Why portfolios? Why authenticity?

There are lots of good reasons to build an online portfolio. One major reason is that your program (MAED or MAET) will use your portfolio as summative and formative assessment as you conclude your master’s degree program.

That is, you will use your portfolio to collect all of your demonstrated learning, skills, competencies, and reflections in one place. Because it is online, it’s available not only to us (the course instructors) but also to other faculty and students in the program and the College of Education. This is your chance to show everyone what you know and what you can do!

There are reasons beyond finishing your program, however, for building a portfolio. We think that a portfolio can serve you well in professional, social, and personal contexts. That is, the work you demonstrate in your portfolio is a great professional resource for communicating with colleagues and perhaps even landing a job. Your portfolio can also be a point of social connection with others, including friends and family members. This is especially true if you add social components to your site such as a blog, a Twitter feed, or photos. And finally your portfolio can have personal purposes—it can serve as a digital archive for any work that you want to share with others.

These purposes for your portfolio beyond meeting program purposes are about authenticity. We want to help each of you end the course with a Web portfolio that is written for an authentic audience and that shows in a rich, thoughtful way the work you have done in your master’s program. An authentic audience is your ideal audience: the people who you want to see your portfolio, be it students’ parents, colleagues, future employers, etc. We do ask you to meet certain criteria but don’t by any means have a prescriptive formula in mind for what your portfolio should look like—you should use your authentic audience to guide those decisions.

So, please think of your audience as consisting of more than just your instructors; more importantly, please think of this as your portfolio, not ours. Also, think of your portfolio as something to be shared with others in the future, not something to be left in some dusty corner of the Internet when this course is over.

Because we are focused on you and your audience, we encourage you to be creative and diverse in the portfolios you create. This makes our job harder (and our expectations perhaps a bit ambiguous at times), but we really do want you to finish the Capstone Portfolio Course with a portfolio you are proud of, a deeper understanding of the power of the portfolio concept, an expanded set of Web publishing skills, and some deep reflections about the power of Web publishing in the lives of those you teach. That is not to say, however, that there are not some common requirements and guidelines that structure the great diversity, creativity, and originality that will span the range of portfolios created in this course. We’ll say more about that as we go along.