An e-portfolio is a collection of information and digital artifacts that you have carefully collect and curated to demonstrate your career development, skills and competencies. There are several advantages to having an e-portfolio. They are interactive and visually pleasing to potential employers, and they are able to contain a variety of artifacts and multimedia that paper-resumes cannot accommodate. ePortfolios are generally customizable and have good storage capacity to hold all your documents. Perhaps the best reason to use an ePortfolio is that it can be accessed anywhere at any time, allowing multiple people to view it at the same time and provide feedback.
There are some disadvantages associated with the ePortfolio, however. Hand-in-hand with the accessibility comes the required access to technology and support services that often require your institutional buy-in to purchase. There is also a learning curve for most of these programs—it’s not always a simple one-click and go system. Overall, they can be time-consuming to ensure you have curated all of your artifacts in the correct place and in a pleasing way. There is also security and privacy issues, as with all technology. And lastly, the interface may be unfamiliar to your potential employer—causing issues you wouldn’t have otherwise encountered.
Many choose to use the ePortfolio as a reflective practice on their life-long learning continuum. The ePortfolio has been proven to foster reflective learning when you use the tool correctly. Ensure you are adding adequate experiences and materials into the ePortfolio for reflection, and that you intentionally involve yourself in career development coaching. Each year, take a moment to do a summative assessment of your career thus far and your future goals—where are your gaps?
5 D’s ePortfolio Process
There are four common phases to the creation of an ePortfolio known as the “5 Ds Process.”
During the Design Phase, you should begin to define the purpose and audience of your ePortfolio. Consider any guidelines that may impact your final ePortfolio, such as promotion guidelines, and incorporate those goals into the final plan. Create an outline of your folders and content and develop clear rules for managing/organizing data. Don’t forget to set a timeline for completion to ensure you stay on track!
During the development phase, you will start to build the foundational structure and content of your ePortfolio. Remember and stick to the rules of organization that you outlined in the Design phase. If you feel overwhelmed, sometimes the best place to start is to just familiarize yourself with the technology platform and its capabilities.
During the document phase, you need to begin gathering all your artifacts and writing a purposeful reflection for each experience. Ensure that you have adequate breadth across all your domains, but don’t lose your overall focus and purpose. Complete your ePortfolio outline and list all the activities you want to include in the final product.
In the deployment phase everything comes together as planned – transfer all your documents and artifacts into the live ePortfolio environment. Once you upload all your files, test all the files and links to make sure that everything is working properly. This may seem annoying, but it is an invaluable test that cannot be overlooked or skipped.
In the final phase, you can present your ePortfolio to colleagues for constructive feedback. Take their advice seriously and revise the final product as needed. Once you publish your final ePortfolio, broadcast the new resource on your social media or professional networking sites Don’t forget to setup reminders on your calendar to update the ePortfolio with your latest accomplishments!
Choosing a Platform
When you are looking at various options for ePortfolio tools, remember your final goal and purpose for the product. Check that the software will integrate into any existing systems (curriculum, promotion platforms) that are integral to your professional goals. Look at how easy it is to review the ePortfolio and to add new artifacts/documents. You should also check the archive capabilities of every system you consider. At the same time, rate the reusability and length of use for each system to ensure longevity. Lastly, review the program’s permission settings to ensure you can meet your own privacy goals.
Common ePortfolio Platforms
Tips and Tricks
One of the basic tips related to an ePortfolio practice is related to your harvesting habits. When you have an experience that you want to include in your career advancement narrative, ensure you get as much information and documentation related to that experience as possible. For example, if you are invited to give a presentation, secure documentation of the invitation and the learner feedback/evaluation forms provided. Keep your conference programs. Scan in any written documentation and create PDFs of everything related to the event and ensure you keep it in organized folders. This central electronic folder will become invaluable as you come up for promotion.
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- Useful Websites
- Create ePortfolios with the Amazing Acrobat 9 http://blogs.adobe.com/educationleaders/2008/06/eportfolios_with_acrobat_9.html
- EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative –E-Portfolios http://www.educause.edu/E%2DPortfolios/5524
- EDUCAUSE NLII, New Learning Ecosystems: 2004 NLII Annual Review http://listserv.educause.edu/cgi-bin/wa.exe?A2=ind0409&L=educause-online&P=84 Electronic Portfolio Consortium http://www.eportconsortium.org/
- ePortfolio – dead concept or holy grail in education? http://paulreid.id.au/blog/tag/eportfolio/
- How to use WikiSpaces to create an interactive electronic portfolio http://eportfolios.wikispaces.com/how-to
- Useful Websites
- Portland State University Portfolio http://portfolio.pdx.edu/Portfolio/
- The Cool Cat Teacher Blog http://coolcatteacher.blogspot.com/2006/05/eportfolio-research.html
- The Future of Integration, Personalization, and Frequently Asked Questions About Electronic Portfolios http://helenbarrett.com/faq.html
- The Urban Universities Portfolio Project http://www.imir.iupui.edu/portfolio/about.htm
- Use Del.icio.us to Create Your Eportfolio http://onlinesapiens.wordpress.com/2008/07/17/use-delicious-to-create-your-eportfolio/