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13.4 Creating an E-portfolio

Learning Objectives

  1. Recognize that many aspects of a hard-copy portfolio are applicable to an online portfolio.
  2. Understand situations that are unique to online portfolios.
  3. Choose components to create your portfolio.

Just a few years ago, a portfolio, or collection of your work, would most likely have been a collection of printed papers arranged in a file folder or hand-bound into a booklet. Today you are more likely to create an e-portfolioA collection of work in digital format, usually accessible to others online., a digital collection of your work that is usually accessible to others online. Whether paper or digital, the purpose of a portfolio remains for you to showcase and reflect upon your skills.

General Portfolio Guidelines

As with any other kind of communication, base your portfolio planning on your reasons for building one. Run the portfolio through the statement of purpose questions from Chapter 5 "Planning". For example, you might design a portfolio to apply for admission or scholarships to colleges, to apply for a job, to network with other professionals in your field, to complete a school assignment, to collect your artistic work, or to explore a personal interest. The following guidelines are useful for all portfolios, regardless of whether they are designed to meet an academic, professional, aesthetic, or social purpose:

  • Consider carefully your choices of what to include (known as artifactsAn individual piece in a portfolio.) and choose those that showcase the most impressive variety of your skills. If you are a writer, showcase different writing skills or a progression in the development of your writing skills (showing “before” and “after” drafts). If you are a salesperson, showcase different types of sales accomplishments.
  • Keep the number of choices under ten in an employment portfolio so that a prospective employer could reasonably look at all the options. If you have multiple categories, such as writing samples, work accomplishments, and volunteer experiences, you could consider having up to ten items within each category.
  • Read through all the choices to make sure you are 100-percent pleased about the content. Do not rely on memory to tell you that an item is OK to use.
  • Label and date each selection.
  • Create an explanation of each chosen item.
  • Make sure all your selected items are free of errors.
  • Arrange your selections from most to least impressive unless you have a reason to arrange them differently, such as in chronological order, keeping in mind that someone might start through your portfolio and not finish it.

Electronic Portfolio Guidelines

Follow these guidelines to take better advantage of the forms, functions, and features an online environment can bring to portfolios:

  • Create an introductory page with linksA clickable text or image that is placed within digital text and has the ability to reroute you to another location; short for hyperlink. to the other pages. Make sure the introductory page is short enough to minimize scrolling.
  • Consider establishing or incorporating some kind of social presence (perhaps with an appropriate photo or with an audio or video greeting) on the introductory page. Make sure your tone (the relationship between your portfolio’s voice and your audience) achieves an appropriate level of formality, depending on the working relationship you already have with your audience.
  • Include a one-line description of each link as a preintroduction to the portfolio item when you list the links on the introductory page.
  • Choose whether to include multimediaContent made up of more than one medium (e.g., text, images, audio, and video). pieces, such as video and audio clips, depending on the capabilities of the site where you are posting your portfolio.
  • Convert each page or file to a PDF fileA digital file format where all components are locked in place; short for portable document file. or a JPEGA digital image format that is compatible with many software formats; an acronym for Joint Photographic Experts Group. so that you can be assured that the formatting will remain fixed. After you create each PDF file or JPEG, open it to make sure it converted properly.
  • Traverse your e-portfolio thoroughly when you’re finished building it to check out all the links and make sure everything is working and looks OK. Then ask a friend to do the same on a different computer. Ideally you should road test the portfolio from both a PC and a Mac platform. By road testing, you are effectively anticipating your portfolio’s reception (the relationship between your audience and the message you are conveying).
  • Include a link to a self-profile as well as a link to your résumé.
  • Keep your e-portfolio up to date. This task is especially important if your e-portfolio is posted where others can access it without your knowledge.

Key Takeaways

  • The contents and design (or voice) of your portfolio will depend on its message and audience.
  • The general purpose of all portfolios is to showcase your skills, so you should choose your artifacts accordingly.
  • You should carefully read through all pieces of your portfolio to make sure they are free of errors and convey your intended message, so that your portfolio will be received favorably.
  • As a rule, convert all pieces to PDF files or JPEGs so that the format is locked and you can insert them into your portfolio tool.
  • Add multimedia components to your portfolio by incorporating images, videos, and audio clips.
  • Add information about you, including a self-profile and a résumé.
  • When finished building your portfolio, traverse the entire site to ensure all the links are working and everything looks as expected.

Exercises

  1. Say you were going to create an e-portfolio to use in a job search. In order of significance, make a list of ten items you could include.
  2. Say you are going to create an e-portfolio to showcase your educational experiences. Create an introductory page for your e-portfolio.
  3. With your writing group, find five samples of e-portfolios online. Create a compare-and-contrast chart detailing the aspects you like and do not like. Include links to the URLs of the five e-portfolios in the left-hand column of the chart and be prepared to lead the class through a tour of your findings.