Many of you are or soon will be contemplating creating an ePortfolio for the Excellence in Communication Certificate
. (If you have not yet signed up for the ECC, do so here
. Or send any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Whether you create the ePortfolio to fulfill your communication requirement or because you want to have an online record of your communication skills to share with potential graduate programs, law schools, or future employers, you'll need to start somewhere. As I've been meeting with juniors and seniors in the process of revising and completing their portfolios, I've clarified my own sense of what makes an excellent ePortfolio.
1. Guiding Themes. While your essay on Eddie Murphy from your comedic writing class or your This I Believe speech on the Baltimore Orioles from LA101H might be unique examples of communication, the components in an ePortfolio should be selected to represent several guiding themes. The ePortfolio should read like a themed collection, rather than a random hodgepodge of unrelated but strong work. A sense of YOU should emerge by the end.
2. What Makes a Strong Guiding Theme? To choose yours, think beyond your major. Instead, think about why you chose your major, what motivates you (in communication situations and beyond), and what should future employers/schools know about you? How have your ideas about communication and its place in the world (or your future career) changed over your time in college?
3. Flexibility. Because the simplest pieces to include may not be the best representation of your themes, flexibility is paramount. A recent student told me of her plan to use a speech from early in her college career for her audio component because it was already taped. As we talked, it became clear that this speech did not really represent her major intellectual/personal themes. We decided that, instead, she'd create an audio file to attach to a PowerPoint presentation from her thesis that she already intended to include as her visual component. The new PowerPoint-with-audio-commentary will cover both the visual and oral modes and will give a much better glimpse of her expertise in her major.
4. Forethought. Be thinking already about what might represent you well in an ePortfolio. The best portfolios will include pieces that were written with the goal of representing yourself to future (not just classroom) audiences. For example, one student wants her portfolio to demonstrate
intercultural interests and thus is already planning to blog during her
summer abroad. So, when you take a course in your major that requires a research paper, choose a topic that represents your passions and interests, and express to your professor your desire to write a paper that seriously engages expert sources. If you are engaging in service learning or community activism, save documents you write, archive fliers/posters you create, and record speeches/talks that you give. This evidence of your communication breadth will come in handy and will be hard to recreate after the fact.
I hope this gives you some idea of what you can be thinking about in the semesters before you create your own e-Portfolio! If you have any questions about the ECC, email email@example.com