Foliotek Blog

New Foundation

by Geoff Leigh

Just as a house built on prime real estate needs to be remodeled once in a while to make improvements and keep up with the visual aesthetics of the time, so do software applications. At Foliotek, we take pride in working with educators to build and promote project based learning, and have been doing so for almost 15 years. During that time, Foliotek’s products have gone through two major visual (skin) changes, the latest of which has lasted for over seven years. This is quite an accomplishment considering most web based applications are visually re-made every two years.

As we reflect on the foundational structure used to build Foliotek’s last skin, it is clear that focusing on visual simplicity, clean lines, and whitespace allowed Foliotek to thrive in an otherwise changing environment. Recognizing that success, we began planning for the next re-skinning of the application. We wanted to maintain those previous, successful elements while laying the foundation for implementing new technological enhancements that have come to the market over the past few years.

The overall objective for a new skin on Foliotek was to adhere to clean, simple design principles and not drastically alter any current system functionality. This re-skin project will give moderate improvement to the current visual state of Foliotek. Although, more importantly, it will lay the technological groundwork for future functional changes that could dramatically improve how users interact with the application. We have already analyzed user interaction with Foliotek in a variety of ways and have learned about certain processes that could benefit from a retooling. However, before we can begin to make larger alterations to application functionality, we need to build a new visual infrastructure that could better accommodate these improvements. This meant the re-skinning of every page of the application. Hence, Foliotek’s new foundation.

Below are some images of what the new skin will look like. Take the time to thumb through them and give us your feedback.

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ePortfolios Made Easy

by Geoff Leigh

At Foliotek, we have been eating, sleeping, and dreaming about eportfolios for more than ten years. During that time, we have seen the dynamics that surround eportfolio pedagogy evolve. This has been a natural result of more people hearing about and experiencing the benefits the eportfolio affords. Both the process of building an eportfolio and the end product are very powerful tools for learning and showcasing knowledge, skills, and competencies. From high stakes assessment for industry credentialing, to the college-to-career transition, eportfolios are a versatile and powerful tool. Obviously, the process of evolution involves change; and change is a predominant theme in how eportfolios have been, and are now being, used. However, one thing has remained consistent: ePortfolios are not easy to build.

Well, that is about to change. Welcome the new addition, Foliotek Projects, as we like to refer to them, baby eportfolios (ohh… look at them, aren’t they so cute).

This week we have introduced a new feature into the Foliotek platform, a foundational concept that will be the driving force in our future development. Projects are a new way for a person to quickly create content upon which they can reflect and showcase for any purpose. Let me elaborate.

Simple ePortfolio Project 03 Simple ePortfolio Project 02 Simple ePortfolio Project 01

One of the greatest challenges of eportfolio practice is what I refer to as “blank page paralysis.” Meaning, I’m looking at this blank page, what do I put on it? With the introduction of projects, there is no more blank page paralysis. Instead of the overwhelming task of filling an entire eportfolio, you simply work on one project at a time. We all have projects we have done that demonstrate our skills, knowledge, and competencies. Projects, in Foliotek, allow you to take those discrete data points, neatly package them, and present them in a visibly appealing way. This allows you to focus on the meta aspects of your project and baby step your way into the development of your complete eportfolio content.

Why be overwhelmed with the entire process of building an extensive eportfolio, when all you need to do is focus on one thing at a time.

Foliotek projects are going to allow you to give concentrated effort on easily gathering and presenting the artifacts as they pertain to an individual piece of work. Projects will allow you to connect your work with skills and competencies as well as write descriptive reflections related to your journey. Ultimately, projects will be used in assessments, for collaborative work, and shared privately and/or publicly. With each project you add, the richer your eportfolio becomes; only you don’t have to stare at a blank page and figure out what to write. Focusing on one thing at a time will allow that work to naturally occur.

Geoff on g+



Why should you watch our hangout with Chris Pelchat from the WEA?  Because they’re doing some really cool things with eportfolios!

The Wilderness Education Association is a member-based organization that promotes the professionalism of outdoor education and leadership.  They help to prepare candidates for the field through curriculum design and continuing education.


ePortfolios have streamlined the WEA’s certification and continuing education processes.  They allow candidates to prove competency through experiential-based learning and provides WEA with a platform to track certification progress and remediation.

In addition to certifying candidates, the Wilderness Education Association also accredits the outdoor education programs of many colleges and universities.  Chris said that one day they had an epiphany, “Why aren’t we using this [Foliotek] for our accreditation system?”  Therefore, they began to use eportfolios to collect artifacts from the organizations who seek accreditation.

Watch the video above to learn more about that fascinating world of outdoor education and the vital role eportfolios have played at the WEA!



We are excited to feature the Wilderness Education Association as our first live hangout of 2014!  Chris Pelchat will be joining us on Tuesday, February 18th at 12 Noon CST to discuss how eportfolios are used for WEA’s certification processes.

Logo for hangout

The Wilderness Education Association (WEA) is an accrediting agency for wilderness education programs.  Many colleges and universities around the nation partner with WEA to certify their wilderness education candidates.  After candidates pass their initial certification, many continue their studies to become a certifying examiner where they are qualified to be a wilderness educator.  Eportfolios are used to document a candidate’s certification process and continuing education.

Be sure to tune-in next week to learn about this unique implementation of eportfolios!  Join our Friends of Foliotek community (if you haven’t already) to access the event details.  Once joined to the community, click ‘Events’ in the left menu and look for the hangout with Chris Pelchat.  See you there!

Are you interested in being featured in a live hangout with Foliotek?  Email to learn more.



Reflection.  This was a recurring theme throughout our live hangout with +EmilySpringfield earlier this week.  Emily is a skilled Instructional Designer at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, who has seen reflection play a key role in student learning.

The UMICH School of Dentistry uses eportfolios for their Pathways program where students complete a project which helps provide experience in a particular area of interest.  During this project, students attend lectures and meet with mentors and guides who provide feedback to students.  The eportfolio provides an excellent platform to track student progress throughout the various phases of the project.

A key component of this project is reflection.  Emily confesses that at first, students hate reflection.  ”However, after going through the reflective process, students usually change their opinion.”  Some have even stated that reflection is a valuable professional skill they intend to use on a regular basis.

Take a moment to watch the video above to learn more about the process of reflection used at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry. If you would like to participate in future live hangouts, make sure you’ve joined our Google+ community.




During our hangout with Tracey Richardson from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, we took an inside look at the selection process used to determine the eportfolio vendor that would best meet their needs.

Embry-Riddle’s desire was to encourage deep learning among their students while also providing a way for students to demonstrate their skills to instructors at the university and potential employers.  This desire quickly led to the decision to search for an eportfolio platform.

A diverse selection committee was established to identify the criteria needed.  Topping their list was an “awesome” student interface and robust data collection.  Before viewing demonstrations of eportfolio systems, the committee developed a scorecard that was used to evaluate all the platforms being considered.

As ERAU narrowed down their choices Tracey said Foliotek “bubbled to the top quickly.”  Implementation first started with one program, but soon spread to other areas of the organization.  Foliotek is now used in various courses as well as quality enhancement efforts for two of their campuses.  Incorporating eportfolios into their faculty promotion and tenure process is the next big initiative.

Join our Google+ community and stay tuned for a follow-up hangout with Tracey regarding faculty portfolios!




What are you doing Tuesday, November 5th at 12 Noon CST?  The correct answer is: watching our live Google+ hangout with Nancy Schneider!  Nancy is the Coordinator of Elementary Student Teaching at +Lindenwood University.

Lindenwood is a veteran when it comes to eportfolios and has partnered with Foliotek for almost 10 years.   ePortfolios are used for artifact collection, formative feedback and standards-based assessment within Lindenwood’s teacher education, school administrator, and counseling programs.

Be sure to tune-in and learn how eportfolios have streamlined the teacher certification process at Lindenwood University!  Check out our Friends of Foliotek community (and join it if you haven’t already) for the event details.




During our live hangout, Ken Macur, Provost and Dean of Bethany College, offered valuable insight regarding the use of eportfolios for program level assessment.  This year Ken has worked with the faculty and staff of Bethany College to implement their vision of a campus-wide eportfolio initiative.

Many challenges come with a campus-wide eportfolio implementation, but perhaps the most significant challenge for Bethany College was the transition to program level assessment.  Ken encouraged faculty to “rethink assessment and move away from course-based assessment.”  Once faculty were able to translate course-based objectives into program outcomes, they saw the power of program level assessment.  At this point Ken said, “the converts started showing up like crazy.”

Throughout this process, it was also important for Ken to define what academic freedom means for his faculty.  At Bethany College, the curriculum and program outcomes are pre-determined for a course, but academic freedom is realized in how that information is taught.  Furthermore, the focus of eportfolio assessment is on the skills the student acquires upon finishing the program, not on the specific requirements of a course assignment.  Therefore, consistent measuring tools can be developed to assess these skills across many different courses.

We strongly encourage you to take a few minutes to watch our hangout with Ken!  We truly believe you will benefit from this discussion of Bethany College’s eportfolio implementation.




Mark your calendars for our next live Google+ hangout with Ken Macur on Tuesday, October 8th at 12 Noon CST!

Ken is the Provost and Dean of Bethany College in Lindsborg, KS.  He has been a key part of a campus-wide adoption of eportfolios, which was completed in one short year (certainly an impressive feat).  They began their journey with academic departments, but that’s not the end of it.  Bethany College also plans to use eportfolios in co-curricular areas to gather data on two of their General Education competencies: Personal Growth & Accountability and Service & Leadership.  This sounds like a great follow-up hangout to me!

Ken also plans to take eportfolios beyond student use as Bethany College faculty will eventually create presentation portfolios for use by admissions and advancement.  This is truly exciting stuff!

Make sure you join our Friends of Foliotek Google+ community so you don’t miss this hangout!  Additional details will be posted in the discussion board of the community.  There are two ways to get involved.  First, you can watch the hangout live and participate in the discussion; a link to the live hangout will be posted in the community.  Second, you can catch the recorded version at a later date.  We will post a link to the recorded YouTube video in the community after the hangout.  Either way, we know you will learn from and appreciate Ken’s experiences.

Turn the Tables

by Geoff Leigh

Cognitive bias — do you know what that is?  It happens to be another superficial, behavioral, psychological effect that we all fall prey to. Cognitive bias put simply is this, if your first impression of something is ‘x’ then you will inadvertently look for evidence that supports your first impression. Why?  Because as humans, we don’t like to be wrong.

Let me frame this in relation to your eportfolio. If you share your eportfolio with a potential employer and they quickly form a positive opinion from your first page, as they take the time to read through the rest of your eportfolio, they are going to be looking for evidence to support their first impression. Put another way, if they like what they see, then they’ll work hard to try to find evidence that backs up what they initially believed to be true.

This is a powerful behavioral effect that can help leapfrog you to the front of the employer’s short list of potential hires. Think about it. If the first page of your eportfolio is simple, clean, and effective at communicating the most relevant information, that potential employer is going to quickly form a positive opinion of you. Then, instead of looking for reasons not to bring you in for an interview, they are going to be looking for all the reasons to bring you in for an interview.

Hiring managers today, as they look through resumes and eportfolios, aren’t looking for reasons to include people, they are looking for reasons to exclude people. But with the right first impression, cognitive bias is going to turn the tables in your favor. All of a sudden, because of your eportfolio’s well-organized, visually-stimulating design, that hiring manager is working to keep you on the list instead of looking to exclude you.

Remember, design matters. It matters because we formulate opinions in a ridiculously short amount of time and our eyes are the fastest way we can digest information. Well, actually they are second to our olfactory senses, but eportfolios don’t smell. So take special care to consider what your eportfolio looks like and you’ll have all of those superficial, behavioral, psychological effects working in your favor.

Geoff on g+