e-Portfolio Pilot Launch

I need to start writing this down before I begin to forget. Or it becomes a blur. Crystal, my advising partner, and I met with our first e-portfolio pilot students today. In our little breakroom where we haven’t had the time to put up our Christmas lights yet. All three of my students made their 45 minute appointments. One of our worries is that the best students self-selected and that our pilot students are the cream of the crop–over-achievers. We decided we needed more information and threw together this demographic half sheet over the weekend. We didn’t want to ask these questions in the intake survey they all completed to apply for the program.

I still can’t believe we had over sixty students want to give it a try. From that number, we took fifty, mostly based on whether they would stick with us at least a year, and not be ready to apply to Grady College, until next fall. So far, the three students I’ve spoken with have not created an e-portfolio before. This was a new experience for them, and I tried to convey my excitement at the journey they were about to undertake. Enthusiasm is important. I hope I conveyed it.

Mostly this morning, I felt panicked and unready. We decided the week before that we needed our appointments to have more structure, so we envisioned an appointment as coinciding with Gagne’s nine events of instruction.

From their notes and stories, they seem like a diverse lot. I’m interested to see what else the short demographic survey will reveal about the diversity of our sample. I’m also interested to see what kinds of unforeseen glitches we run into along the way. Already, it’s amounted to slightly more email–emails about not getting the original Foliotek emails, for example. Emails to our vendor contact about features we’re just figuring out as we become more familiar with our students’ views. We stumble through. They seem pretty forgiving so far, though. And, dare I say–excited!

We thought the appointments were somewhat awkward. Maybe because we were asking them to do something–to be more engaged in the advising process than we have become accustomed to experiencing with our students. Maybe because we were no longer just giving them information. We were attempting to guide them on a learning journey, some process along which we both hoped the student would emerge changed.

My last appointment of the day happened to be with my most enthusiastic advisee. She was committed to leadership and community service–an exceptional student who founded a charity with her siblings a couple years prior. Any lingering doubts I had about the value of this project faded when this young woman, after initially struggling to remember password and how to log in to Foliotek, said “This is a really good idea.” After she looked at the proposed mandatory self-assessment project and her other project choices, she said: “I’m glad I signed up for this.”

Tomorrow, Crystal and I will reflect on our first appointments and see what needs tweaking. I’ve created a student management spreadsheet to track the portfolio students’ progress through their various milestones: first project, second project, registration cleared. Soon we have to start creating those post-evaluations. I keep putting the whole evaluation plan on hold. All I can think about is how I can’t wait to see their projects.

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