Will anyone look at my e-portfolio?

Lilian AustinLilian Austin‘s specialty is learning design – but does she follow her own advice when it comes to e-portfolios?

In this changing world of work and study…

…we need to constantly reinvent ourselves, continually presenting our skills and knowledge to new audiences such as clients, professional bodies, educational institutions and potential employers. Just recently I had to return to my own e-portfolio when I left the university for which I had worked for many years. It was a time to re-assess, re-collate and re-curate my own e-portfolio to align it with my new work priorities and opportunities. It was also a time to put my ‘money where my mouth is’ – after years of encouraging students to develop and maintain an e-portfolio, I could hardly shy away from the task myself. This process brought home to me, yet again, one of the real advantages of e-learning – the opportunities to represent our skills, knowledge, projects and learning with evidence from both formal and informal education. Theory meets learning meets real world experience.

Credits: Portfolio mosaic, by allispossible

Constructing our future with e-learning

As educators and trainers we have the opportunity to make e-learning and e-assessment become part of the way that our students construct their future and ongoing professional personas and therefore shape their lives. By carefully designing learning and assessment tasks we can assist students to gather evidence as authentic artefacts and place them within their e-portfolio space. This gives them the opportunity to revisit their learning, consider it afresh in the light of their new plans, and compile the evidence or products of their learning as rich narratives of their knowledge and skills.

But nobody will look at my e-portfolio

Yes they will! I have heard this from teaching staff and students too. Increasingly potential employers are looking at LinkedIn and other social media profiles – why not look at e-portfolios which have the potential to present a candidate in a very real and authentic way? Indeed during the process of writing this article I learned that eWorks recently assessed e-portfolios as part of their recruitment of an intern. I remember a pre-service teacher who was embarking on the task of getting teaching employment, putting together a rich and engaging e-portfolio. On her opening screen she featured a video of herself speaking to the camera about her passion for her new career and for working with teenagers in the science classroom. Her e-portfolio included an array of multimedia examples of her skills in teaching and was so much more illuminating than a mere CV.  She took her laptop into the job interview and opened the e-portfolio at appropriate times to demonstrate what she was asserting in the interview. It definitely had the wow factor. Needless to say she got the job and is now science co-ordinator at that high school.

The Challenge

The challenge is to construct assessment tasks which allow students to creatively evidence the assessment criteria. These can be collated in an integrated e-portfolio and used again and again in multiple iterations as students reconfigure their e-portfolios for different audiences over time. This is a wonderful win-win – teachers see evidence that their students have learned, and students can use this evidence to:

  • gain a qualification
  • learn 21st century skills by using and applying multimedia and ICT skills which are sought by employers
  • pursue employment and other interests in the ‘real’ world.

For a chat about the use of e-portfolios in education, or for general advice about good learning design, contact Lilian.