Use Digital Portfolios to Showcase Your e-Learning and Creative ProjectsSeptember 28, 2021
Let’s face it—in this world we’re living in, even if you’re not creative, you need a user-friendly digital platform where you can easily share and showcase your skills or potential. Using an online tool to tell your story is the best thing you can do for yourself. As an educational technology professional, I am a bit obsessed with crafting, perfecting, and more recently, presenting my skills. The option to digitally share online learning skills and snippets of work is vital in my line of work, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has accelerated the move to online learning.
And this is where Online portfolios come into play.
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E-Learning portfolios, which can be both assessment and skills showcase tools, are, in my opinion, fantastic tools that allow students and professionals to start building and showcasing their skills and projects to the world. Digital portfolios allow students to organise, select, and reflect on their work. The education sector is also steering towards increased use of e-Learning portfolios as authentic assessment tools teachers can use to observe students on their learning journey.
Another advantage of using portfolios is that they allow us to reflect on the work done and progress made. Most of us are guilty of not clearly seeing the learning and development we made over time. Since I started my first portfolio, I regularly go back to my past posts and projects to compare whether I would approach the same project again in exactly the same way.
So don’t hesitate and don’t delay that—create your digital space! There are only benefits.
Students can use the content gathered for a portfolio later to kickstart their actual professional or portfolio website. If you have already started your professional career, you can present yourself and your projects exactly as you want! This will be the space that you own. You control what to present and how you want to be received. Both a personal and a business brand are cultivated!
Online Portfolios in Education
Education professionals can use platforms like Google Sites, Mahara, WordPress, Wix, and others to integrate e-Learning portfolios and start collecting the students’ work that represents their progress or success in a content area over a period of time. E-Learning portfolios can include written evaluations, multimedia presentations, suggestions, peer reviews, self-reflection posts, etc. The possibilities are endless. The use of e-Learning portfolios to facilitate students’ learning journeys offers both creativity and an opportunity for learners to be responsible for and monitor their own work.
Free online portfolio and website builders
There are tones of free online portfolio platforms available, and over the years, I used many – as a student, LMS and portfolios administrator, professional and business owner. They all are similar to a certain extent and allow to include articles, photographs, writing samples, case studies, spreadsheets, documents, multimedia, lesson plans and other projects.
Below I am presenting three professional portfolio platforms that are used and can highly recommend. I am also mentioning one e-portfolio platform widely used in universities, but my experience was not so great.
Google Sites is a super-easy tool with familiar navigation. It is user-friendly and allows for the creation of simple websites. It makes creating and presenting existing resources easy. By integrating all apps and features like Google Hangouts, Drive, Docs, Sheets, and Forms, Google allows users to embed these elements right into their websites by dragging and dropping. If you have a business or education account (also if you are a student), you should find the “Sites” among the apps available to you. For some reason, in my personal account, it is hidden; however, if you can still access it, log in to your Gmail and go to the following URL: https://sites.google.com/, and you should be able to see the Google Sites dashboard.
My favourite platform, which I highly recommend, is an open-source platform called WordPress. There are two versions of it. WordPress.com has a free version, and WordPress.org requires hosting and a domain. WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems for website builders. The variety of themes and an endless list of plugins and features give you complete flexibility to showcase your skills and build your brand. WordPress settings allow you to categorise and organise your portfolio. If you already have a free WordPress.com website, you can add a portfolio to your existing site, creating a one-stop shop for your brand. The WordPress premium package is priced at €4. I use WordPress.org when building websites.
Wix.com is another option to create and customise your digital portfolio. Wix.com has a long list of portfolio templates that you can choose from. SEO can be quite daunting, but the collaboration between Wix and Google has pretty much got you covered. A range of site-integrated SEO and marketing tools, such as the WIX SEO, will help you establish a strong web presence. These tools help you create an optimised site infrastructure and fully SEO-customised meta tags, among other things.
Wix has varied plans for personal and e-commerce needs. The most basic plan is free, and upgrades start at $4.50 per month.
Mahara is an e-portfolio system developed specifically for an educational context. They pride themselves on their learner-centred approach and on the ability to create a Personal Learning Environment. It is a very popular portfolio tool that is integrated within the LMS of many universities.
Having used many other e-portfolio platforms, I was excited about the promise of it being learner- or user-centred. Unfortunately, the first time I used it, I was disappointed. I found it not intuitive. In fact, it was confusing and cluttered (but perhaps this has to do more with the institutions and the LMS platforms it was installed on).
Summarising my notes on digital portfolios
A digital portfolio is a great way to exhibit your best work online. The nice thing about Google Sites, WordPress, and Wix is that these platforms give you the option to share your portfolio with anyone easily and for free. Additionally, if you want to restrict access to your work, the settings for that are also readily available.
If you’re a teacher, you should consider incorporating digital portfolios when assessing student knowledge applications and improvement areas. Digital portfolio assessments can provide both formative and summative opportunities for monitoring progress towards identified outcomes. Set your criteria for content and outcomes, and let students immerse themselves in the world of a digital portfolio.
As a professional, creative, or designer, exhibit your work online and share it on different social media platforms. It will create an image of an experienced professional, an expert in your niche.
Trust me—I am talking from experience. Having an online portfolio has been beneficial for my career. It has connected and exposed me to different markets all over the world.
One final thought: Remember, a digital portfolio should not only display your best work. It should also show lessons learnt and be easy to navigate. Above all else, the most important thing to remember is that your portfolio is telling your personal or brand story, so make it coherent and interesting.
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