ePortfolios as Hybrid Learning Arenas in Vocational Education and Training

  • Leif Christian LahnEmail author
  • Hæge Nore
Part of the Technical and Vocational Education and Training: Issues, Concerns and Prospects book series (TVET, volume 29)


The use of ePortfolios has become a common integrating element of vocational education and training (VET) in many countries (Attwell G, Pumilia P, Data Sci J 6(3):S211–S219, 2007). They serve different purposes but are often recommended as an effective tool for the documentation and assessment of learning and experiences (Cambridge D, Eportfolios for lifelong learning and assessment. Wiley, New York, 2010). Schools have claimed that this technology could bridge the gap between school and work in VET and stimulate the articulation and reflection of “tacit” knowledge, experience, and learning (Rauner F, MacLean R, Handbook of technical and vocational education and training research, vol 49. Springer, Dordrecht, 2008). In this article, we introduce the concept of hybrid learning arenas, derived from hybrid qualifications in VET, which refers to a combination of general and vocational learning (outcomes) (Davey G, Fuller A, Sociol Res Online 18(1):1–10, 2013). Within the Norwegian dual VET system, we add an institutional dimension by positioning the ePortfolio systems as a liaison device between apprentices, training offices, schools, and companies by analyzing to what extent this tool supports innovative apprenticeship (Deitmer L, Hauschildt U, Rauner F, Zelloth H, The architecture of innovative apprenticeship, vol 18. Springer, Dordrecht, 2012). Based on a study of ePortfolios in Norwegian VET, our discussion is guided by two research questions: In what ways do ePortfolios represent a new structure that could be characterized as a hybrid learning arena? What kind of learning processes take place in these arenas?

Our study is based on interviews with 47 apprentices and 58 in-company trainers and staff from 11 training offices in 3 different vocations: plumbing, industrial mechanics, and sales. The interview data were validated and elaborated by documentary evidence from ePortfolios, local training plans, task descriptions, assignments, assessment schemes, and other reports submitted to the training offices by the apprentices or trainers.

Findings from these data show that ePortfolios are used very differently across the vocations observed. This also goes for their ability to mediate or integrate between the different institutions in the dual model.


ePortfolio Vocational education and boundary crossing Hybrid learning arenas 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Vocational Teacher EducationUniversity of OsloOsloNorway
  2. 2.Department of Vocational Teacher EducationOslo and Akershus University College of Applied SciencesOsloNorway

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