An Important Partnership

It’s no secret that we, in the E-Learning Office, love working with students. Faculty, we love you too, obviously… but you have to admit that working with students is super fun.

Two weeks ago Megan, one of our Instructional Designers, had the opportunity to attend and present at the annual conference for the Atlantic Association of College and University Student Services (AACUSS) held at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, New Brunswick.


AACUSS is a wonderful organization that connects college and university Student Affairs professionals in the Atlantic Canada region. The annual conference serves as an opportunity to connect with counterparts at neighbouring institutions and encourage and promote professional and ethical practices in Student Services.

The obvious question at this point is: why is an E-Learning Instructional Designer attending a conference for Student Affairs professionals? Well, that’s a good question.

Those amazing people that work in Student Affairs and Services are the people that keep our students at the centre of what we do. As an Instructional Designer, it’s so easy to get caught up in the how of teaching that it’s easy to forget the why and the who of what we do. By making efforts to remain current in the issues facing the students on our campuses, we’re doing our best to ensure the courses we work on are designed with student learning at the centre.

The AACUSS conference kicked off with a pre-conference about assessment. Now, we spend a lot of time in the ELO thinking about assessment. This pre-conference workshop provided a great opportunity to reconsider our program assessment processes and set some new targets for our programs and services.

The conference schedule offered several concurrent sessions to learn more about programs and services at other institutions, current research in Student Affairs, and issues and trends in Student Services in Higher Education. Megan co-facilitated a session on Universal Design for Learning that explored UDL as a framework for designing programs and services to facilitate student success. The resources from the workshop can be viewed at this link:

The highlight of this conference was receiving an AACUSS Special Project Grant, which is a grant awarded to members to develop new programs or services related to issues in student services. In collaboration with Accessibility Services in UPEI Student Affairs, we applied for a grant to develop a series of OERs on the topic of Universal Design for Learning. With these OERs, we intend on building a training program for staff and faculty that can be used at UPEI and by our colleagues across the region.

Awards 1

Megan with Cathy Rose, Coordinator of Accessibility Services, UPEI and Sara Rothman, AACUSS Past President.

Finally, as a result of attending this conference, we are entering a new partnership with UPEI Student Affairs to develop a new workshop series for faculty on student-centred course design. We are looking forward to updating you on this series as it is developed. We are hoping to pilot some of the workshops this fall and are excited to get your feedback!

There is no question that our connection with UPEI Student Affairs is an important one. Our attendance at the AACUSS annual conference is just one of the things to do to make an effort to remain up to date on the current issues facing our campuses. We are truly grateful for the opportunity to remain connected with our students through our relationships and collaborations with student affairs professionals at UPEI

To all of our colleagues across campus who are busy advising, recruiting, planning programs, training student leaders, debriefing, reflecting, and supporting: thank you for all of the work you do to to create a safe and supportive learning environment for our students!

What is Digital Literacy? An Abridged Twitter Chat

On April 8th, @digpedlab hosted a Twitter chat about digital literacy. I participated and saw some great thoughts and conversations take place and I thought I’d try to make something that would let others see what I’ve seen and put out an invite for you to join in on future #digped tweetchats or the Digital Pedagogy Lab Summer Institute in Prince Edward Island this July.

If you’re not familiar with a tweetchat, it’s a largely synchronous but chaotic conversation that takes place on Twitter. Participants mark their messages with a tag, in this case #digped, to let others find and respond to their comments without having to have known or be following the person beforehand. When you include a tag in your tweet, it lets people who are searching that particular tag to see your tweet, they can also respond to that tweet as well.

This means that you might coordinate a conversation on Twitter with people you know, or people who regularly participate in a particular tag, but others may stumble across your conversation and be able to offer their own perspective and responses.

In the poster below are some highlights of the conversation made of little speech bubbles, the person who made the statement is identified by their twitterhandle or online pseudonym right beneath the speech bubble. Bubbles that are touching are responses to each other, whereas ones by themselves are replying to the overall question of the section.

What is Digital Literacy

If you’re interested in using Twitter, send an email to us at


Why is it important to save your stuff? An introduction to archive portfolios

We spend most of our time blogging for faculty. But dear students, this one is for you!

… well, archive portfolios and the importance of keeping your work is relevant to faculty and staff as well. So let me revise that statement:

Dear students everyone who has ever or will ever produce work, this one is for you!

As we already know from our previous discussions on our blog, there are many different situations that you might use an ePortfolio. If you are applying for a job, you could develop an ePortfolio based on the qualifications and job requirements. In this context, you would choose artifacts from your best work that demonstrates the necessary knowledge and skills to succeed in the job. If you are trying to demonstrate growth or learning in a particular area, you could use an ePortfolio in which you choose artifacts that demonstrate growth, change, or mastery in a specific set of competencies.

Maybe you don’t have a specific event, but you want something online to build some online identity – something that pops up when someone Googles you. In this case, you might build a general ePortfolio in a personal website, blog, or LinkedIn profile.

The content, format, and location of your ePortfolio should always be driven by your audience. Considering your audience will help you make decisions about how you represent your knowledge, skills, and experience in a way that is accessible and relevant to your audience.

ePortfolios are great. We can talk at length about why you should use them. (And we will. If you want to chat about using ePortfolios, contact the E-Learning Office!)

The biggest complaint we get about ePortfolios is that people don’t realize how awesome they are until it’s too late. By the time they realize how amazing it would be to use an ePortfolio, they no longer have some really important artifacts from school, work, and life.

Enter: the archive portfolio.

An archive portfolio is a space where you keep, organize, and reflect on your experiences. The biggest difference between your archive portfolio and your career, developmental, or assessment portfolios is that an archive portfolio has no audience. It’s a space for you to keep track of your stuff, which makes it infinitely easier to build other types of ePortfolios down the road.

While there are many strategies for organizing your archive, here is an overview of a strategy we like, using Google Drive:

Create a Google Drive folder

It’s no secret that we, in the ELO, love Google Drive. But you can easily use whatever you like for storage including Dropbox, Evernote, or a simple external hard drive. Remember that we are dealing with your artifacts here, so whatever strategy you use, don’t forget to back it up! One great tool we use (all the time!) is IFTTT (If This Then That). There are many recipes on there for connecting different apps. You could use IFTTT to sync your archive portfolio folder from Google Drive to Dropbox, so you’ll always have a backup.

(We recognize that we just dropped a lot of stuff on you there, so get in touch if you need some help setting up your archive!)

Future blog post idea: some of our favourite IFTTT recipes! We’ll work on it… stay tuned!

Create subfolders based on competencies (or year, or experience, or…)

The majority of ePortfolios we use are competency-based, where you are trying to demonstrate a specific skill or set of skills. For this reason, we think it’s easier to organize your artifacts by competency. That said, if you prefer to think chronologically or some other way, organize your artifacts in any way that makes it easy for you to navigate. Remember, the purpose of your archive portfolio is to make it easier for you!

Create a master artifact spreadsheet

We like to use a spreadsheet to house all of the details about each of our potential artifacts. In this spreadsheet you could include artifact title, where it is located (and a link if it is online!), your reflections on the experience, and connections to other artifacts/experiences.

Keeping this spreadsheet is important. It helps facilitate the creation of your next ePortfolio, because the work of collecting your potential artifacts and connecting artifacts to competencies is already done. At that point, it is simply a matter of scanning your spreadsheet and choosing the best artifacts for your ePortfolio audience.

To help you get started, we’ve created a Google Sheets template with a few different possible formats. Feel free to make a copy and edit it to meet your needs!

Archive portfolio artifact master – template

Save everything!

And we mean everything.

Obviously, you will save things like papers, assignments, projects, presentations, and feedback. But consider what else you could use to demonstrate your knowledge and skills. In-class work, workshops, events, programs… snap a photo or jot down some observations. Capture anything that you could possibly use to provide evidence of your experiences.

You have unlimited storage in your UPEI Google Drive, so keep it all!

We love ePortfolios. We would love to help you figure out how you might use your ePortfolio. Get in touch with us with your questions!

UDL Week 4: UDL Toolkit

Yesterday was our UDL workshop, and we think it was pretty swell. This was the first step in many conversations to be had about inclusion and diversity at UPEI.

We want to take this opportunity to share a couple of UDL resources on our blog. As we build our community of practice, we plan in building out UDL knowledge base, but for now, visit our slides. The last few slides contain some resources and references to help you get started with UDL.

Check out our slides here:

Thank you for joining us on this #UPEIUDL journey this week! But the conversation doesn’t have to end here! Let us know if you are interested in finding a way to keep the discussion going.

What is a Professional Portfolio

The UPEI Career and Summer Job Fair is running today, so we thought it’d be a great day to talk about building a professional portfolio!

A professional portfolio is a presentation of your artifacts and reflections that you’ve collected and organized to demonstrate your relevant qualifications. It’s a great way to provide concrete examples of your skills and experiences.

An artifact is a piece of your work, it might be an award you’ve won, it might be a creative work you’ve made, or even a class assignment you’re proud of. In your portfolio you present your artifacts and reflect on them, why should the employer be interested in this artifact? What lessons have you learned from it, what tools did you use, what skills are on display?

For a professional portfolio you should start with the job posting. Every professional portfolio should be tailored to each job posting as different employers will be emphasizing different qualifications and will use different language. Ask yourself what skills and experiences are the employer looking for? You can take these qualifications and use them to layout your sections in your portfolio and then begin selecting and sorting your artifacts.

When writing your reflections, or providing context to your artifacts, remember that the audience for your professional portfolio is the employer. Make sure that you’re writing in the professional style that you would use for your cover letter, and pay attention to the language used in the job posting. While this is an opportunity to flesh out your fit for the role, make sure to be concise.

The process of building your professional portfolio is also a great exercise for you. For example, your professional portfolio is an excellent study tool for your interview. As you select your best artifacts for the application, you’re helping find specific examples of your qualifications that you can discuss confidently in an interview.

After you’ve finished your portfolio, always get someone else to review it before you send it to the employer.

If you have any questions about building your professional portfolios, feel free to contact, if you’re a faculty member looking to bring professional portfolios into your courses contact