“This eportfolio has given me an opportunity to pause and look back at not only my accomplishments at Tunxis, but all of my accomplishments thus far in my life. It has reinvigorated me to keep working towards my goals and has brought them into sharper focus.” – Kerry Yingling
ePortfolio began at Tunxis as a faculty-driven initiative, as do all big projects on the campus. The initial faculty members were naturally drawn to ePortfolio as a tool for enhancing different types of classrooms: first-year writing, career path courses, and First Year Experience. Students compiled work throughout the semester and submitted their work in a final ePortfolio. The tool worked, though the software was rudimentary and limiting in scope at the beginning, by attracting people who saw the reflective and inquisitive possibilities with such an initiative.
As team members began attending Making Connections at LaGuardia Community College, the time spent with colleagues from other colleges and universities, and especially the time of focused conversation on the train to and from New York, allowed ideas to flourish and evolve. Joining Connect 2 Learning elevated the project on campus because of its national recognition. In addition, the work with the jams forced us to be more deliberate in our work as we had to articulate the reasoning for an assignment or approach and the pedagogical influences behind the development of ideas. As C2L’s framework evolved, so did our ePortfolio practices, professional development activities, and assessment of evidence.
Working with colleagues from across the nation has allowed us to develop richer practices for our campus. The feedback during the jams and discussions during the summer institutes has been invaluable to our work over the past three years. It is easy to get absorbed in our own campus challenges while growing a project, but the positive encouragement from the other campuses has given us confidence to push forward with the project semester after semester. The various perspectives we saw from our colleagues’ work has influenced our activities.
With these benefits, the challenges of participating were minor. Sometimes the feedback during the jams was not helpful because our colleagues did not fully understand the culture of our campus and we felt the same when reading their practices. Details in the projects may be unique to each campus and it is difficult to explain clearly those nuances. However, as we worked on our campus ePortfolio, we had to keep outside audiences in mind to clarify our work so that it could be useful to others. In doing so, we have been able to understand what needs to improve in our practices so that they can be more effective for our students. So, the challenge of participating has turned into a benefit.
Moving forward, we need to continue to grow on campus with fewer resources. Our C2L work has allowed us to create a strong foundation for ePortfolio on campus, giving us an advantage over schools building without such outside support. We have the Catalyst site as a reference as we continue to lead the campus. The strengths of our project are in the career programs, and we look forward to using our success there, as well as the models of other colleges and universities, to expand into our General Studies and Liberal Arts & Sciences programs. When ePortfolio becomes an integral part of those majors, then most students at Tunxis will use their ePortfolio to enhance the reflective, social, and inquisitive possibilities in their work.
As you review the pages in this section, you will see evidence of how and why the project has been working for us on campus, and the ways in which C2L has helped us assess the project over the past three years.
Jen, Marguerite, George, and Amy