When I originally began building the ePortfolio Program for the Center for High Impact Practices in 2015, no formal infrastructure for supporting students in the creation of ePortfolios and related digital assignments existed. Instead, another unit had a team of undergraduate peer mentors known as “Digital Coaches,” with a very loosely defined position and little training. Within a year of initiating my faculty-driven ePortfolio program and frequently stressing to administration that students needed trained support in order to complete such assignments, the Digital Coaches were transferred to my unit.
I immediately began the process of redefining the Coaching position, tightening the parameters of the job description. I also retitled the position as “ePortfolio Assistant.” Currently, the position is described as follows:
“ePortfolio Assistants are peer mentors trained to support students as they develop ePortfolios for a variety of contexts. Through individual appointments, the assistants help students work with digital programs, answering specific questions regarding how to do various actions as well offering general feedback on design, content, and function of an ePortfolio when given the context within which that portfolio is being produced. These appointments are intended to help students learn to navigate and work within such systems on their own. Please remember these appointments are not merely passive editing sessions, but are instead opportunities for active interaction and learning.
Specifically, ePortfolio Assistants help students with:
- Working with ePortfolio programs such as: Google Drive, Google Sites, Wix, and WordPress;
- Developing multimedia elements for ePortfolios such as images, video, and audio elements;
- Exploring other digital tools such as web-conferencing platforms, social media, and productivity tools.
Students interested in meeting with an ePortfolio Assistant may either drop-in or make an appointment. Online appointments are also an option.”
I also instituted a series of trainings and monthly meetings, so that the ePortfolio Assistants are trained throughout the year. They also serve as a useful conduit for tracking trends in student needs and requests.
The ePortfolio Assistant position continues to expand in terms of expectation. Beyond their core objective of individual support, the ePortfolio Assistants are increasingly called upon to visit courses to offer presentations and tutorial demonstrations. As of 2018, they also each offer two 20-40 minute workshops in the iMPACT Center as part of the LeADERS.
This more targeted use of the ePortfolio Assistants, with its emphasis on marketing to instructors in order to raise awareness of the tutoring program, has seen a rapid increase in use in the resource.
As part of their initial and on-going training, ePortfolio Assistants are also tasked with creating their own portfolios. Those instructions are shared below.
Additionally, ePortfolio Assistants complete self-assessment reflections at the end of each semester, modeling ePortfolio best practices and reviewing their own performances. Instructions for this exercise are shared below.