ePortfolio Program Design: Engagement Considerations

As I design my ePortfolio modules for pre-professional mass communications undergrads in eLC and think about their engagement, I keep coming back to needing to make participants feel like this work is important. I’ve been surprised at how few students coming in to the university have never created a digital portfolio before. Not only do I need to acquaint learners with what an ePortfolio is, I need to emphasize all the ways creating and maintaining an ePortfolio benefits them on a personal and professional level. Emphasizing its usefulness will be important from the beginning and throughout the program to keep students motivated and to remind them why they are engaging in this activity. I think I might be able to do that by sprinkling throughout the modules examples of exemplary portfolios, quotes or research related to eportfolios and what employers are seeking, articles about the process and value of folio thinking.

I’m hoping that the individual interest part of engagement will naturally exist because the ePortfolio deals directly with my students’ interests in multimedia communication. That said, I do know I will still need to include a lot of support in various ways, including guides for the different project options and presentation modes. I definitely need to include many different project options to increase the likelihood of individual interest, feelings of empowerment, and success.

Another thing I’m really struggling with thinking about is how to infuse caring into this sequence of modules. How can I motivate students by making them feel I and/or their peers care about their progress if instruction is delivered mostly asynchronously? Are once a semester face-to-face checkups enough? Do I respond when students hit various milestones in their progress through the modules? Can the eLC discussion board help me here? Do I create some sort of synchronous in-person or online event(s) where students can showcase and receive feedback on their eportfolio? How can I infuse more of that caring or community element that engages learners without making them feel like I’m making them do something boring or useless?

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