On May 16th, 2019 students, faculty and staff gathered for the bi-annual ePortfolio Student Showcase. This event was an opportunity for members of the College community to not only view outstanding student work, but also to hear more about students’ reflections and experiences using ePortfolio.
This year, participants from a variety of majors, including Fine Arts, Occupational Therapy, Liberal Arts: Social Science and Humanities, and Criminal Justice shared how the digital learning space and academic work translates into a coherent journey of self-authorship and academic development.
Eric Hofmann, Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs and Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning introduced the student presenters who shared their work in a carousel format. The smaller and more intimate presentations allowed student presenters to feel more comfortable to share their interests, goals, career plans, and course assignments.
One presenter, Liberal Arts: Social Science and Humanities major Somi Ahmed, shared that “connections from ePortfolio changed my understanding and my career route, and it made me more prepared and confident.” Somi is an example of a student who not only makes connections across learning experiences in the ePortfolio but is also gradually building confidence to share her academic journey with others.
Somi is the first graduate of both tracks of the ePortfolio Scholars Program. Additionally, she is a graduate of the Tech Scholars Program and the America Needs You initiative. While learning about these programs through ePortfolio, Somi became more involved with her academic community, and her story is an example of how successful praxis of academic ePortfolio underscores a sense of self-assurance, pride, and authorship of one’s education.
Another student presenter, Fine Arts major Stephen Blake presented his graphic illustrations and his portfolio of art projects including book illustrations, logos, and product designs. Stephen began working on his ePortfolio under the guidance of Professor Jessica Boehman. Stephen’s work demonstrates the potential of ePortfolio as a vehicle of self-expression. During his presentation, Stephen showcased how design and content come together to express a unique sense of individuality. For example, many pages in his ePortfolio resemble 1990s-era video game design accompanied by a retro soundtrack; illustrating Stephen’s passion for graphic design.
Since rolling out the new ePortfolio interface in Fall 2017, students have more tools to personalize, customize, and build visually powerful ePortfolios turning reflective practices into authentic and creative evidence of learning. Customization of content is now intuitive and allows for a great degree of artistic freedom. The ePortfolios at the Showcase event illustrated that when ePortfolio practice is done well, all these parts come together to emphasize a sense of authorship, college preparedness, digital competence and a clear sense of this is who I am, what I am learning and this is where I am going.
This critical assessment happens while students enjoy fitting pieces of their academic puzzle together. Between a reflection on their time management activity or their discussion about an essay for an English class, students often ask, “why ePortfolio?” Events like the ePortfolio Showcase help communicate its potential and role in the educational journey to the larger academic community, to students themselves and to us as ePortfolio practitioners.