ePortfolios for Students

What’s an ePortfolio?

ePortfolios are an online document of significant assignments and experiences that occur during your learning process. You can use an ePortfolio to:

  • Display papers you’re proud of for more than just your instructor to see.
  • Talk about the thought and work that went into your class submissions.
  • Gather an overview of your educational experience as a whole.
  • Share your work with graduate schools, future employers, etc.

ePortfolios can be public or private to only those you allow, and you can change that setting at any time. Some instructors require an ePortfolio submission for projects or cumulative programs. UCF students retain access to Webcourses@UCF and their portfolios after graduation; however, we recommend exporting your eportfolio and self-hosting for ensured access to student submissions.

View a sample eportfolio for a Business Administration student.

More than a Resume

An ePortfolio provides a way to demonstrate your accomplishments beyond a bulleted list of skills and experiences. Much like a resume, it is a good idea to have a Curriculum Vitae (CV). A CV is a detailed document displaying all your professional experiences and accomplishments. When applying for a job, you can use your CV as a source to assemble a more focused resume concentrating on skills and experience that demonstrate that you the best fit for the job. An ePortfolio can be managed the same way, with a master portfolio that you keep private and update frequently, and a public portfolio that serves a particular purpose.

An ePortfolio usually has a few key features:

Artifacts

Artifacts are evidence you use to display learning. They are also a representation of an experience. Remember that an artifact can be a wide variety of things. Artifacts include artwork, papers, pictures, lab reports, lesson plans, videos, and much more. It is important to display relevant evidence while still using a variety of artifacts. For example, instead of simply adding PDFs of papers from every class, consider including pictures or videos from a lab.

Use these brainstorming questions to help determine which artifacts to include in your ePortfolio:

  1. Which skill, experience, or knowledge would you like to showcase?
  2. Why include this experience? What did you learn or gain?
  3. What document or media best represents this experience?

Example: 1) ecology lab; 2) How to gather and analyze data; 3) Ecology lab report.

Reflective Writing

In addition to describing your skills, experiences, and knowledge, your ePortfolio should also include reflective writing. Reflective writing gives your audience context for a given artifact and explains how each experience relates to other experiences. This type of writing provides your audience with an understanding of both what your artifact is and why it matters. When reflecting on experiences and artifacts, be sure to provide your audience with a brief summary of what the artifact is as well as a deeper reflection on the experience.

Reflective writing allows you to articulate why an experience is important, what you learned during the process, and how you plan to apply your skills to future projects or endeavors. The questions below will help you incorporate key components of reflective writing. As you develop your reflections, try to answer at least one question from each category.

What?
  1. What context/background information is important?
  2. What happened? What did you do? What were the results?
So What?
  1. Why does this skill, experience, or knowledge matter? What insights did you gain?
  2. How does this relate to your education? Career aspirations? Personal interests?
  3. What did you learn about yourself? Your goals, values, or perceptions? Your environment, subject matter, or community?
  4. What skills did you use or acquire?
  5. How does this connect to other skills, experiences, or knowledge?
  6. What challenges did you encounter? How did you overcome them?
  7. What part are you most proud of? Why?
  8. What would you do differently?
  9. How was your experience different from what you expected?
Now What?
  1. How might you use this skill, experience, or knowledge in future projects or endeavors?
  2. How will this influence the way you approach future projects or endeavors?
  3. What will change as a result of this?
  4. What would you like to learn more about?

About Me Page

This is an important page because it is often the first page your audience sees. It is also where you introduce your theme. You should consider designing your About Me section to introduce both yourself and your theme or overall message. Remember that this page is an opportunity to express yourself through a personal description and pictures.

The About Me page is an opportunity for you to introduce yourself and highlight the connections between your skills, experiences, and knowledge. Make sure your biographical information is relevant and professional. The About Me page can also link to other parts of your ePortfolio. Answer the questions below to identify content for your page:

  1. Which skills, experiences, or knowledge would you like to highlight?
  2. How will you guide your audience to other parts of your ePortfolio?
  3. How could you articulate your theme or overall message?

Getting Started

As you begin, think about your experiences and how they will contribute to your ePortfolio. Below are important elements to consider before you create your ePortfolio.

Audience

Think about who your audience for your ePortfolio is before you get started. Examples of audiences include potential employers or graduate schools. Although a professor may be an immediate audience, try to consider how you could use this ePortfolio for the next stage of your academic or career goals. This will allow you to create an ePortfolio that can be adapted and used for a future audience. Although your audience should not be the only factor, a defined audience will help you determine what to include and how to organize your ePortfolio.

Use these questions to consider who your audience will be and what they may be looking for when visiting your site:

  1. Briefly describe your professional goals. What do you hope to accomplish over the next year? Five years?
  2. Using your previous response as a guide, who is your target audience? What skills, experiences, and knowledge/content are important to your audience?
  3. Are there any concepts, themes, or words/phrases you should include in your ePortfolio to appeal to your audience?

Theme

As you work on your ePortfolio, a theme will likely emerge. In a course assignment, the theme is usually provided by the professor, but selecting your own theme for your professional ePortfolio provides context to visitors and helps you present your experiences as a united whole. A theme does not need to be a concrete word or phrase, but it can be a concept that unifies your professional goals with your personal interests and experiences. Having a theme will help you create a more unified body of work. As you begin to notice underlying threads that connect your experiences, you can select documents and media, or artifacts, that will add to your intended theme.

However, before you get started it is useful to have a few ideas in mind. Spend some time thinking about how your experiences tie together and what common themes are consistent. This should include academic experiences as well as jobs, volunteering, or extracurricular interests. As you move forward, your theme will become clearer.

Collect and Organize

It is important to begin collecting and organizing materials that may be useful to include in your ePortfolio. At first, you should consider a wide range of materials and then begin selecting specific artifacts once you have a clear direction for your ePortfolio. Artifacts are documents and media that act as evidence of your experiences or achievements. Artifacts should represent personal interests as well as academic and professional experiences. These materials can range from videos to pictures to course assignments. It is also very important to begin organizing this material so that you can find it easily. This includes creating a system to back up your artifacts so that they will not be damaged or lost. It is much easier to collect materials as you go along, rather than backtracking to collect artifacts from past courses. And don’t limit yourself only to coursework; your experiences outside the classroom are an important part of your development as well.

Step-by-step instructions for building an ePortfolio in Webcourses@UCF

The above content is adapted from the University of Auburn’s ePortfolio Project from the Office of University Writing