ePortfolios at Odette

Shortly after I arrived at Odette, I began collaborating with Natalie Yun, Dr. Martha Reavley and Kerry Gray to implement ePortfolios for personal leadership development in the Odette MBA program using WordPress. Natalie collected questionnaire, interview, and eportfolio data from about 43 participants as part of her MBA major paper. Preliminary data analysis has yielded some interesting findings so far and will inform best practices for ongoing use of eportfolios across courses in the MBA program.

Elsewhere on campus, the Office of Open Learning at University of Windsor initiated a pilot project in the Fall 2013 term to introduce ePortfolios to the University community.There are currently over 90 participants contributing to their eportfolios using WordPress and Drupal.

At Odette, the MBA students are being encouraged to continue using their ePortfolios, and many, many more (~240?) undergraduate students will begin contributing to their ePortfolios throughout the Winter 2014 term. Dr. Reavley is using ePortfolios to support personal leadership development in her undergraduate Management and Labour Studies courses (Management and Organizational Life, Leadership and Coaching). These include both face-to-face and online sections and many more students reflecting on their development in eportfolios.

In the MBA program, I was asked to teach the students how to set up their WordPress blogs. When I did this, my objective was to get the students posting their entries quickly and efficiently as part of their Interpersonal Dynamics course assignments (the Office of Open Learning also has similar basic WordPress instructions). Not surprisingly, the resulting ePortfolios look more like weblogs rather than ePortfolios. They showcase the students’ reflections on the results of their various personality and competence assessments in a reverse chronological order, but need some revision to make them look more like ePortfolios. Upon discussions with the team, we decided that some housekeeping was in order for the WordPress eportfolios to present a more professional appearance for career advancement. WordPress has affordances for presenting artifacts, text, content, images, videos, links, etc. for an ePortfolio, but some modification of the layout is required.

So, I’ve started to experiment with the layout of my longstanding WordPress site (I’ve been blogging for 10 years now!) in an effort to understand what Odette students would need to do to put their best public face forward as they apply for jobs in the future. I use “Pages” instead of “Posts” for highlighting key content on this site. Pages appear like tabs or buttons to provide easy navigation for visitors to the site. If I wanted this site to be exclusively an ePortfolio, I might move the blog to display under a Blog Page (“parent”) with entries displayed within. For now, I keep this site as a blog because my goals are now slightly different. Changing posts to pages is not difficult, but involve some copying and pasting, revision of the content and changes to visibility settings.

To view examples of the kind of ePortfolios that would be appropriate for students showcasing their work, students and faculty can see examples from many other universities that already use ePortfolios. In Canada, University of Guelph has a long history of scholarship and initiatives with ePortfolios. Here are some good examples. Guelph uses the Desire2Learn learning management system (LMS) that has an ePortfolio integrated into it, rather than a separate system like WordPress that we use in addition to our Sakai-based LMS.

In the U.S., there are universities like Clemson University that require ePortfolios from every undergraduate student. Clemson has an ePortfolio Gallery where you can have a look at career eportoflios. These present a more polished appearance that would be appropriate for MBAs.


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