In a country with the largest economy in the history of the world, the following graph might seem like a fluke:

That’s right. According to a global assessment of 15 year olds conducted in 2012 by the Pew Research Center, the US ranked 35th in mathematics competencies and 27th in science competencies in the world.

To add another dash of cognitive dissonance, the debate has only intensified over standardized assessments vs. individualized learning outcomes. It’s a catch-22 in that, while we must ensure that current and future educational standards are measurably improving our student population, the universal implementation of these standards gets mixed results at best.

The answer? Well, that’s the point–the quest for a singular panacea seems to be the disease itself. So the question centers now on, not universal outcomes, but rather universal frameworks for achieving desirable outcomes.

While the Pew Research Center’s study only focused on 15 year olds, it implies a deficit with which these students will enter higher education. Colleges and universities across the country, however, are slowly adapting their curriculums to better suit a student’s unique intellectual journey. An essential component of this evolving framework is the ePortfolio.

What is an ePortfolio?

The Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) defines ePortfolios as simply “digital repositories of student work.” But the AAC&U’s push for nationwide adoption of ePortfolios centers around the concept’s amenable functionality:

“The electronic or digital portfolio is an ideal format for collecting evidence of student learning, especially for those outcomes not amenable nor appropriate for standardized measurement.  Additionally, eportfolios can facilitate student reflection upon and engagement with their own learning across multi-year degree programs, across different institutions, and across diverse learning styles while helping students to set and achieve personal learning goals. Eportfolios provide both a transparent and portable medium for showcasing the broad range of complex ways students are asked to demonstrate their knowledge and abilities for purposes such as graduate school and job applications as well as to benchmark achievement among peer institutions.”

The University of Oregon provides a comprehensive scope of how ePortfolios serve both the student and administrative spheres:


ePortfolios not only enhance the individual experience of students and administrators alike, they also provide a customizable tool for Big Data analysis. From a singular classroom to the entire American student population, the more patterns and trends we can identify, the more capable we will be to provide a cornucopia of solutions that serves every student, regardless of geography or sociocultural status. 

Here’s a graph representing a study conducted by the AAC&U which shows the slow but sure increase of ePortfolio adoption across AAC&U member schools (numbering in the hundreds):


So where’s the REAL tech in all of this?

Though the majority of schools now use ePortfolios “for some students and programs,” the heart of this innovation requires that ePortfolios don’t become merely digital desk drawers where, by the time a student graduates, all of his or her work is junkpiled as a sort of third-rate attachment for a job application.

Software developers are now talking more and more about the lifecycle of ePortfolios, which, in an initial sense, means how students can integrate these frameworks into their career entrances, and, in a perpetual sense, means the adaptability of these frameworks to the entire trajectory of a post-schooling career.

Where the concept of these lifecycles is most relevant and most ripe for innovation is within the health care schooling system. As heavily regulated as the health care market is, its educational counterpart introduces an additional complexity via the accreditation process. Because accreditation is tiered between national and state standards, and accreditation statuses exist at the university, departmental, and program levels, any shift in accreditation policy can become a serious can of worms. Tracking clinical hours and proficiency alone requires a software that is both agile and communicable across diverse health care schooling systems, which themselves have yet to adopt a consistent system for assessing course and curriculum outcomes.

Nursing schools especially require a highly-customized approach to the ePortfolio framework, and broad application ePortfolio vendors have yet to provide any viable solutions within this niche. As our national approach to health care transitions more and more to a Population Health model, the number of nursing disciplines exponentiate, straddling the on-site, in-home, and telehealth modes of care delivery, furthering the problem of standardization within the niche-specfic ePortfoilo model.

And what’s the solution?

CB Bridges, a modular SAAS service that incorporates all the steps needed to place, track, collect and evaluate students, offered by CastleBranch, provides the idiosyncrasies that general ePortfolio software has yet to integrate. With 20 years experience CastleBranch has been listening to its customers and understands that an ePortfolio is comprised of many data points and steps along the career path, all of which is typically collected by multiple tools. By integrating all these tools into a single offering, a nurse can establish a relevant, up-to-date, verifiable ePortfolio that is valuable for employers.

 CB Bridges capabilities include:

Interactive placement process

  •  Increase efficiency

  •  Identify opportunities

  •  Simplify collaboration

Dynamic calendar functionality

  •  View opportunities at a glance

  •  Access request details

  •  Monitor unit and course schedules

Report generation

  •  Build custom reports

  •  Track clinical hours

  •  Create community benefit reports

Partnership management for facilities

  •  Define partnership levels

  •  Assign partnership status

If your institution is still searching for solutions that accommodate the complexities and unpredictability of the health care sector, contact CastleBranch today to learn what they can do for you. 


This blog was produced by the tekMountain Team of Sean AhlumAmanda SipesBill DiNome, and with lead writer Zach Cioffi

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