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The Open Source Portfolio is a suite of tools that work together to provide an environment for instructional designers to develop a "portfolio experience" for their students and faculty.

Tool interactions in OSP

The tools on the left side of the diagram (green) are primarily related to the template-based portfolio experiences and rely on XML technologies.

  • The thick red arrows indicate that data entered into forms, matrices and wizards are stored in resources as XML content.
  • The thick blue arrows represent the collection/aggregation of various sources of XML content into a single XML document that may be displayed to portfolio audiences.
    The tools on the right (yellow) are related to the free-form portfolio experiences. Some tools play a role in both types of experiences.

At its heart, many of the tools of OSP can be thought of as a personal content management system that uses XML technologies to describe, store and display user content. Instructional designers that want to customize OSP will need to understand XML Schema and XSL to create their own portfolio forms and templates.


The Forms tool allows you to create an series of prompts for users. You may use forms in a variety of contexts in OSP:

  • in cells of a matrix or pages of a wizard to help guide the user through the process creating the content for their portfolio
  • in cells of a matrix or in wizards to collect portfolio reviewers feedback and faculty evaluations of some collection of student work
  • in portfolio templates to prompt the student for information about a portfolio

The forms tool takes an XML Schema file and (based on rules internal to the tool) renders an HTML form to the end user. Optionally, the internal rules that govern the appearance of the HTML form can be overridden by designating a custom form renderers and views.

All content that students create by filling out forms is stored as XML in Resources and (by definition) validates against the XML schema for that form.

Form Builder

The Form Builder tool supports the creation of forms through a web interface. Suitable to give less-technical people the ability to author forms for use in portfolios.


Matrices are 2 dimensional grids that you may use to provide a visual model of the types of information that an institution encourages or requires their students to consider when creating their portfolio. You may provide detailed instructions in each cell and attach various forms to the cell to guide the student through the process.

Each cell of the matrix can be considered an activity around which students collect and possibly describe items related to the cell's purpose. Optionally, you may designate reviewers and evaluators to provide students with feedback or to evaluate their progress in each cell by completing forms designed for this purpose.

When a portfolio template is used to display the contents of the matrix, all of the related files, XML content and scaffolding are assembled into a large XML document that may be displayed in any number of ways with custom XSL.


Wizards may be designed as sequential wizards or hierarchical wizards. Wizards are constructed by creating a number of pages. A sequential wizard forces the user to move through its pages one after the other in a stepwise fashion, while the designer of a hierarchical wizard allows the user to select a page of the wizard that they wish to use at any given point. As with matrix cells, you may create wizard pages with forms for students, reviewers and evaluators to use.


The glossary allows you to create a list of terms and definitions for a work site. When the terms appear in a wizard or a matrix, the terms are linked to their respective glossary definitions.