Research Review

Today’s employers are looking for education and experience. Students in higher education need to demonstrate their skills, in addition to their academic achievements, to potential employers. How can students set themselves apart from other applicants? One strategy is the creation of an ePortfolio. While portfolios are not new in education or the job search process, blogging is becoming an increasingly popular way to showcase one’s work.

A blog by definition is “a website that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer” (Blog, n.d.). Blogging is growing in popularity in many areas and new applications are on the horizon (Larsson & Hrastinski, 2011). The job seeker, as blog writer, can create an online collection of work samples, reflections on work experience and career goals, and invite feedback, using this type of platform. The features and functionality offered by blogging platforms can be used to consolidate work examples and create an easily accessible place for recruiters to review them.

The blog format is not new to student assessment portfolios, in which learners add artifacts that demonstrate their progress in a course or academic program. However, many study blogs are housed in proprietary systems managed by the school requiring the export and transfer of content after graduation. Seattle Pacific University was recently recognized with an Effective Practice Award from The Sloan Consortium for the use of blog portfolios, or bPortfolios, as a tool in teacher education programs. This project’s use of a free, open blogging platform (WordPress) lends the final product to continued refinement and modification for use as a career portfolio. Since these blogs are fully in the student’s control after graduation, not tied to a learning management system or other fee-based service managed by their school, they can keep their reflection and demonstration going without interruption. (Seattle Pacific University, 2011).

The process of developing and maintaining an ePortfolio comes with benefits for the student/job seeker, in addition to resulting in a web-based collection of work samples. An initiative at Florida State University included portfolio development based on nine critical skills perceived as valuable in a variety of work and life roles: (1) communication, (2) creativity, (3) critical thinking, (4) leadership, (5) life management, (6) research/project development, (7) social responsibility, (8) teamwork, and (9) technical/scientific skills (Garis, 2006). These skills can be used as a guide for students in the selection of artifacts and for faculty in the development of course assignments.

Researching the role of ePortfolios from the employer’s perspective, Ward and Moser (2008) found that while 75% of employers and employment recruiters are not familiar with ePortfolios, those that are reviewing portfolio materials prefer a web-based format. What do employers want to see? The information perceived as most valuable included: resumes/references (93%), written work (39%), projects (37%), and presentations (33%) (Ward & Moser, 2008).

Career services professionals and education researchers at Florida State University documented their implementation of an institution-wide eportfolio program.  This initiative did not involve the blog format, but did result in helpful recommendations for career centers, students, and employers. Several of the problems identified were the need to make employers more aware of student ePortfolios and help them to implement the use of these student curated collections in their screening of job applicants (Lumsden, Lenz, Ford, & Reardon, 2007). This group also identified the need to integrate the development of ePortfolios across the student’s experience, including academic coursework, practical experience, and participation in other relevant activities, such as learning communities, first-year student seminars, and academic advising.

Could blog portfolios be the resume of the future? Students, job seekers, instructors, educational researchers, career services professionals, and employers are all exploring the benefits and challenges. And while the blog format shows promise, there are a host of ePortfolio technology providers to review as well (Batson, 2011). Consider adding your thoughts and feedback to this page using the comments area.

Reference List

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