ePortfolio as a tool for curating a professional online persona in the 21st century

Note: This story originally appeared on the Mount Holyoke College LITS web site, on the LITS-faculty collaboration page. I love seeing all the things my colleagues are doing with faculty and students.

“What do you find when you Google yourself?”
“What experiences are you most proud of?”
“Who do you want to find you when they search for you online?”

These are some of the questions students grappled with during an eportfolio creation sprint in fall 2016. Library, Information and Technology Services (LITS) staff Nick Baker, Megan Brooks, and Caro Pinto partnered with Nexus Director and Professor of Sociology Eleanor Townsley to offer a 3-session crash course in eportfolio development for Nexus students taking College 211: Reflecting Back: Connecting Internship and Research to Your Liberal Arts Career.

Students in Nexus are particularly well-positioned to create eportfolios. Not only do these students have a major, which requires they delve into a discipline, but they also have a Nexus, which requires them to explore a pre-professional track broadly across the curriculum. Nexus students participate in an internship, present publicly at the LEAP Symposium, and often participate in other co-curricular, athletic, activist, and social activities. The eportfolio provides them with a location to bring those disparate experiences together into a cohesive whole.

Students in the eportfolio creation sprint engaged in a lively discussion with one another and LITS staff around questions of online identity. Several hadn’t searched for themselves online before and the results alternately surprised, dismayed, and relieved them. This exercise forced them think about how they wanted to craft their online identity going forward, whether in Mount Holyoke’s ePortfolio platform, on other platforms like LinkedIn, or on a personal website. Megan Irgens ’17, said, “Creating an eportfolio made me more aware of what I was putting online on my social media and how I wanted people to view my professional side.”

After grappling with questions of online identity, students wrote personal narratives to provide the foundation for their eportfolios. Saumya Sudhir ‘17 noted that this, “enabled us to find our voice and showcase it in a professional setting.” They gathered documentation of the experiences they wanted to highlight – photos from internship experiences, written papers, videos of performances, and more – and used those as evidence in their eportfolios. Each student personalized her eportfolio so it made the most sense for her personal story and online presence. After giving the eportfolios a couple of weeks to marinate, the students gathered with LITS staff, Townsley, and Nexus Coordinator Katie Walker to present their draft eportfolios to one another and receive praise and constructive criticism. Jocelyn Mosman ‘17 reflected, “…I thought the process was great! Very insightful! I loved how much emphasis was put on making it accessible.”

Each student came away with an eportfolio, content to use on other platforms like LinkedIn, and an understanding of the practice of curating a professional online persona in the 21st century. If your students would benefit from a similar experience, please contact your LITS Liaison for more information.

Published by Megan