In this module, you begin your journey toward an online portfolio by browsing portfolios from the previous semester. In doing so, you will learn what you might like in a portfolio, become familiar with the key features of portfolios, and begin to form ideas for your own portfolio. We know you’re looking forward to getting started, and these activities are designed to help you do just that. We look forward to getting to know you and seeing the capstone portfolio you’ll create!

In this week’s video, you’ll meet Spencer Greenhalgh, one of the Teaching Assistants for this course. Spencer will introduce himself, overuse the word “exciting,” and battle a train for audio supremacy. Somewhere in there, he will also tell you about Module 1 and what you’re expected to do to complete it!

Some quick reminders:

  • Always feel free to contact us with any questions using the “Contact Us” link at the top of the menu.
  • Make sure to start early on each module and don’t wait until right before the due date!
Missions in this module are due by May 22nd (at or before 11:59pm Eastern Time). We encourage you to begin early in the week – it is not possible to complete the entire module at the last minute.


In the Shinies section of each module, you’ll find useful information and hidden gems, and we’ll explain our thinking behind each module. That is, nothing in the “Shinies” section will ever be “required” reading each week, but there will be good stuff that will help provide a richer educational experience.

What are “Shinies?”

In the Capstone Course, we mean “shinies” to be useful, good information. The term, however, comes from a more colloquial source. [Read more about it here]

Why look at past portfolios?

The main activity in this module will be to look at portfolios from the previous semester. Why do this? There are several reasons. [Read more about it here]

Why do we group students into houses?

Students in the Capstone Course are placed in virtual houses: groups of people who routinely give helpful feedback. [Read more about it here]

What are the results of the survey?

The results of the introductory survey may help you see where you are relative to the rest of the class (you’re not alone!). [Read more about it here]

Why is the course designed the way it is?

There are any number of ways (perhaps an infinite number!) to design a course such as this one. We’ve chosen an open education approach in which the course is open to the world and built from many different pieces of technology. Why did we do this? [Read more about the rationale for the design of the course.]

Should I turn in partial work or wait until I am done?

In this class, it is better to get something for a Mission posted on time (like a draft of your résumé) and to improve upon it as we go than to wait for everything to be perfect. There will be time to revise and improve later. [Read more about it here]

🔗Mission 1

picture of binoculars

Overview—Learning about portfolios

In this Mission, you will learn about portfolios by viewing the portfolios created by students who have already finished this course. You will then email the creator of one of these portfolios and share the email on this page with our class. You will do this in the following four steps (some of which involve a few sub-steps):

Survey past portfolios

  • View at least 10 portfolios to get a good idea of what past students have created. We recommend that you click randomly throughout the list so that every student from the semester has an equal chance to be showcased (rather than just the first 10). Spend an hour or so doing this activity.
  • Look for portfolios that: (a) are closest to your own background and experiences, (b) have nice features or thoughts that you might wish to incorporate in your own work, (c) have a résumé that looks the way you’d like yours to look (be sure to pay close attention to the résumés because one of your first Missions will be to create one of your own), and (d) have a substantial amount of work linked from the showcase page.
  • Write lots of notes to yourself. Take notes about things you like about the portfolios and specific ideas you’d like to emulate in your own portfolio. You will no doubt also see some things that do not appeal to you, such as color choices, readability of text, navigation, use of photos, and so on. Design tastes vary, so be thinking about your ‘style’ and ‘voice’ as you begin sketching out how you want your web portfolio to look. You will use these notes when you discuss this experience with your housemates.
  • Click on this list to get access to the portfolios from last semester and begin your review.

Take a poll

  • Now that you’ve surveyed the portfolios from the previous semester and chosen your favorite, it’s time to tell us which one you chose and why. Click here to take the poll.

Email the author of your favorite portfolio

  • Email the person whose portfolio you selected (their contact information should be on their website somewhere). Make sure you write in your own voice.
  • Please make sure you you put “Capstone Portfolio Course” in the subject line and include “capstone_instructors@matt-koehler.com” in the “cc:” line of your email. If a “cc:” line is not available, copy the text of your email and send it to us at “capstone_instructors@matt-koehler.com” in a second email.
  • You may begin by saying something like “Hello, I am taking the Capstone Portfolio Course, and the professor asked us to look at portfolios from previous classes and email the person whose portfolio we liked the most. I chose yours because…” (They will have done this Mission themselves and will thus understand the Mission and appreciate the honor of being selected).
  • Continue on to say a few nice but specific and substantive things about what you like about the design of their site. You should also ask them how they learned to publish on the Web, what they would recommend for you as you begin your work, etc. This serves as an expression of appreciation to this person for sharing, but the act of crafting a thoughtful email about why you selected this portfolio is also a good way for you to reflect on your aspirations for your portfolio. This should also offer you some good insight and help for this course. As a general rule, this email should be a good 2-3 paragraphs long with specific praise and genuine questions.
  • Important – Save a copy of this email. We are going to ask you to share it in the comments in the next mission.

Post your email as a comment

The goal for this is to let others see which portfolio you selected and how you communicated your appreciation to the creator of that portfolio.

  • Under “Leave a Reply,” on THIS page (just below the Powerups), you will add (as a comment) a modified copy of the email you sent the to author of your favorite portfolio.
  • Paste you email, but before submitting it, remove any identifying information. For example, replace “Dear Suzie” with “Dear —–“, or delete any names entirely.
  • Once you have removed any identifying information from your comment, submit it.
  • Your comment will be held for moderation (we need to approve comments to fight the spammers), so it won’t show up immediately.
  • If you use your MSU email address, your comment will automatically be posted with the Gravatar you provided in Module 0.

🔗Mission 2

Surprise! There is no Mission 2!

There typically will be more than one Mission per module, so we included this tab so that you can get used to checking it. However, this week, you luck out: There’s nothing to do here.


Grading rubric for this module

Each Mission in this course is important for developing your abilities to design and implement your portfolio. Recall that there are 100 total points assigned in this course; the specific Mission(s) in this module will count towards your grade as follows:

  • (1 points) – Email to previous student – Send an email to a previous capstone student and post your email on our course webpage.

Advice and help about course grades

  • Learn how to check grades in the course by reading this helpful guide.
  • Check grades early and often! This will help you understand your progress in the course and will help us correct any errors as soon as possible.
  • Pay attention to how each module is graded. We provide details about the grading rubric for each module.
  • Understand the late work policy. If you know you’re going to be late, contact us ahead of time and ask for a (reasonable) extension. Otherwise, work is accepted up to 48 hours late with 1/2 credit. The full policy is detailed in the syllabus.
  • The full grading policy is detailed in the syllabus.


Here you will regularly find information about “Powerups”—these are features, technologies, or pages that you add to your portfolio based upon what best suits you and your audience. Over the semester, you will add three Powerups to your portfolio before the course is over. In Module 1, make sure that you:

  • are familiar with the details about Powerups , and know what some of the options will be,
  • understand to check the “🌟Powerups” tab every week, and
  • understand that you do not have to do an Powerup this week (you don’t have a portfolio to Powerup yet!). However, you should be prepared to start the Powerups once you have a portfolio.

If you want to get started, by all means, visit the Powerups page and complete a Powerup at any time.