and programs, they do not often encourage learners to consider the ways that their learning identities are also shaped by culture.  As first-generation and Indigenous learners comprise a larger percentage of our learner population, it is imperative that we look to the ways that culture shapes learner identities, so that students can harness their backgrounds as a way of understanding, who they are and the unique qualities and characteristics they bring to higher education.

Just as folio thinking needs to be developed over time, so too do cultural identities.  This is particularly true for learners who come from Indigenous or minority groups that have suffered historical trauma.  Instead of accepting the negative identity that is given to minority or Indigenous learners, cultural identity portfolios can assist them to to construct a healthy identity based on their values and culture through ePortfolios. Learners who utilize folio thinking can share their diverse perspectives among others who are unfamiliar with the daily struggles or the influence that culture has on perspectives and identity. Further, the development of a cultural identity through ePortfolios is a method of reconciliation for all learners who have experienced oppressive histories that destroyed culture, languages, and identity.

This published project will direct future research, promote a sense of pride in Indigenous peoples as they learn more about their culture and see it celebrated and, open up a new means for communities to share their history and be a guide to other minorities who want to share and celebrate their culture and traditions. There is a lack of research on cultural identity ePortfolios. Other institutions and researchers can build upon and implement cultural identity ePortfolios within their existing frameworks. Indigenous culture and history has been traditionally shared through oral communication. ePortfolios are a means for cultural identity to be shared and celebrated on a bigger scale, promoting the interactive recording and sharing of heritage, especially amongst a younger population who is looking for an accessible way to learn about and share their own heritage and culture.