It is Saturday afternoon and I am taking a break from my dissertation isolation wondering how many other graduate students experience such moments when one feels so intense the need to just reach out. I think all graduate students do and as David Brook pointed out in his recent article “Should graduate students create e-portfolios?” we find ways to escape: we Facebook, tweet, post or check blogs, or even upload on you-tube.
But are we really present in the web as graduate students and future professionals? Could e-portfolios help graduate students establish a virtual identity? This post aims to explain how graduate students can begin creating an e- portfolio and the resources available at Penn State to help you develop one.
During our “graduate careers” we work diligently inside cubicles, teach behind closed classroom doors, participate in research teams, spend days and nights in labs, tutor students during office hours, complete internships and spend breaks doing field work around the world. But how do we share the experiences, skills and knowledge we accumulate? How do we record our growth? Are the published research papers, scholarly articles and conference presentations representative of all the hard work we have done during our “graduate careers”? I do not think so and that is exactly the reason I agree with Mr. Brook: Graduate students should create e-portfolios to start establishing a virtual professional presence and positioning themselves in a field beyond what the standard blurb on a CV or Resume communicates about them.
Creating an e-portfolio: The process
Electronic portfolios are dynamic and sustainable tools that allow a graduate student to be creative, reflective and collaborative. Developing an e-portfolio involves several steps in which graduate students:
1. Collect material and evidence of their work and professional growth in various formats (i.e., audio, video, images, and text).
2. Reflect analytically and critically on the importance and contribution of these documents and materials to their professional expertise, future goals and the purpose of the portfolio.
3. Organize the materials and resources in a way that highlight the goals, knowledge, skills, abilities and professionalism of a graduate student. Adopting a theme for your portfolio can make it cohesive and the theme serves as a point of reference for everything included in the portfolio.
4. Request feedback from mentors and peers about your e-portfolio.
5. Revise the portfolio regularly. Set a portfolio hour where you can meet with other peers for a monthly maintenance of your e-portfolio.
6. Monitor their progress by using the e-portfolio during meetings with the advisor or for their yearly review to become more active in their assessment process.
7. Collaborate with other individuals inside and outside of the field through the use of blogging, social networking or other comment functions available on e-portfolio platforms to create a presence in a research or pedagogical community and position their work within the community.
So graduate students, the take home message is begin crafting your virtual identity. Search committees may currently simply browsing the e-portfolios of applicants who provide a web-link to their portfolio on their CV but someday, soon I hope, we will not have to spent money and paper in submitting countless job application envelops, or even emailing or dropping application materials on several websites. It is about time for the job hunt to become more green and efficient and graduate students can be the change agents by starting to create their professional online profiles.
My effort to create an e-portfolio has made me more self-aware, self-confident and gave my work more direction because I had to organize, synthesize, reflect and evaluate the work that I have done so far in graduate school and articulate my future professional goals. I was fortunate enough to share my experience and knowledge about e-portfolios at workshops and at a conference for faculty developers and e-portfolios definitely gain ground both in higher education and in the professional world outside academia.
e-portfolios at Penn State
E-portfolios are more rich and authentic when graduate students begin creating them early on during graduate school rather than portfolios put together when one is going to the job market. Here at Penn State students have resources to draw on to help them do that. Penn State has a blog-based publishing platform (e-portfolios at Penn State) available for free to any graduate student or postdoctoral fellow who wants to build an e-portfolio. In addition, graduate consultants at Penn State’s Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence have created an online recourse (http://siteeportfolio.weebly.com/) for graduate students who would like to build an e-portfolio. This online resource contains information about the contents of an e-portfolio along with examples. A blog is also active in the site where graduate consultants post updates on topics relevant to e-portfolios. Scroll down to the welcoming post to see other platforms available besides the Penn State e-portfolio platform. Consultants at the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence can help you conceptualize your portfolio and provide feedback about the contents of the portfolio such as your teaching philosophy and your student evaluations.
If you would like to learn more about graduate student e-portfolios attend one of the upcoming workshops at the Schreyer Institute on Documenting Your Teaching (soon available on the Schreyer Institute website) or schedule a consultation by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
I would like to thank once more the instructional consultants and the staff at the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence for a unique educational, mentoring and employment experience that I had during graduate school. My interest in e-portfolios grew as part of my work as a graduate student consultant and I hope that I will be able to continue this work as a faculty developer.
Andria Antiliou is a PhD Candidate in Educational Psychology and a
Graduate Student Affiliate at The Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence.
Originally posted on December 3rd, 2011. How to cite a blog post.