By Emily Cook, TLS staff writer

In a course about human-computer interaction, cuPortfolio is giving students the opportunity to exercise design thinking, and to realize their potential in a changing world.

Bruce Tsuji’s graduate class, Fundamentals of Human Computer Interaction and Usability Testing, brings together students from over seven disciplines who have a keen interest in technology but who do not necessarily have backgrounds in web development or coding. However, many of these students eventually end up with jobs at mega corporations like Amazon, Apple, Google and Shopify, Tsuji says, because they bring an understanding of how people and computers get along together.

Tsuji says he has been using cuPortfolio for the past couple of years to help students reflect on their skills and how they fit in a broader context. He says it helps them understand how their backgrounds in seemingly unrelated subjects, such as English literature or architecture, could be of value to those iconic companies.

“The process of reflection is something that is much more interesting in a dynamic tool like cuPortfolio than it might otherwise be on a more conventional resume,” he says. “I’ve never met a resume that didn’t immediately put me to sleep, but some of the cuPortfolios that these students have put together are amazing because they reflect on skills that sometimes I had not considered.”

In a multi-disciplinary course, Tsuji says cuPortfolio acts as a leveler –allowing everyone to express creativity, regardless of technological skills. He also incorporates an element of peer review as the students build their portfolios. By doing this in the context of multiple disciplines, Tsuji says students are able to learn different approaches, skills and capabilities from each other.

“They end up looking over each other’s shoulder, metaphorically, and learning about how the tool might be used in ways they haven’t yet thought about,” he says.

This dynamic, multi-disciplinary course environment does make assessment difficult however, Tsuji says. He assesses visual interest and basic graphic design, but more than anything he says he wants the portfolios to show a concrete reflection of students’ skills and development.

“If someone’s portfolio makes me want to read more of it, to look at more of it, to explore more of it – well that’s a pretty good thing,” he says.

For those instructors who are interested in incorporating cuPortfolio into their course, but who may be a little fearful, Tsuji advises they should make a portfolio themselves.

“Find out what parts were difficult for you, find out what parts were enlightening, that facilitated better understanding of your own skills and your own accomplishments,” he says. “I think that’ll be a really key element in order for you to successfully integrate or introduce cuPortfolio in one or more of your own courses.”

To find out more about Tsuji’s experience with cuPortfolio, watch the full interview below. You can also watch interviews with other instructors on the cuPortfolio instructor peer support site.

Below is a list of time codes related to the start of a new question in the video. You can jump to a new topic by moving the video time bar to the respective time codes.

4:04 – What value did cuPortfolio add to your course?
5:27 – Did you use peer review as students built their portfolios?
6:28 – How do you assess student ePortfolios?
8:37 – What advice do you have for an instructor who is thinking about using cuPortfolio in their teaching?

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