I have been exploring the Adobe Acrobat X Pro e-portfolio tool. The Adobe Acrobat X Pro e-portfolio is basically a container for a variety of digital objects. One can drag and drop various multimedia files, office documents and text files into the program which will then present these files in a dynamic fashion. My initial reaction was that the program was basically offering nothing more than a glorified file management tool. Yet I do appreciate the fact that allows the user to quickly combine files, package them together and create a single portfolio file.

There is a quick video overview of the Adobe feature set for e-portfolios at the top of this webpage. Note that the video demo’s an older version of Adobe Acrobat Pro, but the basic functionality is quite similar. Furthermore this blog post details the e-portfolio creation process step-by-step. A sample e-portfolio built with Adobe is available here and can be viewed in the browser if you have Adobe installed.

I was unable to find any scholarly reviews of Adobe as an e-portfolio tool via Google Scholar. Adobe is frequently mentioned as a potential authoring tool, but no proper review of its integration into an e-portfolio intervention could be found.

In as far as my limited exploration of the tool has allowed, I have weighed up the following pros and cons of using the Adobe e-portfolio tool.

The pros:

  • Easy drag and drop of files to combine into a packaged PDF
  • Handles and presents specific media files well
  • Bundles files into a single PDF file
  • Visually impressive file management and animation
  • Possible to transfer large files via Adobe Sendmail
  • Secure and private if file is independently managed

The cons:

  • Requires Acrobat Pro license to author or edit content and portfolio structure
  • Content must be authored in other applications – Adobe only deals with file handling and presentation
  • Only opens with Adobe reader – not true open standard PDF (tested against Foxit PDF reader and GDocs PDF upload)
  • Based upon Flash, rendering it un-viewable on a number of devices
  • Commenting possible, but very limited and a bit clunky
  • Some content objects can only be viewed in external applications (e.g. Office docs)
  • Save to web format produces Shockwave files
  • Requires Adobe Sendmail account to transfer large files

Based on my review, I would generally not favor building e-portfolios as PDF files in Adobe. I believe that we want students to own the e-portfolio long after completing their studies at UCT, thus they must be able to easily update and access their portfolio without having to purchase software. I am also quite concerned about the fact that the Adobe tool authors PDF’s which can only be opened in Adobe Reader and are based on Flash; a presentation standard which appears to be on the decline. Although the Adobe Acrobat e-portfolio tool does simplify the process of combining and packaging files together, it falls short in terms of providing long term accessibility (edit’ability) to our users and raises significant issues around the portability of the e-portfolio.

Exploring the Adobe e-Portfolio Tool

CC BY 4.0 Exploring the Adobe e-Portfolio Tool by Michael Paskevicius is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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