ePortfolios have become an excellent way for college students to present their accomplishments to the world.
Whether it's creating a video for a group project, demonstrating your ability to create a pivot table or showing off a final musical project, the artifacts of what your students create will help showcase their career readiness for future employers, who are more interested than ever in skill-based competency.
But how best to display these accomplishments? The creation of these repositories for student work has become common practice in many college programs. As such, there are many ePortfolio examples to choose from. But if you want to learn how to make an ePortfolio, there is a little more to it.
How To Make An ePortfolio
There are a few key steps to starting any ePortfolio process:
1. Find a platform
When choosing an ePortfolio platform for your university project, there are many nice-to-have items on any wishlist--a user-friendly interface, drag-and-drop tools, support for mobile devices out of the box. But the most important feature is versatility. You want to be able to allow for the seamless addition of a wide variety of file types so that any student can add their best work with ease. That work then needs to be easily disseminated by the user--preferably a well-connected future employer.
Next, the platform should be lightweight and should blend seamlessly into your technology stack. A massive content management system that wants to be the center of your technology universe will create too much distraction and cause too many pains to set up.
But the type of solution you need depends upon the ePortfolios you are trying to build.
2. Decide What Type of ePortfolio is Necessary
There are several types of ePortfolios. Some are simple folders hosted on a private server. Others are full websites. You have to decide which type is right for you and the goals you want students to achieve.
Creating a full website using a drag-and-drop tool like Wix or Squarespace may provide students with experience creating a personal brand, telling their personal story and building a website for the first time. If this is experience you value, this may be a route you can go.
However, some schools may find the setup costs, onboarding and training too onerous.
If you simply need a way for students to showcase their work, there are several ePortfolio tools to choose from that allow students to add different file types in a shareable environment. These students may deliver certain bio and personal brand information within the portfolio, on a companion webpage or elsewhere.
3. Decide What Goes in your ePortfolio
Now we come to the most important part. This can be a tough decision as each student has to decide what their strongest pieces are to display the knowledge they need to show employers.
Here's some quick advice from the job experts at Indeed:
"Use samples that showcase your range of skills. Depending on your profession, your portfolio should include a wide variety of writing samples, photographs, images, project summaries or reports. If you don't have professional experience, consider using work from school, club or volunteer projects."
Suitable's ePortfolio, for example, allows you to add not only your own files, videos, documents and other artifacts; it allows you to include tasks, reflections, events and achievements your students collected during their time in your program. Schools that use the Co-Curricular Transcript feature can also take advantage of a wide variety of customized reports that students can add to tell their story in a more complete way.
Best Practices: Make Your ePortfolio Stand Out
1. Put your best foot forward
The career placement experts at Robert Half recommend, when choosing samples for an ePortfolio, to leave out any samples that are more than five years old and to select a group of samples that focus on your core strength for the role and the company you are reaching out to. It is important to be selective as employers will not review all samples in a portfolio.
A look at Suitable's ePortfolio.
Once you have your samples, you want to make sure you test your ePortfolio on both desktop and mobile. Check for these things listed below:
- All information must be legible, free of errors and include key information, including who you are and where to contact you.
- All information must be able to be read clearly on both desktop and mobile devices.
- The load speeds of your portfolio must not create unnecessary delays. Run speed tests to ensure your portfolio loads in a reasonable amount of time, even from a phone.
- Make sure all images are clear and sharp. Check for blurry or low-res images and replace with crisp, high-res versions.
2. Try This Four-Step Method
In the higher education space, ePortfolios can be used to enter the career world, apply for graduate school or even become a professor. So how can students create a more versatile portfolio?
Higher ed researchers recommend the following framework:
- Collect – Collect, save and keep organized all artifacts from your studies or individual learning experiences that you believe will have value. Collect a wide range of artifacts to show the full scope of what you can do across a variety of mediums. While in this stage, become a collector--label your entries, add notes and timestamps so it is very clear what is of value in each sample.
- Select – Not all items need to be public to all people. Select specific items that clearly display skill competency or student development. Identify which pieces connect with which of your skills and select a range of pieces that show your different skills. And, as was recommended above, you probably want to leave out anything too out-of-date.
- Reflect – Update notes so you are clear on exactly how each item reflects development in your learning. This will allow you to more effectively speak to its inclusion in your portfolio.
- Connect – While performing the Reflect piece, it is important to identify connections that users should observe across your portfolio items--how do they connect? What does their connective tissue display about you?
3. Share It With The World
No matter how you make an ePortfolio, what's most important is that people can find it or you can easily share it with them. So it is important to know, before you start building your portfolio or selecting a platform, that you identify how it will be shared.
For example, how strong are the SEO and Social Media tools on that website builder you are considering? Can sites easily be found using the student's name on search engines?
If your platform creates a folder or uses an app (like Suitable does), does your ePortfolio have a shareable link so students can place their portfolio on popular search engines like Facebook or Linkedin?
Paying attention (and ensuring your students are paying attention) to these critical details will ensure your students create impactful portfolios that will open doors for them now and into the future.
For more information, check out the Co-Curricular Transcript Product Showcase!