The main focus of Cambridge’s piece centers on a curated museum as a metaphor for eportfolios. But he takes this metaphor (one thing that may represent another) and compares a community e-portfolio created from Augusta, Arkansas and The National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI). Cambridge examines the structures of NMAI and compares those structures to his work on the Augusta Community Portfolio (ACP).
The ACP is not a classroom- or institution-based eportfolio; the eportfolio is meant to “represent the capabilities, history, and desired future direction of the town as a whole through exhibits featuring the products of residents’ literate activity and their individual collective reflections upon them.” This eportfolio is representing a community rather than an individual. The choice to compare the ACP to the NMAI was deliberate—the NMAI is not so much curated by professionals but by communities and community leaders who highlight specific aspects of the community. Cambridge observes trends, criticisms, concerns, etc. of the NMAI and uses those obsevations as a lens to better understand e-portfolios—specifically, community e-portfolios.
Cambridge offers a few frames to observe the ACP:
Heritage vs. History: critics of NMAI believed the exhibits to be “’unscholarly’ or even ‘random,’ failing to provide a single, authoritative curatorial voice (160). But what I found most interesting was that the critics claimed that the community members did not chose a collection that was “objectively important” to that community. So, there’s this tension between how the community wants to represent themselves (heritage) and how the critics want to see (history).
Failure, Authenticity, and Multicplicty in Eportoflios: Cambridge observes that the community leaders for the NMAI were reluctant to focus on failures and “air their dirty laundry.” Cambridge claims that the portfolio genre allows the author(s)/community to attend to failures while also also using those reflections as “catalysts for innovation” (163)
Celebration vs Critical Reflection: Similar to the previous point, the NMAI may attend to the failures or negative aspects of history, but not in a productive way—Cambridge stresses the importance of both productive celebration and critical reflection as points of depature for the future.
Text, Activity and Audience: Here, Cambridge observes that a museum like NMAI does not rely solely on the content, but these kinds of museums beckon a more holistical reception that includes the activity surrounding the content such as dialog with tour guides, artists, people, and other elements that stretch beyond the exhibit.
Like I mentioned, these are frames to understand ACP. And I think this is an interesting way to understand eportfolios—I would recommend the chapter. However, I should mention that I thought the comparison of a lower-class, white, Arkansas town’s representation to Native American’s representation seemed to trivialize Native history/heritage—I thought more should have been said about the overarching concerns with comparing the two contexts.