Happy exams!

Here in the Office of Skills Development and Learning, we love students. So to celebrate our wonderful students at the end of the semester, here are some of our top tips for a successful exam period.

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Don’t cram up until the last minute…put your notes away at least an hour before your exam time and do something
fun or relaxing.
– Voilet Vadjina, Career Practitioner


Jason quote

“If the exam covers old material that’s been on quizzes or midterms, instead of reviewing them try re-doing them to help you prepare. Best of luck!”
– Jason Hogan, E-Learning Instructional Designer


Karen quote

“Anxiety is contagious so avoid other students who are overly nervous or negative on exam day. Try to stay relaxed by thinking positive thoughts!”
– Karen Dempsey, Manager,
Career & Adult Learner Services


beth quote“Do your best, but always remember that the grade you get on an exam is not who you are. You are unlimited!”
– Beth Janzen, Administrative Support


megan quote

“Don’t overdo it on coffee! Your brain needs good food to make it through exams. Drink water and eat well!”
– Megan MacKenzie, E-Learning Instructional Designer


ernie quote“Get adequate sleep! Try to stay calm! Read exam questions very very carefully! Tell them everything you know!”
– Ernie Doiron, Co-operative Education Coordinator


kristy quote“Get fresh air! If you’re feeling stressed get outside and go for a walk. This will give you a chance to clear your mind and when you get back to studying you will be ready to focus!”
– Kristy McKinney, E-Learning Multimedia Specialist


jennifer quote“Exams can be a stressful time for everyone so remember to take time out for yourself, relax, and breathe.”
– Jennifer Hogan, Business Development and Education Program Manager


From all of us to you, good luck on your exams and have a wonderful summer!

summer

 

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!

Students – Google Apps Accounts – UPEI.ca

With your Google Apps account at UPEI.ca you have the ability to easily share, collaborate, and participate with everyone else in the UPEI community. Combining the following four apps can lead to a lot of awesomeness.

Gmail – Gmail is the cornerstone of the Google Apps suite. And it is the primary address for all types of communication throughout the UPEI community. With a lifelong account, you’ll be able to easily communicate and revisit your classmates, friends, and colleagues as a student or alumni.

For more information about Gmail, check out our video tutorial playlist on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQS6BnXBe38&list=PLADCB85FE83E9652D

Drive – Google Drive continues to expand and push the boundaries of collaboration and participation on the web. Creating new or editing old documents has never been easier for groups, and many UPEI classes, centres, and services use Google Drive to share documents, presentations, spreadsheets and other data. This is an easy-to-use storage space for all your papers, assignments, and notes.

For more information about Google Drive, check out our video tutorial playlist on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztUDkhW5h2I&list=PL7C052718F4DB9538

Calendar – Google Calendar lets you manage your timetable, allowing you to easily keep track of assignments, exams, or group meetings. Google calendars allow you to share your calendars with other users, letting project groups determine the best times to meet. With the ability to create multiple calendars, you can easily keep track of separate courses, as well as personal events, or your work schedule.

For more information about Gmail, check out our video tutorial playlist on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-RJgxbmPhs&list=PL0351588E909436DC

Sites – Google Sites can be used in variety of ways to help highlight your UPEI experience. In some classes you could use Google Sites to submit assignments or papers, construct a wiki, or more. You can keep your sites private, or share them with classmates, or all over the world, making it an excellent tool for sharing portfolios of your work across disciplines.

For more information about Google Sites, check out our video tutorial playlist on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0ZCJEWzPeQ&list=PL04D93A6ED734DF35

Why use an ePortfolio?

We have been getting a lot of great questions about ePortfolios lately.  An ePortfolio is a tool that students can use to keep track of and share their achievements, projects, and reflections to document and provide evidence of learning.  There are several different types of ePortfolios including:

Developmental portfolios:  Provide evidence of progress or improvement over a period of time.  Developmental portfolios are works-in-progress and serve a purpose of self-reflection, self-assessment, and engaging in communication between faculty and students.

Assessment portfolios:  Provide evidence of student competence in a specific area.  While the purpose of a developmental portfolio is to engage in critical reflection, assessment portfolios are used to evaluate student competency.  Assessment portfolios are often used at the end of a course or program.

Showcase portfolio:  Provide evidence of student work, most often seen as career portfolios.  While showcase and assessment portfolios are often used to demonstrate learning and growth, showcase portfolios are a tool to highlight quality work.  Often, people will have multiple versions of their career portfolio, based on who will be viewing it.

So why use an ePortfolio?  There are benefits to be seen from both the process and the product.  Building an ePortfolio requires organizing and reflecting on experiences, choosing artifacts that provide evidence of learning or competencies, and conceptualizing learning experiences.  Building a portfolio is a lot of work, and all of that work can help to enhance a student’s ability to speak to their knowledge and skills.  Portfolios promote a new depth to self-reflection and can help students focus their goal-setting.  The product itself becomes a concrete way of showcasing strengths, a personal learning record, and a tool to jumpstart future personal development.

There are many ways to implement ePortfolios into academic and co-curricular programs.  We would love to see every student at UPEI engaging in the process of building their ePortfolio.  Want to learn more?  Ready to get started?  Contact the E-Learning Office by clicking here.

Hot Tips for Forum Posting

The use of discussion forums in undergraduate and graduate classes is getting more and more common at UPEI.  Usually an instructor will ask you to post in a forum when they want you to engage with your classmates in some discussion outside of class time.

But how do you compose a top-notch post?  It is formal or casual?  Is it time-sensitive?  Who is the audience?  What happens after you post it?

Well, you are in luck.  We are going to break down our top five tips for being a forum superstar.

1.  Post Early.  Often you will be required to post a response to a reading or activity; or maybe to reflect on an experience.  Usually you will be given a few days (or up to a week) to post.  Do everyone a favour and do it early, in order to give your classmates and instructor enough time to read and respond to you.  Remember, the purpose of a discussion forum is to engage in discussion.  If you leave your post until the last day, your procrastinating ways have an impact on everyone else.

2.  Know your audience.  Yes, your peers are the primary audience.  But your instructor is also reading your posts.  A general rule is that your forum posts can be less formal than other academic writing, but should always remain professional, constructive, and well-written.  Sometimes your instructor will tell you to use bullets or tables; sometimes you will have a word limit.  And, as always, don’t forget to cite your sources!  If you are unsure what your instructor is looking for – ask!

3.  Back up your work.  A reality of working online is that sometimes technology fails.  The last thing you want is to compose a beautiful forum post and have your internet disconnect on you.  Some people like to write their posts in a Google Doc or Word file and copy the text in the forum.  This is a good practice because it gives you time to come back and edit your work before you post it.  If you choose to compose directly in the forum… don’t say we didn’t warn you!

4.  Check back often.  Don’t just post and be done with it!  The richest conversation (and best learning) comes from the feedback you will exchange with your peers.  Read your peers’ posts, leave comments, and ask questions.  Forums are a great opportunity to dig deep and take your learning one step further.

5.  Read through the forums before your final exam.  Your instructor will often choose the big-ticket topics to focus class discussion.  What could be better than having a written record of all of those class discussions??  If your instructor thinks it was important enough to dedicate an entire forum, chances are you will see that topic on your exam.  Don’t forget to go back and review those discussions while studying.  You can thank us later.

Need some help navigating your Moodle course?  Have further questions about posting in a forum?  Get in touch with the E-Learning Office by clicking here.

Happy posting!!