E-Portfolios Help John Jay Students Improve Digital Literacy

ePortfolio at John Jay logo

Math and Science Resource Center Recognized for Novel Use of E-Portfolios

The John Jay Math and Science Resource Center (MSRC) and its staff have been honored by the National College Learning Center Association with an award for Innovative Use of Technology. The award recognizes the Resource Center’s innovative use of the e-portfolio, a pedagogy tool that allows students and faculty to showcase their work through the online e-portfolio platform.

“Students are creating these websites that become the story of who they are, and help them launch the careers they’re interested in and the graduate programs they want to pursue,” said Dan Auld, Director of Learning Technologies and Support.

The program first began at John Jay in 2012, but in 2015 it was expanded immensely due to a funding increase of $650,000 through CUNY Strategic Investment Initiatives. Since that time, it has seen a 600% increase in usage on campus. Over 3,200 student accounts were created last year, and today there are more than 6,000 accounts.  All John Jay students have free access to the platform.  They can create an e-portfolio at any time, and they can continue to use it after they graduate.

E-portfolio users can create online pages rich in text, images, videos, and other media to effectively communicate the depth and breadth of their scholarly work, making the e-portfolio a convenient alternative to compressing years of research and study into a single page resume or cover letter. The finished product is a compelling digital portrait of an individual and their unique accomplishments, which can be used to apply for graduate school or other career opportunities.

According to Auld, the e-portfolios help address a “digital divide” among college students in which more privileged students at private universities often have greater access to technology than CUNY students. “This gives them an opportunity to build their digital literacy skills and create their own story about what they’re doing at John Jay,” he said.

But it turns out the e-portfolio has even greater potential than originally thought.

Margaret Roidi, Manager of the MSRC at John Jay, has been spearheading an initiative that incorporates the e-portfolio into their tutoring services. According to Roidi, “Traditionally, the e-portfolio has been used as an extension of the classroom to showcase student work. But we wanted to use it as a professional development tool. When I came to John last November, I saw that the Math and Science Resource Center had a good framework for their training program. I said ‘I bet I can combine the two.’”

Since then, Roidi has expanded the impact of the e-portfolio program by integrating it into the student tutoring program at the MSRC with the goal of creating smarter, better-equipped tutors who can use the platform keep track of their work and reflect on tutoring methods and best practices.

 

Roidi said the use of e-portfolios allows tutors to ask themselves questions such as: Were my goals accomplished? Did I become a better tutor? Did I work with a diverse student body? What type of abilities did I develop?

Tutors can then use their e-portfolios as a marketable portfolio when seeking employment.

“It becomes a tool for them to document the skills they develop while working here,” Roidi said. “It’s not just about being a tutor – it’s about transitioning into being a learning center professional.”

It was this particular usage of the e-portfolio that caught the eye of the NCLCA, prompting them to award the John Jay MSRC with their Innovative Use of Technology award.  This September, Roidi along with Manuel Chaparro, Assistant Manager at MSRC, will be traveling to San Antonio to the NCLCA annual conference to accept the award and give a live presentation on the use of the e-portfolio.

“We’re super excited,” Roidi said, “it’s going to be a really great experience.”

The first annual John Jay ePortfolio Showcase was held on May 2, 2017 and 30 students presented e-portfolios documenting their work inside and outside the classroom.

Students interested in creating their own e-portfolio can learn more on the Digital Journey Support webpage.