I Survived the e-Portfolio (and How You Can Too)
Published: November 26, 2018 by Priscilla Ameneyro
On the first day of INFO-289, I woke up to see I had been added to Dr. Anthony Bernier’s advising site in Canvas with a dozen or so other students. I already knew Dr. Bernier from my work on the School of Information Student Research Journal, so it was nice to see a familiar face. Advisors are assigned randomly and you don’t know who your advisor is until the semester starts. Now I’m writing this article having completed my e-Portfolio several weeks early. My goal with this post is to give you a window into the process and share practical tips that will set you up for success when the time comes for you.
I was quite diligent about backing up my assignments but I can’t say I did a great job of organizing my files or using a consistent naming convention. Looking back, it would’ve been helpful to have a folder that contained all the final versions of my assignments. I used the MLIS course tracker to map out which courses to take and what competencies I needed additional evidence for. The sooner you start thinking about your e-Portfolio and taking action to prepare yourself, the easier it will be.
My e-Portfolio advisor had a six-minute welcome video for us to watch and a memo to read that dove into his expectations more. Every faculty member has their own approach to the e-Portfolio and they will lay out their guidelines for you. I also re-read the handbook and spent some time scrolling through examples. After doing this, I felt like I had a pretty good grasp of the work ahead of me, but at this stage I was still feeling pretty intimidated.
The First Competency
The class was organized into three separate reading windows. The first reading window was a chance to submit one complete competency, both the evidence and statement of competency, for feedback. The second window you could submit as many competencies as you like, same again for the third window, followed by the November 19 deadline! I decided to start with competency K because I felt I had strong evidence for it. I didn’t pass, but I got encouraging and specific feedback, so I didn’t feel too deflated. The process might look different depending on who you have as your advisor, for example, you may be able to submit competencies for review at any time up until the deadline.
Combing Through the Evidence
I underestimated how long it would take to go through all my assignments. Deciding what evidence supports each competency was actually the hardest part; some pieces will fit multiple competencies and some competencies you’ll have a hard time finding enough evidence for. If that’s the case, you can always develop new evidence. You can download a .zip file from Canvas of all your submitted assignments which is really handy, however, this doesn’t include discussion posts. My advice for saving your discussion posts is to include the question or prompt with your answer as part of your post; I realized I was missing the prompts for a couple of my discussion posts. Trying to remember what you were asked to do in the first place can be a challenge when you’re describing your evidence (especially if it has been several years since you worked on it). Similar to the discussion posts, it’s good practice to keep a copy of the instructions with each assignment. It’s also useful to keep track of your contributions to group projects.
Passing All Comps
I chose to build my e-Port in Canvas which was very straightforward to do, but you can use other platforms like Wordpress. For the second reading window, I went for it and wrote like crazy to submit a draft for each competency. That way I figured I had a framework laid down and could get feedback on whether or not my evidence was substantial enough. Wrapping your head around the competencies and what they actually mean and how they are different takes some work. It’s pretty simple to write about your evidence and how it demonstrates the competency once you’ve selected it and reviewed it. For each competency, I also had to write a closing paragraph about my plans for staying current in the field and what new skills I wanted to develop. I now have a plan to continue my education even after I’ve graduated. To my surprise, I passed all of the competencies and it was only the beginning of October!
Wrapping it Up
All I had left to do was write the introduction, conclusion and statement of professional competency (only for those who started the program prior to Spring 2015). Which again, took me longer than I thought it would. Ultimately I realized that these elements are very personal and it’s really up to you how you execute them (within the framework outlined in the handbook). Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to complete all the elements. By the third reading window, I was completely done and I could finally relax!
The e-Portfolio is not the only option for your culminating experience, you can also do a thesis. It’s your choice which option you go with, but I can tell you the e-Port provided an enriching opportunity to reflect on everything I’ve done and learned throughout the MLIS program, as well as gave me a product to market myself with to potential employers.