ePortfolios @ CUNY: A Whole New World

Today’s ePortfolio session at the CUNY IT Conference, held at our very own John Jay, opened my eyes to a “dazzling place I never knew” (to quote Aladdin).  Although I’ve done my fair share of snooping around CUNY sites for various ePortfolio initiatives, this presentation shared some great practices happening across CUNY in the realm of the ePortfolio.

The session featured snapshots of ePortfolios at 6 CUNY campuses: Macauley Honors College, Queensborough Community College, Hunter, Kingsborough Community College, the College of Staten Island, and the School of Professional Studies.  It was meant to highlight the diversity of ePortfolio initiatives at CUNY, and it definitely did that.  Here are some highlights:

  • At Queensborough, students use their ePortfolios as part of their Making Transfer Connections program.  The presenter shared that a student who transferred to Queens successfully used her ePortfolio to argue that she should receive transfer credit for a course that she took at Queensborough.  Accessing her ePortfolio on her advisor’s computer, she showed all the work she had completed and the course materials, and got the credit!
  • At SPS they have a faculty reunion every semester for faculty who have been involved with ePortfolios.
  • Many campuses use peer mentors to train students on using ePortfolios.  I love our peer mentors at JJ and would love to have some dedicated exclusively to this purpose.
  • Macauley uses a dedicated wordpress.org site housed on a Macauley server and their students use a version of wordpress.com to create their sites.  I’ve long admired these sites and got to discuss the technical components of the program with the presenter after the session.  It made me excited about the possibilities of this sort of thing here at JJ.
  • The other platform people seem to love is Digication.  This is not a free platform, but based on extensive research many campuses (including LaGuardia, where ePortfolios originated at CUNY) chose this platform because it is easy to use, has a robust backend for assessment purposes, and the vendor is quite responsive, with representatives who have experience in education.  Of course, new platforms are coming out every day, so the ePortfolio business is constantly evolving.
In addition to these exciting ideas, there were some other nuggets that made me think more broadly about ePortfolios as an academic and intellectual tool.  During the Q and A many presenters wondered if we are putting too much emphasis on the “e” in ePortfolio and reminded use that the point is the way that portfolios allow us a different, more nuanced, way to assess student learning outside of testing.  The presenter from Macauley encouraged us to look at portfolios in the way that a detective looks at a piece of evidence: what can they tell us about our course, program or campus?  Finally, Brett from LaGuardia (the guru of ePortfolios at CUNY) framed ePortfolios as a “multi-faceted practice” rather than a product.  All in all, lots to think about!

There is a ton more information available about ePortfolios at CUNY on the CUNY Academic Commons ePortfolio page.

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