Deep Integration of ePortfolio Initiatives at IUPUI: Q&A with Amy Powell, IUPUI Executive Director of ePortfolio

At the 2020 Assessment Institute, hosted virtually by IUPUI, both CourseNetworking and the IUPUI CyberLab were Platinum Sponsors. In a sponsored session hosted by the IUPUI CyberLab, guest speaker, Amy Powell, Executive Director of ePortfolio at IUPUI, presented on the use of CN ePortfolio

at IUPUI. The CN ePortfolio was developed at the IUPUI CyberLab, an Educational Technology

Research and Development lab located on the IUPUI campus.

Amy Powell

About CN ePortfolio


Throughout Amy Powell's presentation, she not only spoke on the

concept of ePortfolios, and ways to implement them at various levels,

but she also focused on the specific use of the CN ePortfolio

platform as the primary tool. The CN ePortfolio is a lifelong, academic,

and social profile that CN users keep with them

for the rest of their professional time. The CN can be

integrated with Canvas and other LMS (Moodle, Blackboard, Sakai, etc.)

*the integration requires an institution license.


IUPUI ePortfolio Focus

Powell explained IUPUI’s campus vision for ePortfolio as a way for students to create, develop, and engage with an ePortfolio iteratively from their point of entry to IUPUI throughout their careers. She emphasized student engagement within her First-Year Seminar (FYS) courses and how easy it was for her students to create their lifelong ePortfolios. At IUPUI, the CN ePortfolio in curriculum and co-curriculum include, but not limited to:

  • First-Year Experience
  • General Education
  • Capstone
  • Internships
  • Career Courses
  • Study Abroad
  • Community-engaged work

After the 2020 Assessment Institute presentation, Amy Powell answered a few questions posed by the CN team about ePortfolio. Her answers are reflected in the following Q & A. Answers are direct quotes from Powell.

Q & A with Amy Powell


Q. What is your and/or IUPUI's view on ePortfolios?

A.

“ePortfolio is both a process and a product, and it benefits students in multiple ways throughout their college experience. ePortfolios are a place where students can reflect on their learning and experiences, make connections among courses, and literally see their learning unfold over time. When we help students understand their learning and make it visible to them, they can see new patterns and make intentional decisions about the next steps in their education, major, and career pathways. And, as a student gets closer to graduation, they can begin curating their ePortfolio to share with potential employers, showcasing their skills and knowledge in their chosen field. A polished ePortfolio is a fantastic complement to a resume, bringing evidence of career skills in addition to the professionalism displayed throughout the ePortfolio composition.”

 Q. How is IUPUI carrying out ePortfolios use?


A.


“IUPUI is committed to integrating ePortfolios into the entire undergraduate experience. We know that students experience benefits from ePortfolio in a single course and that the benefits increase the more experiences students have. We also know that students see college as more than just classes. They are engaged in co-curricular activities on and off-campus, are working, and often have family responsibilities, so we look for opportunities to engage a wide range of campus partners in ePortfolio work. Our vision for ePortfolios is that all undergraduate students create, develop, and engage with ePortfolio iteratively from their point of entry to IUPUI through their culminating senior experience. We accomplish this by embedding ePortfolio into the curriculum and co-curriculum so that students can’t help but engage with ePortfolio in each year of their time with us. My office works with faculty to embed ePortfolio into entire degree programs, often beginning with one or two courses and leading to the thoughtful integration of ePortfolio throughout the curriculum with intentional and substantive touchpoints each year. We have a robust first-year experience program, with all freshmen being required to take a first-year seminar course. By embedding an ePortfolio kickoff into the first-year seminar, our students learn early the benefits of creating an ePortfolio and begin learning the skills to successfully capture and reflect on their learning over time.”

Q. Why did IUPUI choose CN ePortfolio? Could you briefly compare and contrast other

options currently being used or not used, and the reasoning?


A.


“At IUPUI, we are very fortunate to have such strong technologies and technology services available to us. When deciding on any technology for educational purposes, it’s important to always start with the learning goals and best practices. For this, we turn to our ePortfolio High-Impact Practice Taxonomy, which outlines practice guidance for implementing ePortfolio in a single course, across multiple courses, and across an entire undergraduate experience. We needed an ePortfolio platform that would support embedding ePortfolio in the curriculum, support ePortfolio pedagogies such as reflection, peer interactions, and composing for an authentic audience, support ePortfolio-making skills such as visual design, multimodal design, and curation, as well as support holistic assessment. We have a very long checklist of technical abilities we searched for in a platform, including integration into the LMS, ease of use, dedicated space for reflection, ability to combine text, video, audio, and other multimedia, and the ability of the student to control the content, look, and navigation of their ePortfolio, to name a few. We also have access to Google Sites, a website builder, and there are many free website builders out there as well. However, to build an ePortfolio program across an entire campus, it was important to find a platform that was flexible to meet the learning goals of most programs, so there is consistency for students across courses and across time. While some programs may have learning goals related to building a website, most students don’t want or need to learn how to build a website from scratch. The CN ePortfolio is a great balance of providing some structure for students to add their content to, but also flexible enough that they can make it their own. It belongs to the student, and they keep their account when they graduate – which helps students see it as relevant to them, not just something they will do for a class and then forget about.”

Q. Are there different strengths of CN ePortfolio that benefit different courses or implementation types?

(For example, a certain feature that fits well for FYS)


A.


“The feature of CN ePortfolio we use across all programs is the Showcase section. It’s the go-to space for adding learning artifacts and reflections. Students can add showcases as they participate in more activities and courses; it allows their ePortfolio to grow with them over time. The HTML editing tool allows students to embed documents, hyperlinks, videos, images, and other media very easily, which gives their ePortfolios a lot of depth. The editor also allows the student to have a great deal of control over the way each showcase looks, allowing them to present themselves very professionally. In addition, at the top of the Showcase section is a space where students can introduce the showcase section as a whole to the reader and provide context for the story their ePortfolio tells. Having these layered spaces for reflection is a real strength of the CN ePortfolio.”

Q. What CN ePortfolio features do you think are the most valuable to students?


A.


“I often find students are drawn to the visual resume at the top of the CN ePortfolio; it’s a great space for them to share who they are at a glance. Also, the showcases, because there is so much room for creativity. Plus, the CN ePortfolio is so easy to use, it functions like a lot of social media sites, so it’s easy for students to pick up. We don’t need to spend time teaching them how to use the tool. I notice that students are careful about what they want to share publicly and what they want to keep private or only share with their class. The visibility tools are a feature I always point out to students, and they appreciate having a high level of control over who can see their work.”


Q. What does ePortfolio assessment look like for various IUPUI ePortfolio users

(course level or program level or institution as a whole)?


A.


“At IUPUI, we use ePortfolios for assessment in a variety of contexts. For example, in a single course, a student may include in their ePortfolio a signature assignment along with a reflection on learning or a set of assignments that show the progression of skills along with a reflection on learning. In that instance, the ePortfolio can be used to assess the assignment in the course, but also used by the department to assess program outcomes. An academic department can look at a set of student ePortfolios for evidence of achievement of a degree program’s learning outcomes. Evidence found in ePortfolios can be used for accreditation; it can also be used for program improvement. When gaps in skill development are found, a department has an opportunity to rethink and refine their curriculum map, leading to improvements in teaching and better outcomes for students. At IUPUI, we assess our institutional learning outcomes, the Profiles of Learning for Undergraduate Success, by looking at student reflections in ePortfolios across a variety of high-impact practices students are engaging in. ePortfolios are so versatile for assessment at all levels and provide really great direct evidence of student learning.”

Q. Do you have any advice for institutions that want to integrate CN ePortfolio or an ePortfolio

in general to their current LMS?


A.


“No matter what ePortfolio system you go with, being able to integrate it into the LMS is such a benefit in that it makes it easy for students and faculty to access and sends a clear message that you value ePortfolios. In the quick move to online learning, we are learning a lot from our students about how they use technology. It’s important to keep things simple and consistent. Integrating the ePortfolio tool in the LMS makes it easy for students to find, and it’s consistent across all of their classes. At IUPUI, we use the CN Post for discussions in addition to the ePortfolio tool, which simplifies the number of tools students have to learn.”

Q. What do you think the future holds for ePortfolios?


A.


“I think that universities are just beginning to touch the tip of the iceberg with what is possible with ePortfolio and the benefits to students, to faculty, and to the institution. In the future, I can see ePortfolios becoming an integral part of online degree programs. Online programs are a natural fit for ePortfolio because of the demographics of online students and the pace at which they progress through a degree program. An ePortfolio captures learning over time and makes learning visible to students. When these pieces are laid out in front of us, we can see patterns, and we can see connections. And when students bring together learning experiences from the classroom, from their community, and from their daily lives into one space, they become able to articulate their skills, strengths, and goals. And when the ePortfolio contains direct evidence of disciplinary skills, curated and articulated in a way that demonstrates professionalism and communication skills, ePortfolios will be the thing that gives students a competitive edge in gaining meaningful employment.”


Additional Resources

Instructor testimony and IUPUI use cases from FYS, study abroad, NSF-funded STEM program, general education course, transfer student courses, and entire Communication Studies program-wide implementation are shown in this CN ePortfolio Use Case Video. You may also view Powell’s slides and the video recording of her 2020 Assessment Institute Conference presentation. Please email Amy Powell at powellaa@iupui.edu or CourseNetworking at info@coursenetworking.com for additional information and questions.

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