July 26, 2016

Confessions of the Portfolio Newbie

ELH Challenge 138 asked us to answer the questions about our portfolios. As I now technically have one and I've also had some experience reviewing the work of others, I decided to jump in and record my answers as well. I hope these will be useful or inspirational for those who are just staring or just thinking about creating a portfolio.

Below you will find short summaries of my answers - you can hear the extended versions by playing the embedded audio tracks.

Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get started in e-learning? How long have you been in the industry?

I graduated with MA in Teaching English as a Foreign Language, worked in the Learning & Development area and gradually grew from an instructional designer + trainer to instructional designer + e-learning developer. In addition I now have my second MA in Online and Distance Learning.

Tell us about your e-learning portfolio. What types of projects do you include in your portfolio? How often do you update your portfolio?

I've started creating a portfolio in April this year, and I use ELH Challenges to fill it. I update it almost weekly, or whenever I have another challenge done. At the moment I'm creating a "critical mass" of content and I will take a more critical look at it once I have a clearer goal for my portfolio. I decided to make it a work in progress rather than waiting for the moment when it becomes a perfection.

What do you think makes a good online portfolio? What should and shouldn’t be included in an e-learning portfolio?

I think about portfolios as resumes, but with less words. For me they represent me and the work that I would want to do, so that's the answer to the question of what should be there. As to what shouldn't - my pet peeve is plagiarism (seems obvious, but sadly, it happens) as well as examples that do not support your image as an instructional designer.

On the subject of plagiarism, I've created ELH entries based on the work of others, for example, my "Catman GO" and an App-Style Navigation examples. However, I reworked the originals, as well as clearly credited my sources.

What do you think clients or companies look for in an e-learning portfolio?

In short - whether the works presented in the portfolio match their needs. Some examples from my past are:
  • whether an instructional designer can match the style of the courses that exist in the company.
  • and/or if they can follow branding guidelines so that their work doesn't contract with the existing course base.
  • do the portfolio items show instructional design and pedagogical thought.

What platform or technology did you use to build your e-learning portfolio?

Since I'm still at the beginning of my Project Portfolio, I'm simply using my Articulate Profile as a front page. I host my modules on AWS and occasionally write in this blog.

What’s the most challenging part about building, designing, or maintaining portfolios?

Starting, by which I mean finding time and fighting perfectionism. It was worth it, though, as I have my portfolio to thank for my new job.

How do you handle confidentiality issues with projects in your portfolio?

I fill my portfolio with ELH Challenges. Two of my entries are based on the actual trainings (Elevator Speech and Course Personalisation), but these have been reworked beyond recognition, based on what I remember about these projects, as well as filled with my own content.

What are your top three tips for users looking to build their first e-learning portfolio?

Do it. Particularly if you're bad at self-marketing, portfolio will better showcase your achievements and skills.

If you feel like you don't have time and energy - gather solid data (not hunches) on where you time goes. Then try reducing the amount of things you hate doing and/or things that do not benefit you directly, or that are not in line with your goals and values. Get "a room of your own" in the sense of free time and use it to build something that will show the world who you are.

Get good feedback. Ideally, get a mentor or reach out to someone whose opinion you value. Talk to me on LinkedIn, if you like.

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