MODULE 0 – Get ready – (due by May 15th)

Welcome to the Capstone Portfolio Course! We know you’re looking forward to getting started, and we are looking forward to getting to know you and seeing the capstone portfolio you’ll create.

In Module 0, you will complete some assignments that allow us to better organize the course and help you to get ready to hit the ground running. Module 0 also serves the purpose of easing you into the structure and rhythm of the course. As in all course modules, you can get started on Module 0 by watching the introductory video. After that, we always provide you the “Basic” version of the assignments you need to complete and then end each module with an “Elaboration” section that contains all sorts of additional detail about the module, the course, and assignments.

Work in this module is due by May 15th (at or before 11:59 PM Eastern Time). We encourage you to begin early – it is not possible to complete the entire module at the last minute.


Basic Assignment(s)

Make sure you do each of the following activities to successfully complete this module.

🔍 Familiarize yourself with the course

Make sure to read through the course syllabus and click on a few modules in order to get a feel for how the course is structured. You might also consider looking at a few completed portfolios from last semester in order to get a better idea of what you will be building over the course of this semester. You shouldn’t feel like you have to do a lot of portfolio reviewing here because in Module 1 we will be doing a formal review of last semester’s portfolios to further develop your understanding of the final product.

🆕 Un-grading

This semester features a re-design of the course aimed at “un-grading.” Un-grading is an approach that moves us away from assigning points to everything, and instead focusing on a sustained dialog about the quality of work. The premise is that everyone starts with an A (4.0), and as long as you continue to make progress on the course goals, your grade will remain a 4.0.

See more details on this approach in the syllabus.

🔍 Explore the ShareTracker

This course will not use D2L to manage assignments and progress tracking. Instead, we have one spreadsheet called the “Sharetracker” that centralizes all the activities to be done, and your progress in completing those activities. This googleSheet can be accessed by anyone in this course, and nobody outside of the course. In the ShareTracker you will update us when you have submitted a piece of work or made updates to a piece of work. It is also useful to make sure you have turned in everything for each module.

The ShareTracker is always available through the menubar at the top of this website.

Click on the ShareTracker link now to get a feel for how it is organized.

✔️ Update your Feedback Notebook

Your Feedback Notebook is a personalized GoogleDoc that only you and your instructors can see. Here you will see detailed feedback on your work, and easily see feedback that tells you what is strong about your work, and which aspects of your work need more revision. You can access your Feedback Notebook by clicking on the notebook image in your row of the ShareTracker (it’s the 4th column).

Now is the time to make your first entries into your Feedback Notebook. Once you have opened your Feedback Notebook, please do the following:

  1. Read the section called “Overview”, and when you are done please delete the Overview. This indicates to your instructors that you have read these instructions and understand them.
  2. Fill in the section called “About Me Information”

That’s it, you’re done with your Feedback Notebook for this Module.

✔️ Update the ShareTracker

Now is the time to “submit” your work by updating the ShareTracker. Specifically, do the following:

  • Find your row in the Sharetracker. Update your name if you would prefer to be called something else (e.g., Matt instead of Matthew). Provide your pronouns (e.g., “he/him/his”).
  • If you have a website already please link it to your name (see the example for Matthew Koehler). If you do not yet have a website, that is okay, we are going to make one in this course
  • You may optionally include an image of yourself in the first column
  • Write “DONE” under each Module 0 assignment you have completed. If you haven’t completed a step, please do so.

That’s it, you’re done with the ShareTracker for Module 0.

🗒️ Assessment and Feedback

The assignments for Module 0 are to help get the course started, and we appreciate it if you can complete them by Aug 31st. You will not receive feedback in your Feedback Notebook, as this is a logistical module. You will hear from us if we need clarification.


Every module will have a section called “Elaboration” at the bottom of the page. Here we provide additional information about why we are doing things, suggest additional resources, and give some more detailed instructions beyond the basic steps. Although it is largely optional, make sure you at least check out what’s there so you can decide what’s worth reading and what’s worth skipping over each week.

❓ Why make a portfolio? Why a focus on 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.

❓ Why is the course designed this way?

There are any number of ways (perhaps an infinite number!) to design a course such as this one.

In this course, we have embraced an “open” approach to education — an approach that removes barriers to access, making as much of the course open and available to all whenever possible. We’ve also embraced an idea that every course should be different — no “cookie cutter” courses! A portfolio course should look different than a science course or an English course.

In our efforts to be open, we’ve chosen to go with the most widely-used web-authoring (and blogging) platform in the world—WordPress. It’s easily customizable and can (with some work) be repurposed from a blog to be a course management site. In doing so, we often have to mimic basic CMS functions with plugins, use of 3rd party sites, and sometimes our programming (in PHP). What this means for you is you will be using many different sites that together do what closed sites like D2L can do out of the box. Let’s walk through them, and we’ll explain why we’re using each:

  • Flipgrid – Flipgrid is a way for us to interact and share through asynchronous video conversations. We use the site to post thoughts about our work and provide feedback to each other.
  • Google Drive – We use googleDocs and GoogleSheets to securely share feedback and course progress with you. These aspects are private and not open to the public.
  • Zoom – This runs our online office hours (also known as the Capstone Coffeehouse) and our end-of-semester exhibitions. We would need something like this even with D2L.
  • D2L -We use D2L to securely handle grades. Now that we follow an “un-grading” philosophy, the gradebook will only have one entry (your overall grade in the course). D2L has no other use in this course.

The good news is that you’ll be using a site that is open—you’re joining the open education movement, seeing several examples of “repurposing” technology, and hopefully learning how to use technology flexibly in your own educational settings.

You should be seeing a site that isn’t like other courses you’ve seen before (in a good way, we hope). Moreover, you’re getting a site with what we think is a thoughtful combination of the best technologies for different purposes. We welcome your questions and comments and hope you enjoy this approach.

❓ How can I prepare for this course?

Here are some general suggestions to help you get started on the course goal of building an authentic portfolio:

  1. Find and secure regular, reliable, fast access to the Internet.
  2. Start thinking about what tool or resource you will use to publish your portfolio. Don’t worry if you’re not sure: The first two modules will give you a chance to work through the process of selecting a platform to use. These resources are available online, and most of them are free! You can get a jump start on this by thinking about these choices early.
    • If you already have a website and have a familiarity with publishing webpages, you can simply build on these skills and on your prior work.
    • If you have never published a webpage (or have not done so recently), not to worry. In the past, students who have taken this course without prior experience have produced excellent portfolios, and so will you! The early assignments in the course will take you through the decision process, so if you’re feeling a little nervous about this, please relax. In the eight years or so that the Capstone Portfolio Course has been taught, everyone has succeeded in getting a portfolio up.
  3. Back up your hard drive! Save a copy of all your work in the master’s program to a backup system such as a hard drive or large flash drive. It seems like each semester there is one person from whom we get an “Ouch!” email… “Ouch! My hard drive just crashed, and I’ve lost all of my work from past courses.” So please back up your work: This is good advice beyond just this course.
  4. Organize your master’s work. There is at least one part of your capstone portfolio where you will link to work that you’ve done in your master’s courses. You can begin organizing your materials from previous classes in preparation for this section.
  5. Reflect, mull, ponder, reminisce. There are required essays in this course that will ask you to look back at where you were when you began the master’s and look toward the future of learning given what you know now. There is also a major synthesis essay that asks you to write about how what you learned in your MAED or MAET courses has changed your thinking or enhanced your teaching. As you organize your materials and present them in your portfolio, get a jump start on these essays by figuring out the “big lessons” you learned.
  6. Explore possible portfolio platforms. There is a large and growing set of options you might choose for publishing your capstone portfolio. For now, if you don’t know what “publishing software” you’re going to use, consider “poking around” to learn more about Google Sites, WordPress, Weebly, or other systems to familiarize yourself with the choices.

Contact us whenever you have questions

We ask that you feel free to contact us with any questions at all that you have. Please put “Capstone Portfolio” in the subject line of emails to us so we can make sure to identify it as an important message to which we will respond quickly.

❓ Still have questions?

If you still have questions, contact us. The option to “contact us” will always be available under the “communicate” menu at the top of this website.

❓ What are the top 100 films of all time?

According to IMDb, the top 100 films of all time are: