Help Students Showcase Skills with an E-Portfolio

Today’s job seekers need to market themselves with a variety of materials: several résumés in different formats, a LinkedIn page with a fleshed-out profile, and a professional social media presence.

Another potentially useful tool for job searchers is the e-portfolio, a collection of digitized materials that give viewers a snapshot of a candidate’s work and showcase an individual’s talents and accomplishments. Often e-portfolios link to copies of original work such as written communication and examples of graphic or film projects.

Teaching students to put together an e-portfolio works well in the business communication classroom. For instructors, it provides a venue in which students can rewrite graded work so it is polished for a professional audience. E-portfolios also appeal to students, especially those about to embark on their job searches, and that buy-in helps students dedicate themselves to producing their best work.

Below are some teaching tips for linking this important element of the job search to an e-portfolio assignment. Note: The skeleton assignment at the end of this post is designed to be adapted to individual instructors’ needs.

Discuss the relevance of e-portfolios. Regularly remind students that the work they do for the course can be used to demonstrate their written communication skills to a potential employer who may want to see a writing sample. Stress that these skills are on employers’ wish lists for new-hires.

Show samples. Project samples of recent graduates’ e-portfolios, which are easily found online. (After initially teaching the assignment, instructors can use their own students’ samples.) Discuss the elements that make e-portfolios valuable to a potential employer and the kinds of samples that best illustrate a candidate’s qualifications.

Create in-class activities. Teaching the e-portfolio lends itself to group work. Students can find samples online and discuss their pros and cons. Groups can work together to isolate the categories of samples they want to include on their individual sites. Instructors can use class time to help students sign up for free templates and guide them through registering and choosing a template.

Add an e-portfolio assignment. Consider including a final project that showcases students’ rewritten work uploaded to an e-portfolio. These rewrites can be graded or not, depending on course design, but requiring students to think through the process of what to include and rewriting previous assignments can only reinforce learning outcomes in the business communication classroom.

No doubt students today face daunting preparation as they ready themselves for a job search. Adding an e-portfolio to their arsenal further arms them with cutting-edge materials to improve their odds of success.

E-Portfolio Skeleton Assignment

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