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What’s up with those ePortfolio things?

So, one of the things I have had the chance to explore throughout graduate school is the creation, editing, and (constant) re-visioning of an ePortfolio. Never heard of that? That’s fine, and not an uncommon reaction!


ePortfolios are a means to digitally define and describe my online presence. Which can come across as kind of confusing and redundant. At one level, I’m DEFINING where I exist and the work that I do; I have the ePortfolio, which links to this blog, my ORCID account, and articles I authored. I’m also DESCRIBING my work; I can go into more detail and link places on my ePortfolio in ways that might fit together thematically, instead of chronologically.


Using an ePortfolio not only allows me to connect all the disparate pieces of what I do and here I have been (which can be tricky as I am working through a self-designed individualized, interdisciplinary PhD program), but it allows me to puzzle out future steps and projects. By having a place to not only reflect on the finished product, but the process of getting from Point A to Point B (using detour G, over option L, and taking options 2,4, and 7 along for the ride), I learn a lot more from my work that I have in previous projects.


For example, not only do I have my own personal ePortfolio (and I’m starting to think that ePortfolios could be more collaborative – such as for a lab group or a research team – any group where focus and projects change over time), but I have research ePortfolios, I have taught them, and I have shared information about them as part of my service to the VT Graduate Academy of Teaching Excellence.


GrATE has started sharing information about ePortfolios as part of the GTA Workshop, starting during the fall of 2017. I co-facilitated with other fellows a very engaged session in which we talked about the whys and hows of ePortfolios. Some people were familiar with them, most not, but people were asking questions about what appropriate artifacts might be; these are the “proof in the pudding” so to speak – the evidence that we have written the paper, won an award, or simply “done the thing” that we set out to do, whether it is a professional or a personal win.


One of the greatest gifts that the ePortfolio has given to me is that it makes me conscious of the time that goes into ANY of the projects I have completed. This seems simple, but everything always seems so much easier after it’s finished than when you are slogging through it. Having these reminders and touchstones of “yes, this was rough, but you’ve already gotten through all THIS before” helps to not only keep me working productively, but keeps me from losing hope when something doesn’t comes as naturally or as easily as I’ve told myself it should.


ePortfolios – Not only good for keeping track of the good things, but for keeping track of the difficult path that sometimes have to be taken to attain them.

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