Coming to Terms with ePortfolios

By April 24, 2013Writing about Writing

When creating a Digication page we all seem to stress over getting the coding right. Do we want borders or not? What color should the background be? What color should the navigation menu be? What color should the font be? What picture should I use for my banner? Should I include any pictures or videos in my sections? How do I make this look simultaneously pretty and professional? What sometimes gets left behind is the whole point for making the portfolio in the first place: the content.

What a portfolio is asking for depends on the class you are creating it for. Some are quarter long projects, and the portfolio is how you are to present your final product. Others are self-reflective, focusing on how you have grown over the course of the class. Some focus on job components, others focus on assignments. However, no matter what your portfolio is focusing on, the main concern of the creator should always be the content over the flashy.

A lot of the portfolios we have to create are pretty extensive out of the theory that we have been working on them all quarter, or year, or what have you. The reality is, like with all homework we have, we tend to put much of it off until the last minute. So when you have a multiple aspect portfolio to finish, and very little time to do it, how do you get it done without going nuts?

Like with all forms of writing, everyone works differently so there isn’t just one way to do this. But, here is what I do.

1. Pre-Insert Your Modules: Insert as many modules as you will need to complete your portfolio before you even start. At first this will make the amount of things you need to do look pretty daunting, but as you go on, there will be less and less blank modules left, making the amount of progress you have made as well as the end being near much more tangible. This is especially helpful if you are easily stressed by large assignments like I am.

2. Break Up Your Time: You don’t have to work on all your sections at once. Even if you are completing this the night before, don’t start from the beginning and go straight through to the end. Do one module on one page and then do another module on a different page. You don’t have to go straight through and do all of your writing modules first either. Do a written one and then do a couple picture modules that take less effort, before going back to writing again. This helps to keep you from getting bored repeatedly writing the same thing.

3. Focus on What You Know First: There has long been an argument as to whether or not you should address the harder parts of papers or portfolios first, or the easier parts, but that isn’t exactly what I mean here. Realistically, if you have to create a multi-section portfolio you are going to have a better idea about what you are going to say in some sections over others. This doesn’t necessarily make it easier to write that section, though. I personally always start with the section where I have the strongest ideas about what I want to touch on. This means that I will write the section when it is freshest in my mind and I am less likely to forget the points I want to make, and it gives me more time to get my thoughts and ideas together for the sections I’m not so sure about or haven’t done all of the work for yet.

4. Use Coding as a Break: I’m really not a coding person. It confuses me and I have to use multiple guides to get it right. But I’m also a perfectionist that can’t just ignore the coding aspect of ePortfolios. When I write for these kinds of things, I pretty much need complete silence. So, when I start coding I use it as a kind of break, put on a movie and watch it as I try to figure the basics out. This way, my brain gets a break from writing and I get something done at the same time. Also, I don’t know about anyone else, but I can’t just sit still and watch a movie in my apartment. I always have to be multitasking, so in this one case I try to be productive at the same time.

5. Have Fun with It: In the end, you have to make this portfolio just like you have to write a research paper or take a test for your other classes. There isn’t anything you can do about it, so making it is fun as possible only helps you along. Portfolios, though professional, can also be relatively casual so be clever in your welcome page. That doesn’t give you a free pass to be insulting. Just make it fun and different than every other portfolio out there. If you want to include pictures with your content, go out with your friends and have a fun photo shoot. Include videos that you enjoy that make you laugh but also get your point across. EPortfolios are multidimensional, which means they don’t have to be as dry as your typical paper.

I know that these strategies might not work for everyone, but hopefully they can at least give you an idea of ways to approach your portfolio without dreading it. In the long run, they are very useful things since they can easily be examples of your knowledge and skills with coding and creativity, as well as a ready resume and writing sample.  Like with most other assignments you will receive at work and at school, they do serve a purpose other than simply for you to do it because the professor says to.