Dossier vs. "Live Document"
Some traditional ePortfolio projects approach the ePort as a solution to an HR problem - to document capabilities of employees and students in order to streamline institutional business processes. That may be an important and valid goal, but it is not the sole (or even the primary) purpose of an ePortfolio.
Photograph by swanksalot
"Live Document" - dynamic stream/flow
If viewed separately from any institutional context, an ePortfolio is a live document that represents an individual (or, perhaps a group of individuals). A successful ePortfolio project may enable these individuals to document their practice of teaching and learning, and to record snapshots of personal and professional development. It is not a fill-in-the-blanks templated document, as each ePortfolio must be as unique as the individual it represents.
The most dynamic example of a "live document" ePortfolio is the "blogfolio" - using simple weblog publishing systems to allow individuals to easily document and share information, which is then categorized as belonging to the ongoing portfolio. This form of ePortfolio is the least rigid style, as it allows the individual to reuse bits of content already published to their weblog, in the context of an ePortfolio. As an example, all weblog posts tagged with "Noteworthy" on D'Arcy Norman's weblog
The structure of a live flow can be directed, but it is able to adjust to easily conditions (both internal and external) without arbitrary constraints (such as those imposed by an HR department).
Photograph by Mortalcoil