The most time-consuming aspect of putting together this e-portfolio was definitely writing the materials and I in fact had to leave my opinion piece as the last piece to work on. I needed the time to do some thinking. Indeed, writing and developing the e-portfolio content required a lot of thought. Going over the guidelines of the assignment and also the rubrics really helped me keep working at it. It helped me to make sure that each contribution in the e-portfolio is well connected to the theme. I also realized at some point that I didn’t specify who would be the audience of my e-portfolio. This was a very important piece. Without a clear audience in mind, everything becomes blurry, out of focus. In the end, I had to articulate my audience to be any teaching faculty, librarians, learning specialists, instructional designers, or technologists who can contribute to and can make important impacts on student learning in higher education.
How to disseminate my e-portfolio was one of the last things I worked on. It would be very convenient to attach my e-portfolio url, say on my business card, or my signature line for e-mail messages. I also chose to use my Mendeley profile. Initially, the obvious field assigned by Mendeley for my e-portfolio entry to be included is Bio section. Unfortunately, it is a text box and I could not make any hyperlink to the e-portfolio site. I decided to include my e-portfolio under Publications so that any visitors can click it to the site. In addition to Mendeley, I also looked into ResearchGate. Unfortunately, there was no easy way to include the hyperlink for my e-portfolio in the profile database at this network site for academic researchers.
I first looked into a couple of WorldPress themes with “clean design” for my e-portfolio, such as Twenty Ten, Twenty Eleven, and Twenty Twelve. A clean and simple design works best for an e-portfolio. I selected the Coraline Theme. I initially made it into one column format, but it accentuated my texts too much. In the end, I put back the sidebar on the right and eliminated some widgets such as a widget for comments or metadata, to make the blog design into a stand-alone e-portfolio.
We need to have interesting images in any web pages. Locating usable images that were not copyrighted or in public domain proved to be a time-consuming process. I could easily search Google Images with keywords and could retrieve many images, but many of them were either copyrighted or the copyright status not certain. I eventually relied mainly on the Creative Commons Images Search (you can search 13 different resources covering images, music, and media), Open Clip Art Library, and Public Domain Clip Art to locate potential images for this project. I initially went through the frustration of dealing with the fee-based image library sites that market their sites emphasizing on the availability of free, public domain images. They in fact let you search free images only for the first couple of times. But when you are convinced that this site is helpful, they start mainly pushing fee-based images. Very tricky.
Looking back when I started this e-portfolio project, I had a vague idea of what it entails. Establishing a blog site and establishing the main menu helped me get started with the project. It would be accurate to say that the objective of my portfolio probably became more realistic when I focused on the audience. Even after the identification of the audience, I still had to write each section by trial and error, drafting and editing, and finally putting all together ensuring that each contributes as a part of the e-portfolio.
My topic, how higher education is adapting to the new learning opportunities presented by the emerging technologies and accompanying social changes, by its nature has a moving target. My webinar theme was authentic learning in higher education. I struggle for a while to identify clearly what my opinion piece would be for the e-portfolio. I brainstormed similar concepts to authentic learning. There are, “student-centered learning” and “self-directed learning.” The overlapping characteristics of these similar concepts lead to the concept of “life-long learning” or “learning-to-learn skills.” I understood all these different concepts to be the new labels or keywords helping us identify the new ways to organize learning environments. I eventually chose to write about the ideal type for the 21st century learning environments and learners as my opinion piece. This helps us visualize how learning takes place in the new learning environments that sharply contrast what we have become accustomed to in higher education. The ideal type presented by Barr and Taggs, and John Seely Brown help us set in the new direction. In the end, my opinion piece helped to tie various pieces I prepared for the e-portfolio.