“Is There a Portfolio in This Community? Tensions in the Use of ePortfolios for Employability Beyond the Academy”

Presentation by Darren Cambridge

Darren Cambridge delivered a wallop of lofty sociological theorizing on Western understandings of self and community integrated with practical applications via specific cases of ePortfolio implementation.  His own portfolio work centers on the Arkansas Community Portfolio Project, which was introduced as one of four possible configurations in a typology derived from a four-fold table with two types of tensions:

INDIVIDUALIST ———————— COLLECTIVIST

AGGREGATIVE   ———————— INTEGRATIVE

I gave this five stars because it’s right where I am in terms of thinking about ePortfolios and right where I perceive the CUNY Online to be re the development of the virtual campus.  Just as George says we are “building and flying” at the same time, Darren addresses the color of the parachute.  So this was less about “When are we going to get there?” and more about “Where are we going and why do we want to be there?”

On the lofty plane Darren positioned the ePortfolio (and earlier print portfolio from which it evolved) as a manifestation of cultural capital, a single-authored artifact which draws together in an aggregative or integrative style the narrative of one individual. However, more collectivist ePortfolio versions have emerged via global diffusion into geographic areas and cultural contexts with higher emphasis on collectives and groups rather than individuals.  Darren understands the aggregative and integrative poles as defining the endpoints of tension concerning how relationships between multiple pieces of evidence are organized.  He understands the individualist contra collectivist tensions within the framework of traditional and contemporary sociological theorizing.

Darren then focused on the question of looking at the portfolio as a collective rather than an individual enterprise with employability as the integration of these two tensions.

In an integrative employability model, says Darren, individuals create a career identity, which is cultivated by a narrative that integrates social capital, human capital and adaptability.  Human capital components include doing good work, expertise and competencies.  Social capital components include ethics and communitarian concerns:  professional contributions to society, personal integrity.

EMPLOYABILITY

Quoting from Nicholas Rose in Powers of Freedom, Darren described the contemporary global problem of unemployment:

Unemployment is now conceptualized as a phenomenon to be governed – through acting on the conduct of the unemployed person, obliging him or her to improve “employability,” by acquiring skills, both substantive skills and skills in acquiring work, obliging the individual to engage in a constant and active search for work…Personal employment and macroeconomic health are to be ensured by encouraging individuals to “capitalize” themselves, to invest in the management, presentation, promotion and enhancement of their own economic capital as a capacity of their selves and as a lifelong project.”

In the current environment, governments insist that individuals take an active role in being “employable” – we must be in a state of constant change and update to be employable.  The portfolio is in this context a tool for development of self – a powerful technology, which in some larger sense allows for “working on the self” toward this goal of being “employable.”

Darren created a four-fold table using his two dimensions of tension and then provided examples for each type thereby produced:

AGGREGATIVE INTEGRATIVE
INDIVIDUALIST NedCar (Holland) UtilVIF (Quebec)
COLLECTIVIST Internet Shiminjuku Augusta Community Portfolio

The first example, NedCar in Holland, is a fairly traditional I/O assessment model.  There are specific KSA’s (knowledge, skills and abilities) needed and it’s the individual’s responsibility to learn them.

Case #1:  NedCar in Holland (Werk.nl)

  • From job-based to project-based industry
  • Document competencies and market them to potential employers
  • Plan retraining

Competency Matching for Employability

  • Choose competency frameworks defined by employers
  • Determine and document competency profile
  • Compare with career profiles
  • Connect to learning activities to fill gaps
  • Match with jobs

The second example, integrative individualist, uses utilVIF in Quebec to illustrate the use of portfolios to document and facilitate the integration of immigrants in three stages.  This type highlights a view of individuals as seeing employment within the context of other parts of lives.  But, again, like the aggregative individualist model, the individual conforms him or herself to adapt to the external demands of employers.

Case #2: utilVIF in Quebec

  • Successful and harmonious integration of immigrants
  • Modular personal portal links services to self representation

The project rolled out in three phases:

Phase 1:  Basic integration

  • Language proficiency
  • Personal profiles
  • Experiences
  • Competence

Phase 2: Work integration

  • Finding employment
  • Performing interviews
  • Local employment culture
  • Starting a business

Phase 3: Daily life

  • Housing
  • Family
  • Banking
  • Leisure
  • Citizenship

The third case, Internet Shiminjuku in Japan, provides and example of aggregative collectivist approaches, in which individuals have responsibility for each other)

Case #3:  Internet Shiminjuku

  • Juki as lifelong institution of learning
  • Juku of citizenship
  • Autonomous, social and tool
  • Firi – respect for social relationship
  • Wa – tinkering for integration

Part of citizenship is contributing to learning of others, thus peer teaching is used to build social capital.

The model features:

  • Regional online learning network
    • Citizen lecturers
    • Citizen participants
  • New career paths
  • New enterprises
  • Digital archives

Teaching in this model is distributed across community – it is not an isolated function of the educational system.

The fourth case represents an integrative collectivist approach.  Here, were look at the whole of the town of Augusta, Arkansas.

Case #4:  Augusta, Arkansas (Darren is working on this)

Augusta is a small impoverished town that needs to find role in new economy with a very successful literacy program based out of a regional health center.

Goals of the Augusta Portfolio

  • Make visible to the world the impressive reading and writing of the people of Augusta
  • Part conversations about Augusta’s heritage, achievements and aspirations
  • Provide and online place to conduct and share such conversations
  • Help people in Augusta develop 21st century literacies
  • Synthesize and communicate a vision of Augusta’s future

Three layers

  • Exhibits – designed by readers and writers in Augusta with the media – digital artifacts, social media conversation – vision more than a reality at this stage
  • Collective representation
  • Individual – this is on the margins.  Darren used a FaceBook example to show a counter example of how individuals can lose control over what gets posted by others to their individual portfolios

In this integrative collectivist model, the two tensions pull against each other— there is a logic for how things are organized – someone is responsible – but all of the pieces fit together as outlined below.

Public Displays of Connections

  • Blogroll and friends lists as messages (Donath and Boyd, 2004)
  • Intentional performance of identity rather than a transparent representation of a social network
    • Note re loss of control in FaceBook
    • “impression management is an inescapably collective process” (2008) Danah boyd as suicide girl
    • self-representation is necessarily a collaborative enterprise
    • widgets connected – you cannot draw a boundary
    • Materially Connected
      • Neither fully productive or consumption
      • Compare to “authorship” and “ownership” and “control”
      • Meaning and functionality dependent on connections  (Perkle 2008)
      • Where’s the text in this context
      • Traditional boundaries are gone

Lots of food for thought and nourishment for integrating thinking and planning while already in flight.  Contact for Darren Cambridge below.  Slides are available on SlideShare.

ncepr.org/Darren

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“ePortfolios Enhance Learning, Assessment and Job Applications”

Benjamin Stephens from Clemson University spoke about the form and function of ePortfolios for outcomes in the undergraduate psychology program. In 2006, Clemson University implemented an ePortfolio program that requires all undergraduates to create and submit a digital portfolio demonstrating Clemson’s general education core competencies.

Students collect work from their classes and elsewhere, connecting (tagging) it to the competencies (Written and Oral Communication; Reasoning, Critical Thinking and Problem Solving; Mathematical, Scientific and Technological Literacy; Social Science and Cross-Cultural Awareness; Arts and Humanities; and Ethical Judgment) throughout their undergraduate experience.

Benjamin discussed the difference between general education ePortfolios vs. resumes explaining that ePortfolios may assist supervisors in becoming more aware of an applicant’s knowledge, skills and abilities. A study was conducted by Clemson in which recruiters from a career fair and students rated four types of applications for the position of career counselor: paper resume, web resume, ePortfolio and interactive resume. Resumes were seen as more easily understood than ePortfolios and ePortfolios which included resumes were viewed more favorably. ePortfolios and interactive resumes were rated as having the most impact on the job outcome. While ePortfolios and interactive resumes had the same amount of information, participants rated ePortfolios as having the most information out of the four types of applications.

Interactive resumes seemed to be a better fit when used to apply for a job — a middle ground. That is not to say that ePortfolios aren’t necessary because the hyperlinks from the interactive resume link to different parts of a a student’s ePortfolio. Benjamin explained that he plans to survey employers to get a better understanding of how ePortfolios can best be utilized in the hiring process.

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“How ePortfolio Transformed Our Students, Faculty and Program: The BC SEEK ‘Benchmarks for Success’

Presentation by Martha Bell, Sharona Levy, and Longfeng Gao

This was a session focused much more on ideas and strategies (and successful ones!) than on technologies. Martha Bell, Sharona Levy, and Longfeng Gao of Brooklyn College explained how they are using a very specific eportfolio program that they call “Benchmarks for Success” to work with their SEEK students (who are admitted to Brooklyn College, but without the kinds of academic preparation that most Brooklyn College students have).

The program, which started with paper portfolios and has now switched to “e,” has been phenomenally successful–some key indicators–not all attributable to the eportfolios, but they have certainly played a role in all of these.

  • 100% of SEEK students pass the CPE (this is amazing–a figure that, Sharona was kind to point out ;), even the Macaulay students at Brooklyn can not equal).
  • Huge increases in retention and graduation rates.

    All members of the program (including office staff-who are often overlooked) participate in developing and evaluating the benchmarks.

  • Focus on specific benchmarks (success in early accomplishment of the speech assessment, financial aid expertise) that the program needs to know about but which may not be precisely academic.
  • Clarity on program goals and ideas about outcomes.
  • Students see the task as effort, and it is difficult, but they also (sometimes later on) see the value.
  • Graduates of the program work to do evaluation.
  • Even the Middle States evaluators (!!) mentioned the program in very positive terms.

The program works with very specific benchmarks or goals for the students–a whole wide range of goals–things like decorum and appropriate address, using a syllabus, seeing the importance of tutoring, pre-writing and drafting, reading and annotating–a large collections of essential skills they want students to achieve. And they’re all spelled out clearly for students, and then students, in their eportfolios, provide a written response and a piece of evidence for each of these benchmarks.

It’s all required, and all evaluated (by those graduate students).

The session was excellent–very interesting to me for a couple of reasons. First is that at Macaulay, our eportfolios are not as goal-driven or structured. These eportfolios at BC SEEK are like a contract–every student sees exactly what they have to do, and they must fulfill that contract. Ours allow students to set their own goals and determine their own purposes. It was good to see the contrast, and to think about the different needs of different groups of students. I wonder if SEEK students could also benefit from more of the creativity and open-ended approach we promote, and if our students could benefit from more of the direction and distinct structures of the Benchmarks for Success.

I was also interested to see that the Benchmarks, in the way they’re set up and in the types of evidence that students provide, also include a good deal of what I’ve seen as so exciting and inspiring in Sharona Levy’s work in the past–the idea of annotation as a way to think (particularly in reading) more deeply and critically.

These eportfolios focus on “transportable skills”–which students need to succeed in all their classes.

A fascinating session and I think there are models here that should definitely be shared with other SEEK (or similar) programs–as well as programs of different types.

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AAEEBL News

Helen Barrett stresses the importance of reflections in a presentation scheduled for tomorrow in Mumbai: 

Blurring the Boundaries: 
Social Networking & ePortfolio Development  

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ePortfolios at CUNY

Welcome to our ePortfolio page on the CUNY Academic Commons.  You might want to check the ePortfolio Projects at CUNY Colleges on the Best Practices Wiki.   And I have pasted below the results of our survey of colleges.

 

Level of Activity

Funding

Tech Fees

Platform

Scope

Baruch

 

 

 

 

 

BMCC

Piloting

Implementing

No

Yes

Johns Hopkins System

Teacher Education, Career Development

BCC

Planning, Piloting, Implementing,

Evaluating

Title V

Yes

Digication

Honors, Art, Education, Paralegal/ 300 students

City Tech

Implementing,

Evaluating

Start-up with Title V

Yes

Dreamweaver/

Open source

9 departments /800 students

City College

Planning

MC

No

Expo

Gen Ed, Humanities, Science, Education

CSI

Piloting

MC

No

Digication

Education

CUNY SPS Online

Planning

Piloting

MC

No

Digication

Communication and Culture/ Business

Grad Center

 

 

 

 

 

Hostos

Planning, Piloting, Implementing,

Evaluating (?)

Perkins

Yes

Digication

Education, Clip, Freshman Academy (60 students)

Hunter

Piloting

No

No

DK

School of Ed.

Journalism

 

 

 

 

 

John Jay

Planning

MC

No

DK

English and History

KCC

Planning Implementing

 

No

Yes

Digication

Early Childhood   Sociology

Nursing

LaGuardia

Planning, Piloting, Implementing, Evaluating

Yes

Yes

Concord/

Piloting new system with Sakai

11,000 students

Law

None

 

 

 

 

Lehman

Planning,

Piloting,

Implementing,

Evaluating

MC

No

Digication

Education

 

 

 

Macaulay

Implementing/

Evaluating

No

No

WordPress plus buddypress, bbpress, assorted plug-ins

1200 students

Medgar

Planning

No

No

CK

Education

Queens

Planning,

Piloting,

Implementing

Evaluating

MC

Plan to

Sea Monkey, Google Sites

Graduate School of Library Sciences, Secondary Education, SEEK Freshman Year, TESOL

QCC

Implementation/

Evaluation

Perkins

No

Epsilen

Business, Nursing, Liberal Arts

York

Piloting

No

No

WordPressMU

10 professsors/ 400 students  in ENG, Writing, Teacher Ed, MUS, PHIL

 

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