The Lane Honors Program begins its fourth year! And as the program continues to develop, so does our work with ePortfolios. The many benefits of these portfolios, including the impact they have on their creators’ critical thinking skills, make them an ideal fit for the Honors Program.
They have also made ePortfolios a central part of their honors writing courses, and they can work with other faculty who are just beginning to explore ePortfolios.
Sarah attended the AAEEBL conference again in July 2014 and gave a presentation, “Reflections on a Pedagogical Chrysalis: Incorporating ePortfolios in My Honors Writing Course.” She writes about this experience in her own ePortfolio. Building on her experiences at the conference, and the knowledge gained and ideas generated there, she launched Lane’s ePortfolio Theory Reading Group. The group is designed to build an ePortfolio community at Lane and is not limited to honors faculty. It will meet twice each term for discussion, and I’m looking forward to the first two readings Sarah has selected: “ePortfolio as a Catalyst for Change in Teaching: An Autoethnographic Examination of Transformation,” by Carson, McClam, Frank, and Hannum (for October) and “Mapping Student Learning Throughout the Collaborative Inquiry Process: The Progressive e-Poster,” by Takayama and Wilson (for November).
I’ll have more posts on ePortfolios over the next several months during what promises to be a very important year for this aspect of our Honors Program.
When we started the Lane Honors Program, then Vice President Sonya Christian had the program pilot student ePortfolios before ePortfolios were rolled out across the college. Each honors student is required to build and continue working with an ePortfolio while in the program. The ePortfolios were intended to showcase the students’ work, thereby acting as additional tiers to their transcripts and resumes; however, we also found other benefits. Several colleagues across campus who had already been researching ePortfolios formed a think tank, and we began to see that ePortfolios had a lot to offer pedagogically.
To augment the think tank’s work, Anne McGrail, Katie Morrison-Graham, Eileen Thompson, and I applied for, and received, Research and Development funds. We also asked Sarah Lushia and Eileen Thompson to be the leads on ePortfolios. They are each building their own portfolios and are teaching students in their honors WR 121_H and WR 122_H classes how to build portfolios, as well. We used the R & D funds to send Sarah and Eileen to the AAEEBL conference in Boston. They returned with a wealth of evidence that ePortfolios are an effective pedagogical tool that is especially useful for teaching critical thinking, one of Lane’s Core Learning Outcomes (CLOs):
Sarah and Eileen also explained that best practice for using ePortfolios in the classroom is for faculty to build and use ePortfolios themselves. I admit I came to this idea somewhat reluctantly if only because I couldn’t imagine finding the time to work on an ePortfolio. With technological assistance from Kevin Steeves and Jen Klaudinyi, however, I did begin building an ePortfolio:
I found that it was useful for me to think through the ways my various interests and projects intersect. I have also been teaching students in the honors seminars to build portfolios and to use them for critical thinking. This winter will be the first time that I’ll use my own portfolio as part of the instruction in the honors seminars. I’ll be writing about that experience and about the Honors Program’s work to encourage honors faculty to incorporate ePortfolios into their teaching in future posts. In the meantime, I’m including the link to my ePortfolio. It is filled with empty pages and pages with little or no reflection, and while I realize that this is not the recommended way to share one’s portfolio, I’m willing to take the risk. It’s my hope that my learning curves for building an ePortfolio, teaching using ePortfolios, and helping administer a program that requires ePortfolios will progress along parallel paths and reflect related moments of learning best made visible by sharing the entire process.