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!

Video Basics

Last week we looked into the world of UDL (universal design for learning) with Megan MacKenzie, one of our Instructional Designers. Taking steps to making your course a more inclusive space for different types of learners can be daunting. Putting your content online is a step towards building this ideal learning space. A good place to begin when starting to put content online is video. One of the most appealing reasons is that it can be modified to be useful for many different types of learners.

photo-1424223022789-26fd8f34bba2-3Here are a few tips for turning your content into a video resource:

Prepare a Script

This is a good idea for anyone who may not be comfortable in front of a camera. This doesn’t mean you have to stick to the script exactly, think of it as a guide. Having a script written in advance is great if you plan on providing a text version of your video.

Don’t Forget About Audio

Another great thing about video is the ability to create an audio-only version of this content. Whether you plan on turning this into a podcast or not it is important to think about your audio quality. Try to choose a location for recording that is quiet. Close your eyes and listen to your surroundings. Do you hear a printer, people talking or other distracting noises? Chances are if you hear noise so does your microphone. If you listen to your video and you still aren’t happy with how it sounds it might be your microphone. In this case it might be beneficial to look into using an external mic.

Use a Camera That Works For You

The easiest way to get started is to use a camera you already have. This could be your phone, webcam or a point and shoot that you are familiar with. It can be discouraging learning how to use new equipment and can take away from getting to your end result. If you would like to create better quality video there are many resources online to help you find the right camera for your needs.

Look at Your Lighting

Using a location that has lots of natural lighting is ideal but not always practical. If you find the video a little dark try to bring in an extra lamp. If you have a window in the room try to record during the day. A quick tip for lighting is to make sure your light sources are not coming from behind your subject. This can be confusing for a typical camera to understand and can make the person in the frame much harder to see.

Test Your Setup

This is the final tip and an essential one. It is always a good idea to test your setup in advance. Check the quality of your audio and video before hand. This will save you so much time and frustration when it comes down to the time you have set aside to make your video.

If you want to incorporate more UDL you should always provide captions and transcripts for your videos.

There is a lot that goes into making a good quality video and this is just the beginning. Use some of these tips to get you in the mindset for creating your video content. 

If you have any questions about simple video production please contact elearning@upei.ca

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: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1jI128mBewHf_ncoOosviWQ3H6Xi-lmkR15hyfnsLeLE/edit

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 careerservices@upei.ca, if you’re a faculty member looking to bring professional portfolios into your courses contact elearning@upei.ca

UDL Week 3: How to (realistically) implement UDL

Okay, let’s be real for a second. So far this week, our posts about UDL have been pretty idealistic. We’ve been describing a beautiful, inclusive classroom that values diversity and allows all students equal opportunities to learn. A place where students have ownership over their learning tasks and are not presented with barriers to learning.

There is no way to do this without investing significant time into re-developing your course, right?

You’re right. Completely embracing UDL in every aspect of all of your courses could require some re-development of resources, activities, and assessments. (PLEASE don’t stop reading, there is a twist!)

But there are lots of things you can do to make your classroom more inclusive. Things that won’t take hundreds of hours to accomplish. We are in the process of developing some resources about implementing UDL, but let’s start with a list of some simple things you could do to make your courses more accessible to your wonderful group of diverse learners.

Provide multiple means of representation

This is all about presenting information in different ways. Podcasts are awesome, but if you only present information using podcasts, students with hearing impairments or auditory processing disabilities might struggle to catch all of the content. You might also have students who have preferences for visual learning or who have difficulty taking notes without visual prompts. You don’t have to stop using podcasts, but think about how else you might present information so that you are reaching all of your learners

  1. Post your class notes and handouts electronically and in advance.
  2. Highlight big ideas, themes, critical features, and relationships.
  3. Clarify vocabulary, syntax, and symbols to promote understanding.
  4. Illustrate content through multiple forms of media. (And give students choice.)
  5. Offer customizable displays (e.g. re-sizeable font, saving in multiple formats)
  6. Offer alternatives to text (e.g. accessibility of text-to-speech, videos, sound recordings)
  7. Offer alternatives to auditory information (e.g. closed captioning, transcripts)

Provide multiple means of action and expression

This principle is all about how learners navigate the learning environment and express what they know. For example, a student with a movement impairment (such as cerebral palsy) and a student with a language barrier would approach their learning differently, and you would (probably) take that into consideration when you are assessing them. This example doesn’t even consider their learning style, their preferences, and other things we know impacts learning. Every single student in your class represents diversity in how individuals learn best. Therefore, there is not one strategy of action and expression that will be optimal for all learners.

  1. Provide options for physically navigating course resources and activities (e.g. turning pages in a book, using a keyboard, writing in a workbook or lab manual: choose resources that can be integrated with common assistive technologies).
  2. Provide alternatives for physical reactions (e.g. using manipulatives, clicking a box, filling in a circle with a pencil).
  3. Optimize access to assistive technologies (e.g. accessible file formats, keyboard commands for mouse actions).
  4. Consider assessing students in multiple modalities (e.g. text, speech, design, film, movement, visual art).
  5. Use interactive tools (e.g. discussion forums, web design, storyboards, social media, annotation tools).
  6. Provide options for learning activities (e.g. group work, quick writes, reflection, mind maps, animations).
  7. Avoid using just one type of assessment (e.g. multiple choice only exams).
  8. Provide differentiated models (i.e. meeting the same outcomes using different strategies, approaches, skills).
  9. Provide differentiated feedback.
  10. Provide learning goals and objectives.
  11. Embed prompts to help learners become more strategic (e.g. stop and explain your work, embedded reflection prompts, checklists and project planning templates).
  12. Scaffold information and resource management strategies (e.g. graphic organizers, note-taking strategies, study strategies).
  13. Help students self-monitor (e.g. self-assessment activities, reflection prompts, sharing progress).

Provide multiple means of engagement

Learners are incredibly diverse when we consider their motivation and engagement. This diversity can come from culture, background, personal relevance of the topic, and background knowledge, as well as many personal and genetic traits. Some learners love group work, while others prefer to work alone. Some learners enjoy spontaneity, while others are completely uncomfortable without a strict routine. Building in some options for how students can engage with the content and learning environment can get you one step closer to having a classroom full of totally motivated, engaged learners!

  1. Provide the opportunity for students to participate in the design of classroom activities.
  2. Involve students in setting personal academic and behavioural goals.
  3. Provide choices for students in their learning activities (e.g. reward and recognition, tools used for performing learning tasks, layout and design of learning resources or assessments, sequence and timing of learning activities or events).
  4. Design tasks that allow for active participation or experimentation.
  5. Invite personal response (e.g. self-evaluation, reflection).
  6. Design activities and tasks that are relevant to learners (e.g. personalized, socially and culturally relevant, inclusive of diverse groups).
  7. Minimize threats and distractions (e.g. vary levels of risk, build a supportive and safe classroom climate, vary levels of sensory stimulation, make an effort to include all participants).
  8. Vary demands to optimize challenge (e.g. emphasize process, effort, and improvement, engage students in discussions about assessment and excellence, differentiate and scaffold).
  9. Foster collaboration and mutual learning (e.g. peer to peer learning, opportunities for feedback, learning communities).
  10. Provide mastery-oriented feedback (e.g. timely, specific, focuses on achieving development toward goals and outcomes rather than relative performance).

That’s it! Totally simple! (Just kidding!)

You don’t have to do it all at once. Our challenge to you is to choose one thing you can do today to make your classroom more inclusive. Bit by bit, you can move toward a classroom that is inclusive and promotes learning for all learners.

This UDL Graphic Organizer (link) is a nice resource to remind you of some of these suggestions for your classroom. The website also contains lots of resources and research on UDL.

Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow at our UDL workshop! Don’t forget to check out the backchannel on Twitter at #UPEIUDL.