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STC Field Trip Seminar at ISU: Designing Your Own E-portfolio

Linda Mellen

You are walking thru Notre Dame, flying to a parapet at the Taj Mahal, plunging into the depths of a cavern with lava jumping around your feet, and ducking a giant swinging pendulum! These are all exciting events and ones you can experience in virtual reality.

Eighteen students from Minnesota State University, Mankato were just beginning their day with a STC field trip at Iowa State University. We were "treated" and treated well by the STC chapter at ISU. We spent the morning in a virtual reality cube complete with a tour through the facilities and a glimpse of their visions for the future—they are trying to include tactile experiences to accompany the visual experience in virtual reality. We toured the ISU library and saw many wall murals painted by the American painter, Grant Wood who painted in the 1930s and who has been recognized most for his painting entitled "The American Gothic".

After being fed a great lunch, we headed to EDS, a corporation involved in the nitty- gritty of technical writing and documentation. We received a helpful and informative overview of the many aspects of technical writing—the teamwork and collaboration that is involved—along with the constant rush to meet deadlines and still produce a polished final document.

We returned to ISU and attended a hands-on seminar about creating an e-portfolio, taught by Dr. Gloria Betcher, a member of the faculty at ISU. Dr. Betcher explained the immense versatility of developing your own portfolio on the web. Most portfolios are designed to meet set standards, purposes, and goals. They are presented for feedback from a particular audience. Your e-portfolio is an excellent assessment tool. It is concrete proof of your ability. The e-portfolio gives you the opportunity to show what you have accomplished along with a forum to explain why you did what you did.

An online portfolio has many benefits over a normal hard copy resume. E-portfolios are not stagnant. They have many elements and facets that allow you as the author to be involved in multi-tasking. Your e-portfolio creates a milieu for collecting your artifacts. It gives your readers the opportunity to link to several other pages that you have created or other author's links that are related to what you are presenting.

Dr. Betcher described the typical e-portfolio as consisting of a home page that has links to several other pages, pages with your artifacts on them, pages that have digitized examples of your work. Planning and design, often on a piece of paper by hand, are crucial to creating a usable site. You need to decide if you want a site with depth or a site that is more longitudinal. You don't want one that is too deep or too shallow.

E-portfolios can be used for many purposes. An academic portfolio is created for and read in an academic context. A professional portfolio is created and read in a professional context, a portfolio to help you in seeking a job or demonstrating your skills. A working portfolio can be very personalized, carrying a large and assorted collection of your previous artifacts and a file of work in progress. You can have a development portfolio that is chronological, showing your very first works to what you are doing now. A best work portfolio can be developed to just show your very best work in its final draft.

Dr. Betcher recommended The Web Portfolio Guide by Miles Kimball as a good reference book for anyone interested in learning more about making your own portfolio. At the end of the seminar, it was very clear the only limitations in your portfolio are those you place on yourself. Your e-portfolio can be a great tool; alive, growing, and evolving just as you do.


Kimball, Miles. 2003. The Web Portfolio Guide: Creating Electronic Portfolios for the Web. New York: Longman.