By Allie Davidson, EDC Educational Technology Development Coordinator
In the past year, you may have heard about Carleton’s ePortfolio system, cuPortfolio. Maybe you noticed emails in your inbox about how the tool is being used across the university or maybe you heard about it from a colleague who has tried it out in their class. Most people I’ve spoken to recently about the tool say they know of it, but are not sure exactly what it is.
So, what is this tool and what is all the fuss about?
Before we dive into the details about cuPortfolio, let’s start with the basics: What is an ePortfolio?
An ePortfolio, or electronic portfolio, is an online space where students are able document their skills, knowledge and learning progress. In their ePortfolio, students can include different learning related artifacts, such as course assignments, projects, papers, awards, or pictures and videos of relevant learning experiences.
At first glance, an ePortfolio is a useful organizational tool – it keeps a student’s work in one place and makes this content easily accessible to the student for later reference or to share with others. But an ePortfolio is more than that; it’s a learning tool (and a powerful one at that!).
The key to learning with an ePortfolio is reflection. Along with collecting artifacts, students also record reflections in their portfolio on their learning progress. As students build their portfolios, these reflective entries help them dig deeper into their learning experiences and become more aware of personal and intellectual growth.
Reflection also helps students integrate their learning and make connections between their different learning experiences – they can draw parallels between different assignments in their portfolio, connect experiences from outside the classroom to theories, skills, or concepts learned in class, and see the evolution of their thinking across time by tabbing through their portfolio.
The ePortfolio acts as the venue for this meaning making and integrative thinking to happen; it provides a space for students to collect their work, think about the connections between the different learning experiences represented by their learning artifacts, and make sense of their learning as a whole.
An ePortfolio can be used within a course or across a program. In a course, a student can build a portfolio in one term that holds their course work, reflections on their progress, and insights on their learning. At the program level, students can use the tool to make meaningful connections between their different courses, document the development of certain program-level competencies or skills, and see the progression of their thinking across multiple years.
Students can also use an ePortfolio when applying for a job. They can publish their portfolio publicly and add the link to their portfolio on a resume or their LinkedIn profile. The portfolio can provide a potential employer with concrete evidence of a student’s skills or abilities and help a student set themselves out from the rest of the crowd with a unique application.
Ok, so I get what an ePortfolio is, but now what is cuPortfolio?
cuPortfolio is Carleton’s electronic portfolio software. It is powered by Mahara, an ePortfolio software that is compatible with Moodle, which is the system that powers cuLearn. Mahara allows students to make multiple portfolios, share their portfolio content with instructors, peers, and/or the public, and submit a portfolio to cuLearn for grading.
Students have access to cuPortfolio for two years after they graduate. After this point, they can export their ePortfolio content and save it to their computer or upload it to a new online space, such as a personal website or publically available ePortfolio site.
cuPortfolio is available to all Carleton students, staff and instructors and is fully supported by the university. We have support staff available to help instructors use the tool in their teaching and support staff for students who can visit your class to introduce them to cuPortfolio and meet with students one-on-one for technical support. We also have an extensive online support site with technical instructions on how to do basically anything in cuPortfolio!
We also recently created a cuPortfolio instructor peer support page with video interviews of different instructors speaking about their teaching experience with cuPortfolio. You can check out the resource here.
If you are interested in learning more about cuPortfolio, you can reach out to me, Allie Davidson (firstname.lastname@example.org, ext. 8829), to book an appointment or to chat on the phone.