Why Your Online ePortfolio Matters
Updated: Dec 15, 2022
ePortfolios and an online social media presence are the resume of the future, and you will need them if you want to get that job over the next applicant.
No Online ePortfolio Today is like No CV on Paper in 1980
A bit ago, a friend told me that she was primed to hire a new nanny until she had Googled her and found public posts on the girl's Facebook about her drug use, partying, and other things that ultimately concerned my friend enough she didn't give her the job.
Should your personal life remain just that: personal and private? Yes. Will it? No. The reality is employers are making hiring choices everyday based on what they see online. Your online presence is the 2nd impression someone will have of you just after viewing your resume.
Recently I was asked to review resumes for a new Educational Technology Specialist position. We received 100s of resumes. In order to cut them down to a manageable list we have to scan them all for specific things first: Degrees. Experience. And, for me, an online ePortfolio.
Why? Because I want to see examples of the applicant's work. I want to see proof that they are innovative enough to meet the job duties. This means they can make screencasts; that they can create step-by-step tutorials for teachers; that they have some knowledge of instructional design principals by showing me an example course online; that they are active in online educational technology groups; and anything else they want to show me as proof of their capabilities. A resume cannot show all this. An ePortfolio can. And if an applicant cannot make their own ePortfolio then how can I assume they are innovative enough to help teachers use them with students?
Many of the resumes not only lacked a social presence online, but had no portfolio at all, not even just paper-based if not digital. Having no social presence online at all isn't any better than having one you will regret. In today's world that looks a bit dodgy. And, for educational technology professionals it doesn't make them look very innovative as compared to those applicants next to them who have fancy ePortfolios online.
The world has changed. People and employers expect to find out about you online. And they will. They will look you up. What they see when they look you up is ultimately your choice. You can decide what your online social presence will be. And, make no doubt about it, it WILL affect your ability to get a job. Whether that is fair or not doesn't signify as it is just the reality of the world today. And for learning technology professionals, having an online presence is key to looking like you are hip and innovative enough to work in the fast changing world of educational technology at modern universities.
Just as you do on your resume, create an online social presence and ePortfolio that exhibits the professional face you want to put forward. Build yourself a professional online ePortfolio that offers employers a view of the visuals, objects, and deliverables that represent your best work.
ePortfolios and professional websites are the resumes of the future. The paper resume will become nothing more than a quick introduction to your degrees and work history, with links to your online social media and ePortfolios where employers can learn and see more.
Some of my recommended tools for building a digital ePortfolio:
Weebly: This is a website creator that is extremely easy to use. With its drag-n-drop interface and pre-made templates, anyone can create a very professional looking ePortfolio quickly. It allows a lot of control over the layout and design. I use Weebly for my professional ePortfolio: http://rogers-estable-eportfolio.weebly.com/
Pathbrite: A newer tool, this ePortfolio creator makes a Pinterest-type-board of your best work. I would say this one is best used with graphics, media and photography students due to the visual nature of it over control of layout as you can with Weebly.
Tumblr: Tumblr is a fantastic blogging and portfolio tool. I use it for this blog. Many graphics, media and photography professionals are on it as well, so it is not only a great place to create an ePortfolio but a great place to connect with other creative professionals.
Behance: This one is another ePortfolio tool geared for creative professionals.
Wix: Another drag-n-drop website maker like Weebly, I have heard that some people really like it. I prefer Weebly personally, but, you should review both and choose the tool that works best for you.
Foliofor.me: This ePortfolio tool is based on the open source tool Mahara.
WordPress / Blogger : Many use Wordpress type sites to create their professional blog and ePortfolio space.
Joomla: this one has a steeper learning curve than others, but, will allow you to create an interactive dynamic website and ePortfolio.
About.me: (ePortfolio Mashup) - this one is more of an aggregator of links to all your online social media accounts and ePortfolios. But, this can be a nice one-stop-shop page with links to all-things-you. This is a good item to create if you have a Twitter account.
Google Sites: there are some who really like integrating Google apps for their ePortfolio (Google Site, Google Docs, Google Plus page, etc). I personally find that a Google Site looks like a static website from 1995 than a dynamic one from 2014 and there is also little social media integration. But some people love this tool and do well with it.
What NOT to use:
Do not use LinkedIN. Yes, you should have a LInkedIN page. No, it should not be your ePortfolio. I know that LinkedIn is adding in ePortfolio options now, but the fact remains that a LinkedIN page is nothing more than a regurgitation of your resume. It doesn't allow you to build a unique space that represents you as a person and your skills in a unique way that truly lets people get to know you. All LinkedIn sites look the same and it is hard to make yourself standout there. You should have a LinkedIn page, but, it should not be your official ePortfolio.
Things to consider when making your ePortfolio:
Choose a tool that will be easy for you to learn to use. The better you can use it, the better your final site will look.
Choose a tool that makes sense. If you are a photographer, than use Tumblr or Behance where you can connect with other photographers. In the case of educational technology professionals, I personally chose Weebly and Joomla for my ePortfolio tools as they allowed me the most control over structure and design.
Choose a tool that fits into your busy life. For me that meant switching to tools I could update from my iPad. For example, in the past my blog was at my website and could not be added to or updated unless I logged in on a computer. But, I work on computers all day and when I get home I do not want to be in my home office on the desktop computer. So, I changed my blog over to Tumblr that allows me to quickly and easily update my blog from my iPad from anywhere in my home. What a difference! Many of the tools listed above can not only be created from a laptop, but also from the tool iPad / mobile phone apps. Be sure to choose the tool that is best for your needs and life.
Create a unique look. You want your ePortfolio to standout. That is why I recommend against using LinkedIn for it. Make it unique - have it show who you are as a person as well as professionally.
Have Social Media, but ONLY if you update them. It is important to connect with others through social media. I learn a lot from my personal learning networks online. However, for example, do not have a Twitter page if you never update it or use it. Having a dead-account is worse than not having one. For this reason I have thought about dumping my Google+ page, as I just don't updated it or use it very much. Only create pages you will keep active and alive - then list them on your ePortfolio as a great way for professionals in the field to connect with you.
What your ePortfolio ought to have:
Link to Resume - or a link to your LinkedIN pg (which is just a digital resume).
Expanded Work Experience - you could create one page per main skill. For example, on my ePortfolio, I dedicated one page just to my instructional design skills and philosophies, with a link to my Course Sites account where the viewer may actually see some courses I have designed.
Goals & Objectives - write about your professional goals and where you see your career going.
Philosophy - write about your educational technology philosophy, and share your professional insights.
Reflection - write about your ongoing learning and reflections on your profession. This can be a blog, or a type of learning journal. This could include reflections and reviews about conferences and training you attend.
Currency - list training and conferences you attend.
Awards - show the awards and honors you have received. See Peter's ePortfolio below for examples of this.
Video Introduction - create a nice video introduction to who you are.
Research and Papers - list any research or writing you have done.
Connections - links to your social media online at which professionals can connect with you.
Artifacts/Items/Projects - You have to show employers what you can DO. Don't just talk about it - show it!
Put links to: screencasts you have created, step-by-step guides and training resources you created for teachers, courses you designed, papers you have written, studies or surveys you have conducted, videos you made for teachers, and anything else that shows solid visual evidence of your innovative educational technology skills.