Monday, March 22, 2010

ePortfolios - my take

Response to a colleague on sister campus, via our campus technology Google Group -- check out Carrie's original post here:


I was debating whether to leave a comment on your blog (as well as post on the Google group) or whether to post on my blog and the Google Group. Since this seemed like a rather lengthy topic I opted to post on my EdBlog :-)

Speaking of Blackboard...all I can say about that LMS is "bleh". We use WebCT Vista (aka Blackboard Vista) on our campus. I'm sure that the ePortfolio trial we had at our campus was because we couldn't wait for WebCT to implement something in their LMS products. Of course looking at some of the social features of Vista all I can say is that it's good that we started a trial instead of waiting for the LMS vendors to do something (it would have probably been bad anyway ;-) )

I personally don't have an ePortfolio, opting instead to list my academic work in my online CV (under print and online). In a sense, my ePortfolio for the instructional design program is the stuff I started for student/alumni network (wiki, ning community, twitter, etc.) and also my capstone project which I will be offering under a Creative Commons BY-SA license.

Of course, had I seriously pondered an ePortfolio earlier on in my academic career, I would have done all my work with the intent to fit into an ePortfolio from the start. I don't have the energy to go back retroactively and put it all out there :-) I think that it would be great for my graduate program to require students to have an ePortfolio for many reasons, some of which are:

  • To get some of my technologically challenged classmates out of their comfort zone and experiment some more - as instructional designers and eLearning professionals I think this is important.

  • To showcase your academic work to potential employers - even if your hard drive crashes, having your work online means that you always have access to it.

  • To create further incentive to produce top notch work - I know that we're all hard working graduate students, but having out material visible to the world gives us that extra incentive to polish projects to a shine!

  • To show how you've grown as a professional - unlike computers, we don't have two states: incomplete and complete. Showing that we've grown as we've progressed through the curriculum is important!

I think in our program it would have to be included into the syllabus and the design of each course taught in the program - along with other things - so it's something to add to our lobbying group's agenda LOL. :-)

As far as your situation with submitting your ePortfolio on CD-ROM, let me play devil's advocate for a moment. CD-ROMs may be boring, but they are also archival (much more so than websites). If a program is asking for an ePortfolio submission, they need a snapshot of that ePortfolio at the time of your graduation that goes into their records. If someone needs to go back and verify that you did the work you needed to do to graduate from the program, that information is easily accessible. On a website on the other hand, that information in malleable and it doesn't necessarily represent your work at the time that you were a student in that institution.

An ePortfolio can kill two birds with one stone. It can be something you can show to future prospective employers, and as such an online option that has a good UI is preferable to a CD-ROM. Then again, the schools don't care much about that part. What they want is something that they can look at, stamp with a seal of approval, give you your degree, and then keep the Portfolio for their records in case anyone asks. For this purpose the CD is much better.

By the way, I like your idea of using a wiki to create and an ePortfolio while tapping into your YouTube, SlideShare and Scribd accounts. Personally I think I would probably go with Rapidweaver (on the mac), create a custom theme and upload the Porfolio to the my hosted space :-) (similar to what I did with my CV). I think that with rapidweaver, the stacks plug-in (and others!) and with page-within-page you can come up with some pretty nice ePortfolios (provided that you've got some time on your hands to mess around :-) )
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