Connection To Core Strategies

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Developing an Effective Campus ePortfolio Team
The composition of our ePortfolio Team has been essential to the ePortfolio initiative on our campus. Originally, one member (Alison Carson) of our team became part of the team as she was the Chairperson of the Board on Academic Standards (BOAS), the faculty committee that oversees the Manhattanville Portfolio System. Alison was on a team with our Instructional Technologist and a part-time member of the Library staff, a media and technologies librarian. This original composition of the team reflected the fact that the Library found the original Making Connections grant and our lack of understanding of what we were getting into! Half way through our Making Connections grant, Alison was due to go on sabbatical and asked two faculty members to come on to the team during her sabbatical. Alison approached Gillian Greenhill Hannum for a variety of reasons. She had a demonstrated interest in ePortfolio as she attended each of the ePortfolio vendor presentations over the course of Spring 2010. Additionally, Gillian is a highly respected member of the faculty, always level-headed and considerate of a variety of opinions and perspectives, making her a particularly valuable member of the team. At the same time, Alison also approached Jim Frank, a member of the Studio Art department and teaches courses in digital media, therefore had expertise in technology and design. More recently, Sherie McClam, the Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, joined our team.

In addition to our primary roles that led us to be a part of this team, each of us also sits on other committees that have been very advantageous to the eP scaling up effort. Jim and subsequently Sherie, were elected members of our Core Curriculum Committee, the faculty committee responsible for our general education. Alison also sits on this committee as a representative of BOAS. This has been extremely important as ePortfolio has become central to the discussions of our revised core curriculum and will be used moving forward for the collection of general education artifacts. Gillian and Sherie have taught in the First Year Program (FYP), and Gillian is currently the Coordinator of the First Year Program. FYP is a program that we saw as being instrumental in the transition to ePortfolio, beginning with accounts for all freshman in Fall 2011. Our professional development (see below) originally focused on FYP seminar instructors and writing instructors in an effort to provide groundwork toward an ePortfolio culture. Gillian has also been the Director of Castle Scholars, our honors program, which has adopted ePortfolio. Jim is now the Chairperson of the Admissions committee, leading efforts to connect ePortfolio to the admissions process, particularly for transfer opportunities from other schools using ePortfolio. Sherie, as Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, has been instrumental in helping us to institutionalize our professional development series, provide oversight and supervision of our eTern team as well as coordinate and oversee our ePortfolio Lab.

In addition to various leadership positions on campus held by each of us, we also bring different perspectives, strengths, and abilities to our team. We trust and rely on one another. We have respect for what each of us brings to the team and ultimately we have become friends. This has made meeting each week at 8am on Monday mornings a great way to begin the week, generally with muffins or bagels! As a team, we engage in the process of inquiry, reflection and integration, both formally and informally. For example, through survey data, we know faculty benefit from their participation in our TLCs, but we also have data that show that a low percentage of these faculty are implementing ePortfolio into their classes. Reflecting on this information, we have revised our professional development strategy providing a more sustained engagement and support during the implementation phase. We are also working to integrate the faculty and student experience. We believe that the more faculty use ePortfolio to develop their personal/professional ePortfolios, the more likely they will be to understand the experience students have when creating their Portfolios. This form of integration and shared experience is something we are working on in our professional development series.

Between these formal meetings, all email correspondence copies all members of the team, ensuring that each of us knows what is going on and each has an opportunity to contribute. While everyone knows what’s going on, we have also tried to make sure that not everyone needs to do everything. This distribution of responsibilities has been crucial as no one person can do it all.

As a team, we have made a concerted effort to make sure that the work of the ePortfolio team and the results of the ePortfolio initiative are communicated to faculty as well as administration on campus. Good communication skills help this effort, but looking for different opportunities to not only say but show our progress and the results is important.

One challenge that we continue to struggle with is the sustainability of leadership on this project. We are working toward sustainability of ePortfolio support for faculty and students through the Center for Teaching and Learning. Support for the administration of our ePortfolio system is needed.

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