Welcome to the MPortfolio Getting Started Guide. This guide is intended to help you throughout your electronic portfolio development process. Follow the modules below for an introduction to what makes an effective eportfolio, including:
- Why develop an eportfolio
- Identifying your audience
- Writing your philosophy, vision, and goals
- Reflecting on and integrating your knowledge and experience
- Incorporating evidence, artifacts, and varied experience
- Designing a functional and beautiful eportfolio
- Developing your professional digital identity
- Understanding the outcomes of your learning
Why Develop an ePortfolio?
An ePortfolio is a valuable tool to assist in your development as a learner. It can be a personal journal, a rockin’ interactive resume, a showcase of your best work and anything in-between.
- makes learning visible
- builds reflective habits
- fosters intentionality
- supports integration
Typical portfolios include the following:
- Philosophy Statement
- Vision and goals
- Artifacts/evidence of learning/works
Before considering what content you want in your ePortfolio, you should first decide who your audience will be. Are you doing this for a class? for a community organization? for a future employer? for yourself? Depending on how you answer this question will determine what content you put into it.
Consider Your Audience
- Academic — Focus on the aspects assessed by the instructor. Usually these are heavy on the evidence of learning and reflection.
- Community — Community organizations want to see themselves through your portfolio. Your reflections may want to center around the topics most relevant to the community organization you are partnering with.
- Employer — Employers love examples of your work, current projects you are working on and, of course, a resume/C.V. with options of connecting.
- Personal — This is totally free game. Usually personal ePortfolios are all about self-reflection<link> but this might also be an opportunity for you to explore your goals and vision <link>. You might also use this space to post inspiring messages and aspirations.
Establish the purpose of your portfolio. Ask yourself questions that can generate a sense of who the best audience for the portfolio might be.
- What is the major purpose of the portfolio?
- Who will be needed to plan the portfolio around this purpose?
- How will the portfolio be used?
- Who will have access to the portfolio during the process?
- Who will have access to the portfolio after the process?
Philosophy, Vision, and Goals
A philosophy, vision and goal statement are important items to include in your MPortfolio because they give the viewer a sense of your skills, values and core capacities.
- Your philosophy statement addresses the question, “why do I do what I do?” or “why do I want to do what I want to do?”
- Your vision is the embodiment of your philosophy—it is how you plan to enact and live into your values.
- Your goals are the tangible benchmarks or tasks that will enable you to accomplish your vision. Consider having both SMART as well as aspirational goals.
One of the best ways to begin writing a philosophy or vision statement is to focus on your values or key learning experiences. Begin by circling the words that you would use to best express your values:
- others? add them here:
- environmentally conscious
After completing this yourself, reach out to a colleague, friend, or family member who might be able to speak to your values. Have them circle the words that they would use to describe your values (sometimes it helps if you tell them a story about a time you accomplished something). Then compare your list to theirs:
- Are any values included on both lists?
- Do any of the values they chose surprise you?
- If you had to rate your values, which would be your top three?
Using the values you and others identified, now you can begin to build a statement that incorporates your values to address the underlying reasons why you do what you do.
Reflection and Integration
The reflection process and the integration of academics with outside the classroom work is what makes ePortfolios special. Think for a moment about a time where you reflected on an experience, either by journaling about it or discussing it with colleagues/friends. Did you find that you remembered it better because you did this practice? The reflective process can help frame your learning process and personal work to help narrate your story.
Reflection builds in meaningful connection to learning. According to Dewey, education is a “reconstruction or reorganization of experience, which adds to the meaning of experience.” Reflective learning is a process through which you make sense of new experiences in relation to yourself, your environment, and a continuum of previous and subsequent experiences. Reflection makes learning visible to the learner, making it available for connecting and deepening. (source)
Post-reflection, you can integrate your learning to make connections and transfer knowledge across courses, disciplines, and semesters linking academics and real-world experiences. It is good to include works from multiple contexts, to consider the relation between classrooms and life outside of class. Include your extracurriculars, co-curriculars and academic work. Let the eportfolio be a full representation of you.
Write a letter to your future self. Imagine you’re writing to yourself, years from now. What do you want to say to your future self? Think about the type of person you will be, your place in life, what you would have accomplished then, the kind of thoughts and feelings you will experience, and so on. What do you want your future self to be like?
What are the different dreams and goals you would want to be realized by then? What do you hope to be doing or have achieved with respect to your education, career, or community? What specific steps will you need to take or obstacles will you need to overcome to achieve these goals? Remind your future self of what you learned in your time in college and think about what else you may want to do to reach your goals academically.
Evidence, Artifacts, and Experiences
Share a class project, a prized essay, event you planned for an internship or a prototype you developed. An ePortfolio includes evidence of your learning and development—sometimes in various stages of development or sometimes only the finished product. The evidence itself illustrates what you were able to to do and requires framing and reflections to show how and why the evidence, artifact, or experience is important.
When writing these reflective framing pieces, consider the following:
- Overview / Context - What did I do? With whom? When and where?
- Why is the artifact or experience important?
- What did I learn from the experience / process? What skills did I gain?
- What challenges did I face? How did I overcome them?
- What impact did I have on others?
- How has the experience impacted or changed me? What do I do differently as a result?
- What are my next steps (revisions, opportunities for further growth, etc.)?
Source: Fitch, D., Peet, M., Reed, B. G., & Tolman, R. (2008). The use of ePortfolios in evaluating the curriculum and student learning. Journal of social work education, 44(3), 37-54.
An example of an artifact some students choose to include on their eportfolio is a wordle. A wordle is a text-generated cloud that gives greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in a source text. Go to Wordle.net, click on the “create” link, where it says “paste a bunch of text,” paste text from your drafted philosophy, vision statement or other form of work. Then hit “go”. You wordle image should appear and you can use it as a way to generate ideas or post on your ePortfolio as a way to compliment the text it was inspired from.
Other Content and Examples
There are countless ways to customize your ePortfolio. Below are some ways students have shared content as well as examples of student work.
- welcome / introduction - a simple one or two sentence introduction is always effective. Some students choose to begin their ePortfolio with a quote or photo, which would also be appropriate.
- multimedia - got a great video of a working prototype or an audio clip from an interview you’re proud of? Share it on your ePortfolio!
- personal brand statement - Do you have a mantra you live by or a career goal you’re willing to share? This can make you stand out when sharing your ePortfolio with employers.
- CV / resume / LinkedIn - If sharing your ePortfolio with employers, make sure to include a CV, resume or link to an updated LinkedIn page.
- RSS feeds / social media - If you’re willing to share your photos, thoughts, or social media with others, this can also be included on your ePortfolio.
In addition to well-written content and thoughtful reflections, the functionality, design, and aesthetics of an eportfolio impact how it is read and evaluated.
- Fonts - use fonts that are simple and easy to read. Be consistent and use no more than two fonts across your entire site.
- Color - Try to select colors that compliment your personality and content. You can use shades, complementary, compound, triad or other color combinations. Use the resource of Adobe Color CC for inspiration.
- Images - Try to use images that can augment the text of your ePortfolio. The MLibrary maintains a great image research guide.
- Themes - Depending on the platform you use, you may have an option to select themes. In general, find a simple theme that relates to your area of study. You want to ensure that the theme is compatible with all browsers and it helps if it can be adapted to fit mobile screens.
- Interactivity - Most importantly, remember that you are creating a story for viewers of your ePortfolio so interactivity should lead viewers back to your strengths, goals and artifacts.
Basic Design Principles
- Contrast - Words or phrases in your ePortfolio might be more important than others. Using contrast to help those words stand out (maybe by bolding them) can help a person gain an understanding in a glance.
- Repetition - Being consistent across pages (using same colors, similar images, etc.) can help build your brand and give the viewer a sense that you are well put together and organized.
- Alignment - Nothing should look like it is placed somewhere randomly. Everything should feel like it has a purpose and alignment helps you do this.
- Proximity - The eye chooses to group things that are close together. If you have similar topics you showcase on your ePortfolio, place them close together. If they are different, try spreading them apart or inserting a line to separate them.
- Non-Designers Design Book, 4th Ed. by Robin Williams (U-M authentication required; MLibrary proxy)
Developing Your Professional Digital Identity
Your eportfolio is a prominent piece of your online presence, but it is often not the only piece. It is part of the personal/professional brand you are building and representing on a variety of social media networks and platforms, such as:
It is up to you how you want to represent yourself on these different platforms. Things to keep in mind:
- Maintain consistent messaging across profiles and platforms, especially those that you are using in your job search or come up when you Google yourself.
- Use your eportfolio as the “home base” for the different pieces of your digital identity—e.g. include badges you’ve earned, a link to your LinkedIn profile, embed your Twitter feed, etc. (as appropriate for your audience).
The image you present online should be in alignment with the image you present in person.
(1-2 concise sentences)—sums up your professional presence in… your professional “thesis statement.” Something you could memorize and share on the spot in any context—at a networking event, an interview, or a family gathering. You can use it across your social media profiles to build a cohesive message about who you are and what your care about.
(200 words)—the core of who you are, what you value, and how you plan to live into those values. Provides clarity for you and others about what you care about, why, and what you plan to do about it. This likely is a synthesized version of your philosophy and vision statements.
To Post... Or Not to Post
→ consider the multiple audiences that could access your online content—from friends and family members, to professors, to potential employers. While a potential employer might not be the primary audience for a post about a cause you’re committed to or a concert you attended, keep in mind that they might come across it if they Google your name.