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Announcing Freefolio – a social e-Portfolio

November 6th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

FreeFolio-LogoAs regular readers of this blog will know, I have spent a lot of time over the last year working on e-Portfolios and Personal Learning Environments. And I get bored just talking about things, I like to do them.

So I jumped at the chance to develop and test an e-Portfolio system. This is the result – Freefolio. The development work has been undertaken by my friend Ray Elferink from Raycom in partnership with Pontydysgu.

Why didn’t we work with an existing system? We thought very hard about it. It seemed that many of the dedicated e-Portfolio systems were too restrictive. They started from an institutional definitions of what learning would be represents through the e-Portfolio. Others – like Mahara – seemed geared towards particular sectors in education. On the other hand many people were using blogging and social networking systems for e-Portfolio development. that was nearer my idea. However, we were concerned that the basic structure of a blog entry did not provide another support for reflecting on learning.

And so we came up with Freefolio. Freefolio is based on WordPress. Within this we have implemented structured blogging, allowing XML templates to be added to the dashboard for particular kinds of post.

The system also features:

a) A space of aggregating community posts – ‘Community Central’
b) An integrated discussion forum
c) A resource area – based on integration of media wiki
d) A learner profile area
e) Learner based access controls
f) User based sidebars through widgets
g) A standards compliant (Europass) CV with different formats for export

There is more work to do – isn’t there always – and we know this version may not support everything you want of an e-Portfolio. But it is Open Source and easily extendable.

Want to have a look? Go to and set yourself up with an account (don’t worry if you get a rather strange name on the from field on the confirmation email – we will sort that as soon as Ray gets access to the server).

I have tried to populate the site with a little content. Please add some of your own. And tell us what you think.

We are planning to host Freefolio installations in the future for organisations who want this. And of course, we can build new features and customised versions.

But, if you want to install Freefolio yourself, we will be releasing the code in the very near future. And we will be developing a web site around the demo install. I will write more about Freefolio over the coming days. But now is the time to put it out, I think. Release often, they say.

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18 Responses to “Announcing Freefolio – a social e-Portfolio”

  1. Jeremy says:

    Sounds a lot like Elgg — was it too difficult to modify or adapt their open source code for this project?

  2. Josie Fraser says:

    Well done guys! Only had time for a short look around so far but it looks really great – easy to see all of the potential custom applications, and the structure is easy to grasp/explain. When I get the time I’ll write up a review.

  3. Graham Attwell says:

    Good question, Jeremy. I am a big fan of ELGG and ELGG started out as a e-Portfolio application. But I think ELGG has evolved into more of a social networking platform – and that is what Ben said (I think) at the ELGG do in Brighton. Although we wanted some social networking functionality, we have oriented this more towards the e-Portfolio type application.

    We were also very concerned that the interface would be extremely simple for those with little (or no) experience of using social software and felt that this would be easiest to do in WordPress (especially as we were on an extremely restricted budget!). WordPress dashboard makes it very simple.

    I definitely do not see Freefolio as an alternative or competition to ELGG. Depending on the context, needs, objectives etc. – sometimes I would use ELGG, other times Freefolio.

    Josie – thansk for the kind words

  4. Emma says:

    I’ve had a brief look, and it’s looking good – I like the use of structured blogging to help users create posts – while i like the learning event, I’m less sure of the use of the user case – in particular the fact that it asks the gender of the customer.
    I’m not entirely sure where that would fit in. I guess it could be an optional field (that doesn’t show up, rather than saying “unknown”), as it might be important for some instances, but I’d have thought that most of the time it’s irrelevant.

  5. Graham Attwell says:

    Hi Emma and others.

    These were only examples of the different templates we can create – and ones you refer to were set up for specific purposes. The thing is that it is very easy to create these – and with a little work we could build a template editor.

    Have a very nice one somewhere which does book reviews – I will ask Ray to add that one.

    I am interested in designing a series of templates which could be used to support reflective on learning. As I am sure you have realised the challenge is the pedagogy – not the technology.

  6. Josie Fraser says:

    I keep my blogfolio for life long learning type stuff (I count my speaking, writing and research work as part of my personal development), but usually only to document when where and what. It would be a good trick to pull off some flexibility between the form based blogging and and any supporting artifacts, so users could free blog an activity, or pull in some multimedia or external feeds/extracts.

    That said, a core series of robust and well written templates with optional/customisable fields would be great. And I think the use of a series of templates could help students make connections between their observations and understanding of that book/film/etc etc and whatever ‘learning event’ ends up being called.

    There is no reason why this kind of approach (a menu of structured post templates) couldn’t work for an Elgg based environment – and there are enough universities working with Elgg now to get this together if they want to take up the idea and run with it in their own direction.

  7. Emma says:

    I’ve used the “Now REading” plugin for WordPress – though as far as i know it doesn’t yet work with ISBN 13 – which makes it difficult to add new books! I also quite like the one that Warwick have for a general review (books/ CD / etc)

    Pulling in external stuff would be good – I guess the slideshare plugin is useful for that, if you happen to have slideshared it. I’ve not seen if there’s a similar one for Zoho or Google Presentations .. though perhaps some sort of iframe would let you bring in things from any source, rather than pre-defined sources.

  8. scott says:

    Hi Graham,

    On the “structured posts” bit, you may find it useful to get involved with Leap2.0, which is concerned with this topic:


  9. John says:

    Hi all,
    First of all, i would say: Keep up the fine work you did!! Freefolio is looking great!

    In november 2007 i read this line: “But, if you want to install Freefolio yourself, we will be releasing the code in the very near future”. I ask myself when is the time i can install my own Freefolio. I would like to use it on our college.
    Will you pease keep me informed?



  1. […] Attwell, Pontydysgu November 6, 2007 [原文链接] [Tags: Open Source, E-Portfolios] […]

  2. Freefolio ist also draußen und darf nach Herzenslust ausgetestet werden!

    Danke in Richtung Pontydusgu für die Arbeit – und alle, die daran beteiligt waren! 🙂

  3. […] Graham Attwell has just launched a portfolio based on WordPress. That makes it easy to fill up – and it makes use of the structured blogging plugin to create some specialised posts. I can see that some of the post types – such as “Learning Event” would be very useful, though I could see that “Learning Event” and “Training/ course” might well be confused by students. I’m guessing that “Learning Event” could include, for example, an event that wasn’t meant to be a learning opportunity, but ended up being one (e.g. getting the job of organising a departmental social event), or could have been something like, say, reading a book which was very thought provoking etc. I suspect, though, that students may need help to see those as learning events. I would also be nice, I think, to have the MCE input option on the structured items, but I think that’s a plugin issue, not Graham’s! […]

  4. […] to this they are going to release freefolio as open source so I look forward to seeing how they implement […]

  5. […] the Pontydysgu blog to learn more or go straight to the Freefolio demo […]

  6. […] designs and development to see what use we can make of it. That is why I am still excited by Freefolio – at least in hacking WordPress we can react to real needs as we find them, rather than telling […]

  7. […] found reference to this site on Stephen’s blog. Further information can be found from Graham Attwell. Technorati Tags: eportfolio, freefolio, social network Grab a free edublog to your get your own […]

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