Theory (3)
Third, as we arrive at the theories of more contemporary authors and thinkers, we start to see another notion: eportfolios, as a technology, are subject to the same complex metaphors used to describe other technologies, which may account for our inability to effectively assess them. Consider, as Pollan suggests, that technologies make humanly possible the complexities of the nature of our work, particularly in assessment.


Pollan approaches technology from the perspective of agriculture, possibly for the reason of qualifying technology as something "organic-like" or existing for the purpose of trying "to make humanly manageable the complexities of nature" the author describes the process, trials and tribulations of "farming." Within historical, technological, social, and aesthetic reflection, Pollan (2002) attempts to look again at how agriculture is "brutally reductive, simplifying nature's incomprehensible complexity to something humanly manageable" (p.185). That "The metaphors we use to describe the natural world strongly influence the way we approach it, the style and extent of our attempts to control" (p.191). Furthermore, he uses the "potato" within this complex reflection and discussion of agriculture [the technology] to exemplify the patterns/processes at work, which affect larger products and processes, namely humanity and scientific progress. Ironically, in an unlikely or perhaps predictable way, he states "Now we're about to find out what happens when people begin approaching the genes of our food plants as software" (p.191). We look for similarities, just as Pollan does, between technologies and forms of technologies, not always recognizing differences between technologies. We see a portfolio as just a portfolio, yet we cannot always see the “forest for the “trees” as the saying goes.

Here, Pollan suggests some ideas which allow us to make plain the complexities of the eportfolios in this definition. He suggests how we use these metaphors to describe our natural world and how these metaphors can, in a sense, describe the way in which we approach it. If we consider that electronic portfolios and paper portfolios are two different entities with minor similarities, then we have to recognize that Pollan’s argument is not that far fetched. I know, as an instructor, I teach electronic portfolios differently than paper portfolios. I have learned to recognize that the pedagogy is different and the expectations are very different, yet we continue to use the same paradigms for instances of assessment and even pedagogy.