ePortfolios

This fall the Academy or VTGrATE assisted with the Graduate School’s GTA Workshop sessions on ePortfolios. In the spring, the Graduate School decided to work with the library, which was beginning work on an ePortfolio pilot using Portfolium. Dr. Hajj, the associate dean with the Graduate School who works on the GTA Workshop, approached GrATE to help with this for the workshop.

Through the summer two of the Founding Fellows, myself and Jordan Laney, worked with Dr. Hajj, Dean DePauw, and the staff in Learning Design/Teaching & Learning Engagement within the library to prepare for the ePortfolio sessions within the GTA Workshop. It took some time to figure out how the members, associates, and fellows of GrATE could learn about Portfolium and ePortfolios and then communicate that in a workshop session to new graduate students. Also over the summer around 20 people from GrATE were trained in these areas by Learning Design staff. During the fall, in the GTA Workshop sessions, 15 people from GrATE introduced ePortfolios to around 120 new GTAs. The fall sessions were wonderful. Overall, the GTAs had never heard of ePortfolios, so we had the opportunity to introduce the concept to a new generations of GTAs and future faculty. Most of the session attendees were interested in the concept.

Knowing that  many people would not have an ePortfolio or would be unaware of the concept, the workshops had a two-fold piece to them. First, it was introducing ePortfolios as a tool. A tool for us as professionals and scholar to have a place to demonstrate what we are working on and have learned. We can cultivate our digital presence through ePortfolios and provide access to the work that we are doing/have done.  This can be an individual aspect or for one’s culmination of their major/degree.

The second piece ePortfolios can be used is for teaching and learning. ePortfolios can be used in the classroom to demonstrate what has been gained and learned through a course. By showing elements of skills that were learned, such as communication and critical thinking or collaborative work. A piece of using ePortfolios in the classroom that I like, because of my own teaching philosophy using feminist pedagogy, is the reflection aspect. Making discoveries by taking time to process what you did for a course, why, what was learned, how you came to the final product, etc. A student can show their process, their initial reactions, and how they might take what they did for one course further into other courses or their career.  Hopefully by the end of multiple courses and maybe even an entire degree program, a student will have their own digital identity and professional development presence. This can even include what they have learned outside the classroom through field study, internships, study abroad, clubs, volunteer activities, and more. ePortfolios can help students and professionals present a holistic image of who they are, the skills they have, and what they can bring to a position.

There are two areas that draw me towards ePortfolios. One is the reflection aspect when presenting artifacts (e.g., assignments, CV, research, publications, presentations) on the ePortfolio page.  The second is that ePortfolios are dynamic and accessible ways for us to show who we are in a holistic view. We are not just one piece of what we have done, but a whole collection of what we know, have experienced, and even where we want to go.

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