Portfolios have been an asset for students and job seekers for decades, and lately they’ve been getting a fresh, new look. Many employers and admissions officers now expect student applicants to provide an ePortfolio that quickly and concisely demonstrates their work experience and abilities.

Unfortunately, this is not something that students often begin working on until they are asked to provide one. Discover how you can communicate the value of an ePortfolio to your students and get them started on it early.

Value to college students

Particularly helpful for college students who may not yet have extensive work experience, a portfolio is the perfect way to showcase relevant school work and achievements. These can be used for many opportunities, such as applying for an advanced degree, seeking employment or internships, applying for a scholarship or financial aid, and many more.

An ePortfolio is a place to collect and save coursework as a record of students’ skills, achievements, and learning. It may also help students gain perspective on their goals as they begin to detect patterns in their best work. It’s a great idea for students to get started as soon as they enter college (and maybe even earlier).

If it’s not a requirement for your course, encourage your students to start building their ePortfolio today. When students are asked to provide a portfolio, they are often ill-prepared and must put their life’s work together last-minute. While it needn’t be perfectly polished just yet, it helps to keep all achievements in one place, with dates and concepts jotted down. Then it can simply be cleaned up and ready to go when it’s time to share it.

For more suggestions for building an effective ePortfolio that can help students put their work in the best possible light, visit our blog post, “Tips for Students: Polishing Your Professional Portfolio.”

Value to instructors

As an added bonus, ePortfolios have been shown to increase student engagement throughout the course of the semester by clearly showing students (and instructors) how far they’ve come in their achievements.

According to journal article, “What Difference Can an EPortfolio Make? A Field Report from the Connect to Learning Project”:

What does it mean to make learning visible? Most obviously, ePortfolios can make the learning process more visible to students themselves. Curating a body of their own learning artifacts, collected over time and in different settings, provides students with opportunities to examine and reflect on their learning. (98)

An ePortfolio also gives college students the chance to showcase the types of skills that are not easily measured in standardized tests, giving educators an opportunity to rethink how they create learning outcomes.

ePortfolios can be used to demonstrate students’ achievement or understanding of established outcomes and competencies as established by a school or discipline. This is often true for the cases where they’re required for graduation or certification.

ePortfolio with Pathbrite

Pathbrite and Cengage LearningAn online portfolio platform can be integrated into a classroom lesson plan to help college students build their ePortfolio easily. For example, with a portfolio platform called Pathbrite, users can aggregate and showcase all digital evidence of what they have created, achieved and mastered. Through a new partnership between Cengage Learning and Pathbrite, students will have access to Pathbrite’s best-in-class ePortfolio in Cengage Learning’s course solutions.

“We are pleased to be partnering with Pathbrite to deliver an essential resource to students and faculty as we continue to hear that a digital portfolio is becoming critical to securing a job,” said Jim Donohue, Chief Product Officer, Cengage Learning. “Students are looking for a seamless solution to collect and share their achievements – which is the beauty of Pathbrite’s online portfolio.” Your students can even sign up for a free Pathbrite account.

Do students in your discipline create ePortfolios? What additional benefits do you find from encouraging students to build an ePortfolio? Share your thoughts below.

Reference: Eynon, Bret, Laura M. Gambino, and Judit Török. “What Difference Can EPortfolio Make? A Field Report from the Connect to Learning Project.” International Journal of EPortfolio 95-114 4.1 (2014): International Journal of EPortfolio. Web. 30 Mar. 2015.