We currently use ePortfolios for 2 purposes:
1) To display the work and skill set of CADD students and grads
2) To add a skill (web design) to the skill set of CADD students and grads
What is included
- Samples of CADD course work and drawings
- A Resume
- An “About” page
- A Photo Gallery of original artwork or photos
- A weekly Blog with insights and reflection on CADD related topics
(in response to a topic described by the instructor)
Where integrated in program
ePortfolios are integrated at 2 stages in the CADD program:
1) In the first semester in the CADD 1160 “Office Procedures” course
(emphasis is on the Blog as a study of opportunities and disciplines in a CADD career)
2) In the third semester in the CADD 2160 “Professional Practice” course
(emphasis is on the Blog as a reflection and consideration on how value can be added to a CADD career.
Emphasis is also on CADD course work, and the resume, and students are beginning to seek employment at this point in the program)
In both courses, the completed ePortfolio is given between 10% – 20% of the final course grade, depending on the instructor.
We began using ePortfolios in a 2nd Year course (CADD 2210 “ePortfolio and Web Design”) in 2012. We intended to use Mahara for the ePortfolio portion of the course, and Wordpress for the Web Design portion of the course.
After spending several weeks on Mahara, we decided to do the ePortfolio portion of the course with Wordpress also, for a variety of reasons:
1) The file size upload limit of 5 Mb was too small for CADD drawings and models
2) The total capacity of each student ePortfolio (100 Mb) was too small for CADD drawings and models
3) We found the interface to be not intuitive, and very restrictive
4) We had more control on content, themes, plugins etc with Wordpress
In 2014 we replaced the CADD 2210 course with a course more applicable to the CADD Diploma program (CADD 2220 “Sustainable Design”)
How we use it today
We use the ePortfolio exercise in both the CADD 1160 and CADD 2160 course as described earlier, as we still find the skill set and activity to be beneficial to the students. It enhances their understanding of digital design, layout and content.
We introduce it in 2 places in the program for the following reasons:
- in the first semester CADD 1160 course we find that it is a more fun tool than just writing an essay in Word. Emphasis is on the content, not on the Wordpress software
- In the third semester CADD 2160 course, more emphasis is on the Wordpress software, and on creating an ePortfolio that will help the students find employment. Students add additional plugins and customize the theme to make the ePortfolio interface part of the experience for the viewer.
Students are currently supported in class by CADD instructors (Joanne Massey & Christina Heinrick). Students often go online themselves and view the abundance of Wordpress tutorials to learn new things that are not covered in class.
Instructions, intent, expectations and marking criteria are clearly given in a written form.
Every step of creating the ePortfolis is given in written form, and then demonstrated in class, supported by Camtasia videos that are recorded during the demonstration and then uploaded to the Moodle site.
Joanne Massey administers the hosting account with Bluehost, and creates all the Wordpress sites for each student in both classes. She also looks after all technical issues associated with hosting multiple Wordpress sites.
The cost per month to the CADD program is approx. $36 USD per month. The account can host up to 100 ePortfolios at a time. The hosting server resides in the United States. Students are cautioned not to publish any personal information except their KPU email address on the ePortfolio site, on their Resume page.
Duration of hosting
The CADD 1160 ePortfolios are removed at the end of each semester, so that new CADD 1160 students do not copy the work.
The CADD 2160 ePortfolios are left up for at least one year to facilitate CADD grads who are seeking employment.
I think that an ePortfolio is most effective to display coursework that is graphic in nature, like drawings, photos or artwork. I think that courses heavy in essays and written work, and short on graphics, would not be very interesting to look at, and might cause the students to question why they are going to so much work to produce an ePortfolio of written work that could easily be submitted on Moodle as a PDF or DOC.
If an ePortfolio is relevant, I would recommend that the instructor select an ePortfolio platform with an interface that is relevant to the subject matter of the course, and skill set of the students. For example, CADD students are highly proficient in software of all kinds, and can quickly adapt to any graphic oriented software that is introduced to them.
This might not be the case in a Fine Arts class, if computers are seldom used. Adding new technology that might not be the forte of those students can cause a huge amount of stress for the students UNLESS the instructor can provide training and support.
We will continue to use the ePortfolio exercises in both the CADD 1160 and CADD 2160 courses, and continue to improve the way it is developed as the technology improves. For example, instead of using thumbnails in a table to link to PDF’s of drawings, we will start to use a Gallery plugin to link thumbnails to the PDF’s
In addition to the 2 courses listed above, we will use an ePortfolio Wordpress website for student group projects in other courses, particularly CADM 1210 “Mechanical Components and Assemblies”. The ePortfolio itself becomes the final report for special group projects. Clear instructions, expectations and marking criteria are provided. The collaborative setup of Wordpress, (ie: Users can be easily added at different access levels), allows everyone in the group to upload content.