Building my ePortfolio: What’s the outcome?

Building my ePortfolio: What’s the outcome?

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series Building my ePortfolio

A couple of years ago, I purchased a couple of domains with the intention of creating a professional ePortfolio for myself. It’s been on my to-do list for too long now, as has “writing more frequently on LLU.” So, in the interest of killing two birds with one stone, I’m going to be creating an ePortfolio, and blogging the process here, warts and all.

via flickr user devoinregress (click for original)

This evening, my task was simple-ish. All I had to do was answer one question: what do I want the outcome of this to be? Well, of course I’m not satisfied with one outcome … I want several, in no particular order:

  • to gather evidence of my own learning and professional development
  • to better market myself the next time I am looking for employment (although to be clear, this is not imminent)
  • to have a better understanding of the tools available to individuals looking to build or support ePortfolios
  • to gain experience in a skill many higher ed institutions are requiring or encouraging students to practice
  • to document the process of building an ePortfolio for my future reference, and that of LLU community members
  • to be more engaged in the LLU community

The plan is to finish this project before I go on vacation in a couple of months, so expect to see regular (hopefully weekly) posts from me over the next couple of months. My homework before the next post is to gather content I’ve created — documents, text descriptions, images, videos, links, etc — and to start thinking about ways to organize it. I’ll be looking to y’all to help with inspiration and to keep me honest, so don’t be shy about chiming in with comments, suggestions, criticisms, or questions!

Today’s question for all of you: have you created an ePortfolio for yourself? If so, post a link and contribute your best advice! If not, what’s stopping you?

Series NavigationBuilding my ePortfolio: Gathering & Organizing Content >>

Ryan has been proudly maintaining and contributing to Language Lab Unleashed since 2005, and is the current President of SWALLT. Since the summer of 2013 he's been causing trouble with his all-star colleagues in the UMW DTLT; when not wrangling websites Ryan can be found doing strange things with heavy objects.

4 Comments

  1. Lillie · March 27, 2012 Reply

    Hey Ryan! This will be awesome!

    I was wondering if you think there’s a difference between an ePortfolio and a website, or if it’s just a term used in higher ed to make the website’s content very clear.

    I recently overhauled lilliechilen.com to be a big more helpful than its previous iterations, so that’s a gathering of all my online presences. Next step, I think, is adding a projects page with write ups & links to things I’ve made. So once I do that, do you think I’ll have, as you say, an “ePortfolio”?

    • Ryan · March 28, 2012 Reply

      Hey Lillie!

      Thanks for calling me out on the jargon. This is exactly the kind of thing I meant by y’all helping to keep me honest.

      You’re exactly right — an ePortfolio is just a specific KIND of website. I’d describe it as a carefully selected online collection of evidence of skills and experience, often organized by project or skill area (instead of chronologically, like a traditional resume). What “evidence” means depends entirely upon the person represented by the collection. For example, a social media coordinator could link to particularly successful hashtags they created, Facebook discussions they started, etc; a graphic artist would place high value on visual representations of their work; a customer service rep might focus on descriptions of problems they’ve solved paired with customer testimonials; and a Spanish student might include pieces of writing and/or audio clips that demonstrate their growth in the language over time.

      So, in short, the projects page you describe would be an ePortfolio, yes. Making a PDF copy of your resume and uploading it to your website would NOT be an ePortfolio.

      Part of what makes an ePortfolio so appealing to me is the ability to treat “extracurricular” activity the same as traditional work activity. For example: I recently became a nationally-certified curling instructor, and every week I teach curling for 5 hours (sometimes more). Although curling is something I do for fun, I’m exercising several professionally-related skills during that time: coaching individuals in a relaxed and positive atmosphere, leading groups of mixed ability and age, developing curriculum, providing good customer service, etc. On a traditional resume, the reader might just skim right over this and dismiss it as “fluff”. But on an ePortfolio, I can include pictures and video that help demonstrate the work I’m actually doing.

      I’m looking forward to seeing what you come up with for your ePortfolio! That picture of your cats (the one that looks like a mirror image) should DEFINITELY be on there. :)

  2. Benjamin · March 28, 2012 Reply

    One of my goals over the next few months is to develop a “Presumé” (http://prezi.com/explore/prezumes-and-portfolios/).

    To Lillie’s point, I would say that an ePortfolio is specifically designed to include all content that is intended to present someone in the best possible light. A website and ePortfolio could be the same, but more than likely an ePortfolio will include a “social footprint” that extends beyond any one particular domain. Many educators are involved in several online communities and produce OERs, for example, so the idea of harnessing all of that into a single URL domain may or may not be the best option. A lot will also depend on the amount of interaction one has with others and how this interaction is being interpreted by others, say a potential employer. I see an ePortolio as “connecting the dots” or bringing together one’s online presence into an organized presentation; I think Prezi is one great way to do this.

    • Ryan · March 28, 2012 Reply

      Hey Benjamin,

      Thanks for commenting!

      I love the Presume link, and am going to send that to a colleague who is
      interested in Prezi as a presentation tool, and who also does ePortfolio support.

      I would agree that linking out to resources on other sites is often the easiest way to include them in an ePortfolio. In doing so, though, you risk having those resources disappear, or links break, without warning. If the point of an ePortfolio is to document your work, there’s almost always a way to capture at least pieces of it — whether via a screen shot, a video screen grab, or even a text description. Both Jim Groom and Gardner Campbell have written about the idea of owning one’s online presence, and although neither of them use the word “portfolio”, I think the ideas they raise transfer easily. If you haven’t read those articles, I highly recommend them.

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