Glenn Johnson, Project Manager for the PSU ePortfolio Initiative, stopped by class today to discuss the whole ePortfolio concept. He started by discussing the importance of evidence ... what I take from that is that it is critical to create a sort of historical roadmap of your time here at PSU. I did so much stuff in college that is lost forever ... some of it was actually good stuff -- other stuff wasn't, but the point is that I don't have ANY real record of my knowledge and intellectual development. The new ePortfolio opportunities can easily overcome that.
Going Beyond the Resume
"It allows others read between the lines ..." It provides prospective employers with the evidence they need to see what you can actually DO. That is an important distinction ... with a static, paper-based resume you list all sorts of skills and experiences -- but if you pair that with an ePortfolio, there is a historical record of your actual competencies. It lets people actually see what you've done. It is going to make a huge difference.
At PSU, students are being asked more and more to create digital assets as outcomes to their classroom assignments. Trust me, unless you have some sort of next generation storage area network system with a huge meta data repository, you'll loose it all. That's what I did. With an opportunity like ePortfolio, PSU has provided you with a digital repository that represents you -- and its easy to do. Good stuff.
Glenn went on to discuss some real-world examples of students' usage of the ePortfolio and how it transformed their job/internship search experience. One of the students he highlighted is over in EMS ... this student differentiated himself (using ePortfolio) from someone who has taken the courses to someone who can actually report the weather. Good stuff. Here's an incredible example.
What are the 5 pieces of evidence that you will point to that differentiates you ... then think critically about each one of those and why they were the ones you selected ... Glenn says, "that's part of your story." Here's a real nice page that describes how to do the selection process.
Here are some tips:
- Keep it focused
- Keep it simple
- Make sure you tell your story
- Know your audience
- Sell yourself to that audience
Scenario ... faculty staff, instructors, advisors at PSU are in a unique position because of how well connected they are ... they have friends in so many different areas of the world -- corporate, professional associations, other Universities, etc ... if one of my colleagues has a grant that requires an information technology problem that needs to be solved and they send me a request to see if I have a student or know of someone who can help out ... typically what happens is that they send that out to a whole bunch of people via email and someone would respond that, "hey, I know someone ..." now, if that email contains a link to that student’s ePortfolio, I've just given my friend that opportunity to do a "virtual interview" via the portfolio.
ePortfolios begin to make a big difference when you make it to the short list ... two positions with 250 applications ... will an ePortfolio make a difference? No, but if you are one of five left, then yes it will make THE difference.
The point is this; you really need to start thinking about how important it is to start documenting your competencies via the ePortfolio. I wish you all would start building one ... at a minimum; it will help you organize your experiences. At the other end of the spectrum, it will give prospective employers an opportunity to really get to know you without having to physically meet them. It will be the way people are differentiated in the coming years. If you want any help, let me know and we'll do a web publishing session. If you have questions or comments, post them here and I'll make sure Glenn gets them.