Are ePortfolios Still Relevant for Today’s Students?

by Elyse Hartman on March 24, 2013

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Electronic Portfolios are no longer just a good idea, that are an expectation and a powerful element of college and career readiness for many.

Just a few years ago ePortfolios were all the rage with schools and employers. You couldn’t open an education or employment blog without reading tips for creating the best online ePortfolio so you could get into the school of your dreams and land your ideal job afterwards. But it seems the ePortfolio fad has died out or at least slowed down quite a bit as of late. So, what caused the flow of articles on ePortfolios to subside? Are ePortfolios a victim of the struggling economy or just a victim of circumstance? Do ePortfolios matter anymore?


ePortfolios Never Went Away—They Just Became Standard Practice

The easy answer to that question is, “yes!” ePortfolios are still a key component to getting into the schools you want and getting hired for the jobs you desire. In fact, it’s safe to say that they matter just as much now as they ever did, if not more. The reason we’ve stopped seeing as many articles about ePortfolios is because they’ve approached standard practice in the education and employment fields. It’s taken for granted that today’s students will know how to create one by the time they complete their college degrees and seek new employment opportunities, if they didn’t already create one as they prepared to apply to colleges.

Unfortunately, many students remain unfamiliar with the importance of an ePortfolio and the tools and techniques for creating them. This really is a shame given that such a large number of jobs nowadays are either partly or mostly performed – in some shape or form – online. From Information Technology jobs to graphic design, from business administration to teaching, having an ePortfolio is an excellent way for students in many disciplines to provide prospective employers with a glimpse of their work.

Bridging the Information Gap on ePortfolios in 2013
Today, an ePortfolio can be as simplistic as having a website, blog or online resume. Your academic ePortfolio should consist of your collected academic works and achievements that best showcase your pertinent skillsets and knowledge which you’ve attained during the course of your academic career. It should serve as a developmental record and personal reflection over that time period. The main themes you want to get across here are personal and intellectual growth and development. Look at it as your opportunity to broadcast all of your accomplishments and selling points to the world by providing a concise visual record of which others can track your progress by.

Having a strong academic ePortfolio will also help ease your transition into creating a career ePortfolio. The two are extremely similar when it comes to organizing relevant information, accomplishments, skills and qualifications employers look for in easy to find ways. Additionally, career ePortfolios may include things such as:

  • Summary of career goals
  • Professional mission statement
  • Traditional resumes
  • Lists of skills and marketable qualities
  • Work experience
  • Letters of recommendation and references

Updating Your ePortfolio for the Modern World
Now that you know what should be going into an ePortfolio in 2013, here’s a look at some of the things you should be doing to keep up with the changing times and landscapes:

  • Think hard about the organization, appearance and general layout of your ePortfolio. Create separate sections for topics such as education, experience, references and contact information.
  • Be sure all relevant documents are uploaded to their corresponding sections of the ePortfolio. You want to make the process as easy as possible for the person viewing them—of course, easy doesn’t have to mean boring.
  • Avoid bright colors and stick to the more traditional business formatting and fonts (may not be valid for those interested in design schools, etc. Use your judgment).
  • Try using WordPress. Take advantage of the themes this platform offers by connecting one with your personality and professional aspirations. For example, don’t use a free-flowing artsy theme if you’re going into corporate business law, and vice-versa.
  • Use meaningful pictures to bring some life to your ePortfolio. While the majority of people will have content-based ePortfolios (excluding professions like photographers, artists, etc.), it’s important to remember that a picture is worth a thousand words. Be sure they are well-cropped, in good taste and are connected to the most important points you’re trying to get across.
  • Write good content and keep it up-to-date. Spell check and grammar check and have a friend do the same.
  • Connect your ePortfolio with social media sites so people can find you more easily. Of course, you’ll want to make sure everything on your profiles are “work-appropriate”.

In summary, although a lack of current information seems to suggest that ePortfolios are losing relevance, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Fortunately, as the tools and resources available on the web continue to evolve, there are more and more ways to create and use ePortfolios than ever before.

Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
5 Tips for Advancing Any Career Using Technology Tools
6 Examples of Teachers Using the THREE RING Portfolio System for Authentic Assessment
11 Reasons Why Every College Student Needs a LinkedIn Page

About 

Elyse Hartman is owner and operator of the Medical Coding Training & Certification Guide – a website dedicated to helping people navigate the medical coding profession.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Kulari Lokuge April 3, 2013 at 1:57 pm

Hi, This is a great post, eportfolios are very important and have been embedded into our teaching and learning. However, still there are effective ways that it can be used to link what the students learn and how it can be used for employment etc.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and ideas.

Danny King March 25, 2013 at 11:38 pm

Hi, great post! I think portfolios can be an excellent way to build your personal credibility as a student, but also a really valuable motivation tool: if you are building a body of work that you are proud of as you progress through school, you’ll want to do you best work – especially if someone is going to look at it in the future (employers, colleges, friends).

Actually this is something Accredible (http://www.accredible.com) is doing – students can create their own ‘certs’ which are effectively a portfolio of work that students add as they progress to a course, but which then evolves into a certificate that they can show to employers or other stakeholders.

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