At a news conference today University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) Chancellor Kathryn A. Martin announced the move to "open source" the university's newly created, innovative Electronic Portfolio (ePortfolio) system. ePortfolio is a revolutionary new program of gathering, storing and distributing personal, individual data and information. It is a proven system built on seven years of research, development and practical application at the university. The innovative technology has the ability to dramatically change forever the way a person's individual records are gathered, stored and shared.
University of Minnesota students, faculty and staff can now safely store and access their educational records, work samples, resumes, writing samples, legal documents and other personal data in a secure, globally accessible computing environment. Associate Professor Treuer provided a graphic demonstration of the system; and four UMD students highlighted their portfolios.
By releasing its ePortfolio as "open source" software, the university is providing non proprietary, open access to the use of this emerging technology. Thus, not only is it free to use, but any person or institution can make adaptations and changes to the system itself. Individuals are then encouraged to share their program code changes with the university's Open Source Portfolio Initiative (OSPI) group. This is the first electronic portfolio project to be built with open source (non-proprietary) software. All other emerging systems are proprietary (meaning they cannot be freely accessed).
"We are truly excited about the creation of ePortfolio and its ability to revolutionize the future of personal data management," said Chancellor Martin. "We believe the very best way to gain further rapid advancement of this important system is through "open source"--thus opening the door to significant input and enhancement from others."
The idea for ePortfolio originated at UMD in 1995. The project was spear-headed by Chancellor Martin. UMD Associate Professor Paul Treuer came up with the idea, and was joined by the U of M web development team, to create this innovative new system of managing personal records and creating a lifetime educational history. Under the leadership of Kari Branjord, Director of U of M Enterprise Applications and Web Development, the system has undergone rapid progress. ePortfolio is currently used by 23,000 U of M students, faculty and staff. Under the university's "Technology for Life" plan, students may continue to use and enhance their personal ePortfolios throughout their lifetime.
The Open Source Portfolio Initiative (OSPI) was formed in January 2003. The OSPI founding partners include technology experts from the University of Minnesota, the University of Delaware and The RSmart Group, (a technology company specializing in educational applications). The OSPI group will oversee the ePortfolio as it expands to include contributions from multiple partners. The mission of the OSPI project is to collectively build non-proprietary Java Enterprise architecture so that it is robust, inexpensive and portable.
On February 11, 2003 Chancellor Martin and Paul Treuer made a presentation to the Northwestern Medical Association annual meeting in Idaho on the "Educational and Medical Applications of the ePortfolio". They demonstrated how the University of Minnesota ePortfolio technology can be easily used for medical records, and how it also provides an important mechanism for the protection of privacy.
ePortfolio creator UMD Associate Professor Paul Treuer said, "Every individual can and should be enabled to manage and distribute and control his/her own personal digital information. This is the future of individual records management. This is the future of knowledge management. And ePortfolio provides the technology for that future."