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Year : 2022  |  Volume : 20  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 267-268

Universal adoption of e-portfolios in Indian medical education – Need for a paradigm shift

1 Department of Community Medicine, Sri Lalithambigai Medical College and Hospital, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, NRI Institute of Medical Sciences, Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, India
3 Department of Community Medicine, Trichy SRM Medical College and Hospital and Research Centre, Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Submission26-May-2022
Date of Decision19-Jul-2022
Date of Acceptance21-Jul-2022
Date of Web Publication17-Oct-2022

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Hari Teja Avirneni
Department of Community Medicine, NRI Institute of Medical Sciences, Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/cmi.cmi_60_22

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How to cite this article:
John A, Avirneni HT, Swaminathan SS. Universal adoption of e-portfolios in Indian medical education – Need for a paradigm shift. Curr Med Issues 2022;20:267-8

How to cite this URL:
John A, Avirneni HT, Swaminathan SS. Universal adoption of e-portfolios in Indian medical education – Need for a paradigm shift. Curr Med Issues [serial online] 2022 [cited 2023 Mar 22];20:267-8. Available from: https://www.cmijournal.org/text.asp?2022/20/4/267/358648


Competency-based medical education (CBME) has been introduced and is being successfully implemented all across the country. The ultimate aim of CBME is to produce an Indian Medical Graduate who is not only competent, but also be a lifelong learner. In this direction of cultivating lifelong learning among the future medical professionals, self-directed learning (SDL) has been advocated and is being promoted as an effective strategy.[1] SDL aids in the development of metacognitive thinking capabilities among medical students, which in turn enhances their competencies. It also gives an opportunity for the students to develop in a holistic manner, by experimenting and adopting various learning strategies appropriate for them. The other most important dimension of SDL is the students reflection on self-progress and in taking corrective measures in a constructive manner, as they are in the complete control of their learning.[2]

The National Medical Commission (NMC) of India in this direction has mandated and recommended the use of a logbook, with an annexure, desirably in the form of portfolio. The portfolio has been defined as a collection of learner's progression in tasks and competencies, while also being as an evidence in the form of documentation of various learning and assessment activities.[3] Portfolios when implemented on a digital platform are known as e-portfolios and have proven to be effective in cultivating the lifelong learning habit among the students. They have been tested and successfully implemented in various parts of the world at varied academic levels and fields including in medical education. While some of the countries are moving toward universal adoption of e-portfolios in medical education both at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, some countries like the UK have also implemented e-portfolios for doctors. However, in the majority of the countries, such adoption is still in nascent stages, with only a few handful of institutions implementing the portfolios. Similar is the case of the Indian medical education system, with only a few institutes implementing the e-portfolios for postgraduate medical students, while others are confined only to the use of conventional methods.[4],[5],[6]

In order to document and assess students learning progress in the form of attainment of competencies, using conventional assessment is not always possible. The conventional way of assessment most often has been the summative type usually at the end of a semester or a professional year, along with documentation of activities in a logbook. However, these assessments based on examinations and logbook does not reflect on the true learning of the students over a period of time and also misses out on some key areas such as attitude, ethics, communication, critical thinking, and SDL capabilities among many others. The major disadvantage of a stand-alone logbook lies in its inability to capture the processes and experiences of learning among the students. Furthermore, it merely acts as a medium for compilation of activities, which can easily be replicated by sharing among the students, on a namesake basis without much emphasis on purposeful learning.

Another critical aspect is the lack of a continuous system of assessment along with an integrated monitoring mechanism, which not only helps in tracking and reflecting on their learning progress but also gives the scope for mentors or teachers to intervene or guide in a constructive and timely manner. Such flexibility in documenting, tracking, monitoring, and feedback on the learning progress in a timely manner can be provided by e-portfolios over the conventional methods. Another most important feature of e-portfolios is its ability to act as a platform to showcase one's learning and achievements to peers, mentors, prospective employers, and also in professional circles. This along with added credibility the platform provides in the form of time stamps reflects the actual learning processes emphasizing on the standards, which otherwise lacking in the logbook. All these culminate into the step-up in career advancements of the students in a long term.[7],[8]

With the advancements in the technologies and availability of multiple platforms, more importantly, the changing and diversified learning habits of students also fuelled by the pandemic, with their interests inclined toward e-learning and in ease of adoption to digital learning tools along with familiarity in using them leaves a huge window of opportunity to test e-portfolios on a larger scale, eventually aiming at universal adoption in medical education. Hence, a paradigm shift is needed in this direction not only through the policy-level actions but also through the self-directed actions of the institutes in the larger interests of the students. When executed properly, e-portfolios have the advantage and huge potential over logbooks or activity books to engage students with their appeal, level of customization, and flexibility in learning, documenting, tracking, and reflecting on their learning progress. This gives the students, a sense of freedom and control over their learning, while engaging themselves with their peers and mentors, virtually from anywhere, effectively enhancing their competencies while also showcasing their achievements and learning over a period of time. Furthermore, equally important is the participation of teachers/mentors in guiding the students with continuous monitoring of their learning progress aided with an effective feedback mechanism.[9],[10] Although the implementation of e-portfolios on a larger scale has its own challenges in the form of availability of technical and financial resources, along with acceptance from both the students and teachers, the applications of e-portfolio in providing a holistic learning experience to the students remains on a highly exciting and optimistic note.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Medical Council of India. Competency Based Undergraduate Curriculum for the Indian Medical Graduate. Available from: https://www.nmc.org.in/wp- content/uploads/2020/01/UG-Curriculum-Vol-I.pdf. [Last accessed on 2022 May 16].  Back to cited text no. 1
Marzo RR. Role of medical education in cultivating lifelong learning skills for future doctors. Educ Med J 2018;10:63-6.  Back to cited text no. 2
National Medical Commission. Competency Based Undergraduate Curriculum for the Indian Medical Graduate: Log book guidelines. Available from: https://www.nmc.org.in/MCIRest/open/get Document?path=/Documents/Public/Portal/LatestNews/Logbook%20Guidelines_17.01.2020.pdf. [Last accessed on 2022 Jun 28].  Back to cited text no. 3
Haldane T. “Portfolios” as a method of assessment in medical education. Gastroenterol Hepatol Bed Bench 2014;7:89-93.  Back to cited text no. 4
Chae SJ, Lee YW. Exploring the strategies for successfully building e-portfolios in medical schools. Korean J Med Educ 2021;33:133-7.  Back to cited text no. 5
Waghmare LS, Srivastava TK, Srivastava S. Portfolios for a reflective approach in learning. Natl J Physiol Pharm Pharmacol 2016;6:1-3.  Back to cited text no. 6
van Schaik S, Plant J, O'Sullivan P. Promoting self-directed learning through portfolios in undergraduate medical education: The mentors' perspective. Med Teach 2013;35:139-44.  Back to cited text no. 7
Shah N, Singh T. The promising role of the logbook and portfolio in the new competency driven medical curriculum in India. South-East Asian J Med Educ 2021;15:18-25.  Back to cited text no. 8
Marambe KN. Portfolio: An innovative teaching, learning and assessment tool in medical training. Sri Lanka J Med 2016;24:25-9.  Back to cited text no. 9
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Ensuring successful implementation of portfolios in medical institutions: Potential challenges and solutions. J Sci Soc 2021;48:65-7.  Back to cited text no. 10
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