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New Faculty Resource ePortfolios–NEFDC workshop

Lehman College introduced a Teaching & Learning Commons this past year to bring together faculty, students, and staff around teaching and learning activities at the College.  In our first year, we have been working with the new faculty to provide a more comprehensive orientation to the physical and virtual campus than in previous years; we are introducing new faculty orientation seminars and workshops as part of this process.

This fall, we met for informal group discussion with representatives of resource programs in

–Teaching and Research
–Campus & IT
–Student Support & Student Life
–Governance, Assessment, & Strategic Planning

As a support for the discussions, I designed a portal/development ePortfolio for the new faculty on Digication. The ePortfolio includes tabs for each of the above areas with links and pdfs to College resources; there are two additional tabs for tracking professional development and service so that each faculty member can upload the department expectations for tenure and promotion along with his or her research, teaching, and service activities. The aim is to hybridize the ePortfolio as a resource tool to make Lehman more accessible to faculty and as a development platform for new faculty to begin pulling together their plans and materials as they advance in their academic careers.

At the recent New England Faculty Development Consortium in Worcester, Massachusetts, on November 19, I presented a workshop on the ePortfolio as an opportunity to share work in progress and to facilitate other administrators and faculty in developing their own resource ePortfolios. Trent Batson, Executive Director for AAEEBL, was one of the workshop participants, and we had a good mix of new and mid-tenure faculty as well as college/university administrators. Except for myself, the audience was New England based, representing institutions from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Vermont.

I used a small group facilitation approach to the workshop and asked participants to define faculty success in their first activity. Participants were then assigned into groups of twos and threes to apply their definitions to one of five dynamics—goals, process, time, communication, and resources. We collected the main ideas from these discussions on a whiteboard and made connections between the dynamics, the definitions, and the institutional needs we were bringing to the discussion.

This was a great opportunity to talk about the importance of morale in the current economic and political crisis, which then led back to the importance of connecting faculty to resources and opportunities to develop further capacities and community within and across institutions.

We then looked at a PowerPoint illustrating plans and implementation of Lehman’s new faculty resource ePortfolio and integrated what we were seeing with our previous discussions. The group was interested to see the Digication template as well as the sample I had created from my own professional history. Trent Batson pointed out that the ePortfolio was largely a portal rather than what he considers to be ePortfolio as pedagogy—we then discussed the development and service areas of the ePortfolio and their contrast and complementarity with the resources. Batson then referred to the workshop format and activities (think-pair-share, jigsaw, punctuated assessment, and short written reflections), saying “This is ePortfolio!”

The group moved into discussions of their own goals and plans for resource ePortfolios at their institutions and came up with principles for implementation as well as a few new projects to explore. Sue Castriotta from Keene University, tweeted throughout the session (#NEFDC) and provided a link to our brainstorm board.

The response was overwhelmingly positive—I came away having heard and experienced the desire for interactive sessions that involve participants in teaching and learning and that encourage immediate application and feedback. This may be the future for faculty ePortfolio work—reminding us that we are all students engaged in what engages us.

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