Types of E-Portfolios

The term e-portfolio is enjoying a lot of press these days in education, but I think sometimes there’s confusion over what exactly it means or what exactly is expected when people are told to start using e-portfolios in the classroom.  The truth is it doesn’t mean just one thing.  Portfolio has always been a term applied to a diverse set of purposes and practices.  Adding the e makes it even more so.

Here are just a few ways we might think of e-portfolios as serving different purposes:

A Project Portfolio:  Whether for a class project or a professional project, a portfolio might certainly be devoted to a single topic, such as a research project, an advocacy project, a public service project, an oral history project, or a literacy project.  Even a reading response journal when put together as a blog, a Google Document, or a podcast feed becomes an e-portfolio.

A Class Portfolio:  Students have been producing portfolios made up of the best of their work for a given class for many years now.  Most teachers are probably familiar with the concept of the class portfolio, at least most teachers in skill based or artistic disciplines.  When that portfolio is composed and submitted through electronic means, it becomes an e-portfolio.

A Student Career Portfolio:  Some colleges now are tracking student progress throughout entire academic careers by having them maintain portfolios with artifacts posted from a variety of classes, reflecting their growth and their range of educational experiences over time.  These portfolios then offer the students a solid web presence and a solid stance from which to apply for jobs or graduate schools upon completion of their degrees.

A Professional Portfolio: In an age when people Google names to find out if they are willing to hire a person on for even a short term contract, traditional CVs are hardly enough to be competitive on the job market.  It’s absolutely vital that those seeking professional positions have a web presence that speaks well of them.  Even those who are not on the job market need e-portfolios as networking tools.

An Artist’s Portfolio: Visual artists, writers, and musicians have long kept compilations of their work to share for professional purposes.  Technological advances mean it is more important than ever that they have something on hand and online to demonstrate their skill levels.

We might think of other examples as well, but the point is the need for a portfolio might take any shape; therefore, the appearance of a portfolio might take any shape as well.  For teachers, this means we serve our students best by exposing them to a variety of opportunities to think about the why and the how of an e-portfolio.  They can’t approach this as simply learning steps in a process.  They need to invest some thinking skills into figuring out how to match their purpose with their product.

This is, of course, not a new idea, but the fact that the available tools change so often does mean it is more important than ever that we help students see the tool as just a means to an end.  The ability to envision what they need, why they need it, and how to make it happen is the part that matters.

Using Visual CV to Create E-Portfolios

VisualCV is perhaps the easiest way to approach e-portfolios.  You only have to sign up for a free online account.  The program guides you through the steps of creating a CV, and in case you need a little extra help, the site provides its own tutorials.

See Brian Stroka’s VisualCV.  He was my student last semester, and he created this for our class. You can see that he has turned an online resume into a portfolio site by adding pictures and writing samples.  He now has this online presence potential employers can peruse.  And if all he needs is a resume after all, he can download that part of his portfolio as a pdf file to print out.  It’s really a perfect system.

VisualCV provides fewer design choices as a portfolio platform than a blogging system like WordPress might.  Still, the result is simple, clean, attractive, and professional.  It’s a wonderful tool for students and professionals alike.

Video Portfolios

I ran across a  nicely done video cv from a teacher.  That sent me off on a YouTube investigation.  It seems there’s quite a trend toward video portfolios now, particularly among welders from the UK.

I’m not sure a video portfolio is as useful to me as a website in terms of efficiently sharing information, but they certainly have a cool factor.

Posterous is My New Best Friend

Seriously, give Posterous a try. It’s the blog platform to which you email it all in. I’ve been seeing it around. Various friends have tweeted their Posterous entries, and I’ve thought “cool,” but what would I really do with that? I’ve also thought, “Why would I possibly need another blog? I have them scattered all about the cyberverse as it is.”

Posterous really is different, though (you say pah, I say poh). Emailing it in means this is for on-the-go blogging. You don’t have much control over the formatting of your blog post. All of that is done automatically. But this also means you don’t have to put any time into it.

You just grabbed some great video on your Flip Cam, but you don’t have time to upload to YouTube and copy the embed code over to your blog? With Posterous, you just email the video straight to the blog. Posterous formats and posts it as embedded video. Zero learning curve involved (presuming you already know how to email an attachment).

I’m excited about the possibilities for podcasting. I’ve done some podcasting for my students and a little for my personal blogging, but I’m always looking for a more efficient way to go about it.

To podcast on Posterous, you just email the mp3 file to your blog. It is automatically posted and formatted with its own visual player. It’s also automatically sent into a feed that can be accessed through iTunes. This is perfect for class podcasting because I get both a permalink and an iTunes feed with no set up time. Students can access it in whichever way works best for them, and I can link individual recordings into particular units within my Blackboard course.

This is easy and free for up to 1 GB of space. That means it’s a good way to have students do podcast assignments as well.

Basically, we have a very effective trade off here. What you lose in control, you gain in convenience.

I’m going to use it for linking audio files to my regular blogs and for mobile blogging. I can email or text in an entry from my phone. There’s also a PicPosterous iPhone app that posts any pictures taken through it directly to your Posterous blog.

Oh, yes, Posterous, I’m so glad we got to know each other. I will be your bff right up until you say I’m out of space.

Teaching Loads

Interesting conversation here:

http://reassignedtime.blogspot.com/2010/02/workload-teaching-load.html

Found via:

http://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/confessions_of_a_community_college_dean

Due to a steady decline in state funding and steady increase in enrollment over the past few years, our teaching loads have grown to beyond believable. Of course something is sacrificed. Of course time is limited for student feedback. Of course we change the kinds of assignments we require as well as our approaches to teaching them. You have to survive somehow.

That's not to say, though, that all is lost even as we say all is not as it should be. It does mean we have to put more time into finding educational "hacks" or ways around enormous obstacles. That's one reason I'm playing around with podcasting this week. My students have responded well in the past to audio recordings–as well as to anything, in fact–and I need to find a workable broadcast model for providing more group feedback to compensate for less individual feedback.

I do believe copious individual feedback is the best approach, but you have to survive somehow.

Posted via email from Just Haphazardry

Library Tutorials

I made these videos about a year ago, so they may be falling out of date somewhat already, but here they are regardless. Anyone who shares the same library database subscriptions is welcome to use them. I plan to make more soon, so stay tuned…

Locating JCJC’s Online Library Resources

Choosing Databases in EBSCOhost

Setting up a Basic Search in EBSCOhost

Conducting a Search in Academic Search Premiere

Searching for Sources in Newsbank