LaGuardia Community College to Hold National Conference on Teaching Innovations with Technology, April 11-12

LaGuardia Community College, a leader in the fast-growing field of electronic portfolios, is hosting a landmark national conference on April 11-12 at its campus in New York City that will look at ePortfolio as a way to document, enhance and assess learning and teaching. Presentations will enable educators to examine the educational potential of the ePortfolio, a new learning tool that allows students to put together a collection of their best work—term papers, artwork, speeches and performances—and display it on their own interactive Web sites. The conference will be held on LaGuardia’s Long Island City campus, at 31-10 Thomson Avenue in Queens.

Over 45 conference sessions will be led by representatives of the most well-known national and international ePortfolio campuses, as well as LaGuardia faculty and students who are pioneering the use of this cutting edge resource. Workshops will examine ePortfolio and innovative teaching, ways to link ePortfolio to new Web 2.0 tools, and issues around student assessment, career portfolios, and reflective learning. For more information, visit the conference”s Web site at http://www.eportfolio.lagcc.cuny.edu/conference

“Hundreds of colleges and universities around the world have begun using ePortfolio to help students reflect and create digital portraits,” said LaGuardia Community College President Gail Mellow. “And as the political debate over assessment heats up, educators are also looking at new ways to use ePortfolio to analyze the impact on the learning and teaching process.”

The conference will feature a keynote address by Dr. Kathleen Blake Yancey, the K.W. Hunt Professor of English and Director of the Graduate Program in Rhetoric and Composition at Florida State University. A prolific scholar and co-founder of the National Coalition for ePortfolio Research, Dr. Yancey has played a major role in establishing ePortfolio in higher education worldwide. Other presenters include experts from University of Michigan, Virginia Tech, Alverno College, Seton Hall, Indiana University, The American Association of Colleges and Universities, the University of Westminster in London, Kapi’olani Community College in Honolulu and George Mason University.

LaGuardia has been exploring the uses of ePortfolio since 2004. In those four years, more than 10,000 students have created their own electronic showcases. LaGuardia students—the majority of whom are immigrants and minorities who come to college needing basic skills courses—have embraced the ePortfolio as a way of enriching their learning. Students select samples of work that demonstrate their growth and link them to an electronic resume. They package this collection in a creatively designed Web site that integrates text, images, music and video. The collection can be viewed by classmates, faculty, senior college admission officers and prospective employers.

“LaGuardia’s ePortfolio program has a multi-pronged strategy,” said Dr. Bret Eynon, Executive Director of LaGuardia’s Teaching and Learning Center, which oversees the program. “We wanted to strengthen learning and support assessment.” Recent outcomes data demonstrate the program’s benefits for increasing retention and class pass rates. “And given the economic needs of our students, we knew that career development was also important. Finally, our research demonstrated that an approach allowing for creativity, reflection and expression is crucial to integrative learning. The evidence makes a compelling case for the positive impact of our integrative ePortfolio strategy on student learning at LaGuardia,” said Dr. Eynon.

“Not only did I gain technical skills, but I learned to express myself as a student,” said Sandra Rios, a Colombia-born student who began LaGuardia as an ESL student and is now studying psychology at Hunter College. “The different sections of my ePortfolio made me realize important things about how I see myself now and in my future.”

LaGuardia has received national recognition—the 2006 MetLife Foundation Community College Excellence Award and 2007 Community College Futures Assembly prestigious Bellwether Award—for its instructional innovation and success with first year students. The ePortfolio program has figured prominently in LaGuardia’s educational achievements. Recently, The U.S. Department of Education awarded LaGuardia a $620,000 grant from the Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (FIPSE) to help other colleges use ePortfolio.

“Through our FIPSE grant and the conference,” said Dr. Eynon, “we hope to share our expertise with schools who want to explore ePortfolio’s potential and host a creative conversation among those who have programs in place about moving this learning tool to the next level.”