Guidelines for Creating a Professional E-portfolio

Overview of E-portfolios

Expectations of showcasing electronic evidence of student accomplishments have grown significantly in recent years and will continue to accelerate. For example some employers require electronic copies of placement files and are more closely examining e-portfolios as complements if not replacements to standard binder portfolios. For an appreciation of this trend read this article http://blogs.forbes.com/danschawbel/2011/02/21/5-reasons-why-your-online-presence-will-replace-your-resume-in-10-years . A professional e-portfolio provides evidence of your best work that collectively showcases your skills, knowledge, and experiences to prospective employers or entrance into graduate school. An e-portfolio is typically organized in HTML format for publishing to the Internet and can include PDF documents when printed copies are required. 

You acquire important technical skills including Web page design and publishing, inserting hypertext, working with digital media, adding gadgets, editing basic HTML code, and file and folder organization. Furthermore these skills are enhanced, interacting with each other during the e-portfolio building process. In general, the longer the process the more these skills are reinforced and retained. 

Initially tools for creating e-portfolios were cumbersome, difficult to use-and-access, expensive, and proprietary. The transition to social media applications (e.g. Facebook, Flickr, Blogger, Twitter) have accelerated the movement towards owned, user (student) created content. These applications only require the use of a web browser. The adoption of Google Apps with Google Sites has provides a comprehensive solution for Elmira College students to create e-portfolios in a web 2.0 environment. 

Quotes from students who have completed e-portfolios:
"It has allowed me to clearly and impressively market myself to employers, while helping me gather my qualifications all in one location. It gave me an extra edge over other applicants. It has also helped me become much more knowledgeable and comfortable with webpage design and creation."
No matter what your academic field, the ability to present your goals and qualifications in a professional manner is essential to land that first big job. The e-portfolio is today’s most effective way to reach employers with that information. I have no doubt that my website was a determining factor in the application process. It gave employers a real meaning to the phrase 'proficiency in web design' that might have otherwise been overlooked on my resume."
The first two statements I have heard at every interview I've had, and I have had many, mention the quality of my resume and website. I have no doubt that my site has had a positive effect on my first impression to employers by providing a pre-interview notion of my personality, professionalism, and creativity. I have had great successes in my job search because I have made every effort to do at least a few things completely different than my peers. An e-portfolio has been one of the most effective."

E-portfolio Web Site

The e-portfolio web site: http://sites.elmira.edu/portfolio provides training resources, general resources, a slideshow presentation on Teacher Education portfolios that applies to all students, and a growing list of student portfolios that showcase what students at Elmira College have accomplished.

Overview of Your Professional E-portfolio

With Google Sites you can create a comprehensive professional e-portfolio that includes your service to the community, a resume, study abroad if applicable, internship if completed, a page of outside interests, and at least one course page that documents your reflections. Creating an e-portfolio provides a number of benefits: improve your skills in creating web pages using Google Sites, maintain a professional online presence, apply the concepts of privacy and copyright, and make others aware of the unique talents and skills that you have!

Below are a series of suggested steps to help guide you through developing your e-portfolio.

Step 1 - Read through the slide show presentation below.

Although the presentation is titled Teacher Education E-portfolios, concepts apply to any major. This presentation defines an e-portfolio, shows its value in integrating "isolated islands of knowledge" including information and skills and acquired outside the classroom, lists goals for students and what they acquire, and explains the importance of reflection and student ownership.

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Step 2: Carefully browse through and take note of a variety of student e-portfolios

For a listing of Elmira College student e-portfolios go to http://sites.elmira.edu/portfolio/students . Please note that these e-portfolios provide opportunities to not only appreciate student-owned work but also to provide ideas on what you might include in your web site. On the other hand, your e-portfolio is your creation and is thus unique. Below are two examples from the list.



International Studies and Political Science: http://sites.elmira.edu/amoore10portfolio

Step 3 - Prepare by collecting and selecting your best work

  • Collect artifacts of your work (e.g. PowerPoint presentations, research projects, lesson plans, essays, and other documents that demonstrate your mastery of subject matter related to your major and interests).
  • Take your photograph (optional), create PDF documents from original artifacts such as Word resumes and papers, search Internet Web sites for your links page, and write a draft of your personal statement.
  • Images, mp3 sound recordings, and QuickTime movies should be optimized for Web publishing. Take advantage of the computers in the Multimedia Resource Lab that provide software, special purpose hardware, and quickstart guides to create and convert images, sounds, animation, and movies.
  • Have students, faculty, and staff review your portfolio and give you feedback.
Step 4 - General Suggestions

Creating and Naming Your Site - We suggest that you name your site as follows with this convention: username (e.g. mtwain12) and enter e-portfolio in the Category box. In the Site description box enter Your name followed by "E-portfolio".

Design -
Pages in your e-portfolio look best when they include text, images as appropriate (images should be added to web pages when they are relevant to the descriptive text), hyperlinks when applicable, and one (or more) instance of multimedia as defined below. Choose and customize a template that is navigable and easy-to-read.

Sharing - When sharing your e-portfolio, make sure that it is immediately available to your selected audience as readers (Can View). You can make the site available to the College community: Elmira College (people at Elmira College can find and access) and based on your preference to a wider audience: Public on the Web (anyone on the Internet can view).

Professionalism - Before you create your online e-portfolio think about your audience and what the Web site's purpose is. You learn much in developing your site and provide value by sharing its content with others. A professional e-portfolio should include cohesive writing that demonstrates attention to sound grammar and is free of spelling errors.

Privacy and Copyright - You should be aware of your privacy and be conscious of the information you share but above all respect the privacy and copyright of others. Remember that your Web site will be available within the @elmira.edu domain. If you publish your e-portfolio to the Internet (public on the web), then the information is searchable and accessible by anyone. You should not include private information such as your social security number, home address, phone number, and date of birth on any public Web page, including attached documents. Your professional e-portfolio is a showcase of your best work, writing, and artifacts. Readers expect that the content is yours. On occasion when you may want to add external media (that is not your own work) that provides meaning to your web site, consider resources such as Creative Commons and be sure to credit the source. Refer to this page for an explanation of Creative Commons and some resources: http://sites.elmira.edu/helpdesk/creative-commons.   

Media - To enhance your e-portfolio include original media such as digital photographs, screenshots, (e.g. of a Wordle), screencasts, and scanned drawings, recorded audio or video. Again, the media should have relevance and meaning to what you are writing or describing

Gadgets - You have the opportunity to insert Gadgets (Choose from the Insert menu and refer to the Google gadgets to the right such as Calendar, Chart, Picasa Web slide show, Google slide show and spreadsheet) to add interactivity to your pages. In most cases you will not need to refer to More gadgets.  When inserting Google Docs as a Gadget (e.g. Document, Spreadsheet), the original document must be shared as Viewable by @elmira.edu for it be to be seen within your web page.

Step 5 - Suggested Pages in Your E-Portfolio

Pages make up the content of you e-portfolio and can be organized to meet your specific needs. Page names and topics will vary depending on your major, interests, how you organize materials, and the overall theme of your e-portfolio.

Home Page - Your home page is the landing page that viewers will see first when they go to your site's address . The page typically include the purpose of your portfolio and entice readers to navigate through other pages in your site. The format should be uncluttered and visually appealing. Adding images is always a plus! We suggest inserting a photograph of yourself in a professional working environment (e.g. working on a lab experiment, assisting a student troubleshoot their PC).  Add hyperlinks and gadgets - IF they relate and have meaning.

Contact - A simple contact page that includes only information that you wish to share with the College community (e.g. name and @elmira.edu e-mail address). Although you may want to include other public presences (e.g. your Twitter handler), we suggest not including personal phone numbers and addresses.

Personal Statement - Your personal statement or philosophy is considered a thoughtful and carefully written essay about you. As you write your statement for your readers think about what is important to you, how you view the world, and what your future goals are. Keep in mind that you are writing your personal statement as a professional.

Experience - In this page include on campus and off campus work experience, research, presentations at conferences, and internship. These experiences usually relate to your academic and professional development. Consider adding your on campus or off campus work experience as part of your Experience page(s).

Professional Development - As an option you may want to include a separate page for professional development such as participating in certified workshops, participating or presenting at conferences, and completing non-credit courses.

Community Service - Include a narrative of your Freshmen Community Service experience, again thinking about your audience. For example, confidential information that is privy to the organization should not be shared with the @elmira.edu or public community. Consider adding photographs and relevant links to enhance your page.

Study Abroad - If you have studied abroad in another country or region of the U.S. as part of a Term III course, you have the opportunity to relate and connect your experiences. For example, your personal statement could include your mastery of a foreign language or understanding of a new culture and how it relates to your global outlook. There is a synergy between an Elmira College liberal arts education and experience abroad.

Resume - Create a web page named Resume and attach a PDF of your document. Link to this PDF in your page. Please consult with Career Services who have considerable expertise in assisting with writing your resume. Refer to this page to get started, which includes the Resume Starter Kit: http://www.elmira.edu/campus/resources_and_services/career/Resume_and_Cover_Letter

Activities - Your involvement in Elmira College co-curricular activities such as athletics, clubs, organization, and participating in special campus events help develop leadership, time management, teamwork, interpersonal communication, and other skills that employers value when making hiring choices. These experiences and activities outside of the classroom are directly related to your career development.

Major and Coursework - Create a List page template that includes all coursework relevant to your major(s) and minor(s). The list should include the Course Name, Credits, Term Taken, and a brief description. It should be obvious what your major is so you may want to include an introduction on the List page.

Reflections on Course(s)Create a journal of reflections on at least one of your courses using Google Sites' Announcement template. In this template you create a series of posts by using the New post button for each entry in your journal, which is similar to an online blog. Keep in mind that Google Site's Commenting is only available to owners and collaborators and not available to viewers.

Links - You can impress your readers by creating a page of links related to your professional work. Short descriptions provide interesting information and an opportunity to explore further by visiting the actual web site.

Samples - As part of your portfolio you may want to create a samples page specifically for your academic and co-curricular work including papers, presentations, videos, audio recordings, and slideshows. However, you could also incorporate these materials into other pages such as Experience, Study Abroad, and Activities. The choice is up to you!

Documents - Your documents page is a central repository of your e-portfolio artifacts such as papers, lesson plans, presentations, and audio recordings. You create a special Google Sites File Cabinet page based on a predefined template and upload document files to this page such as resumes, papers, and presentations. However, you could also incorporate these materials into other pages such as Experience, Study Abroad, and Activities. The choice is up to you!

Step 6 - Review, Revision, and Evaluation

Although your e-portfolio is ultimately a creative accomplishment that you own, constructive feedback from others such as faculty, staff, and your peers is often essential in improving your work. Constantly reviewing and revising your e-portfolio based on feedback provides the best opportunity for refining your e-portfolio and making it a success.

Showcase - The best e-portfolios will be showcased on the Elmira College e-portfolio site: http://sites.elmira.edu/portfolio as a model for the College community.

E-Portfolio Learning Objectives

  • Read through other student portfolios to help formulate ideas for your own e-portfolio.
  • Design a visual, easily readable web site that includes intuitive navigation, hyperlinks, images, and media.
  • Develop a comprehensive e-portfolio that clearly demonstrates your accomplishments: academics courses, community service, internship and other experiences, co-curricular activities, and study abroad.
  • Demonstrate professional and substantive writing to a large audience.
  • Apply the concepts of copyright and privacy to all pages in your site.
  • Maintain a journal of reflections.
  • Enhance your technology skills by applying web site design and organization, file management, multimedia, and hyperlinking.