Foliotek Blog

INSTANT REPLAY: OUR HANGOUT WITH CHRIS PELCHAT

by shawna@foliotek.com

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.

Hangout_Video

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!


THE HANGOUT WITH CHRIS PELCHAT

by shawna@foliotek.com

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 sha...@foliotek.com to learn more.


INSTANT REPLAY: OUR HANGOUT WITH EMILY SPRINGFIELD

by shawna@foliotek.com

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.

 


INSTANT REPLAY: OUR HANGOUT WITH TRACEY RICHARDSON

by shawna@foliotek.com

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!

 


THE HANGOUT WITH NANCY SCHNEIDER

by shawna@foliotek.com

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.

 


INSTANT REPLAY: OUR HANGOUT WITH KEN MACUR

by shawna@foliotek.com

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.

 


THE HANGOUT WITH KEN MACUR

by shawna@foliotek.com

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+


First Impressions

by Geoff Leigh

Do you think visual first impressions don’t matter? Do you feel the content of your eportfolio is more important than the initial, instinctive reaction to the visual aesthetics?  Well, I’m sorry to say, you’re wrong. Research shows that people draw a positive or negative impression of your eportfolio within the first 50 milliseconds. Add to that the “Halo Effect“ I discussed in my last post, and you have the potential for someone to think you are amazing, or a loser, faster than you can blink.

So what does this mean for the design of your eportfolio?  It means it better look good.  And the primary method to make a beautiful visual eportfolio wrapper is — simplicity.  If people are able to make an instinctive conclusion about who you are based on their first 50 millisecond reaction to your eportfolio, then what they see needs to be simple and draw them in.  Here is what I suggest.

You’ve heard the term K.I.S.S. before (Keep It Simple Stupid).  That’s precisely what the first page of your eportfolio should be.  If you get the first page right, then you have a chance of keeping their attention and feeding them the information you want to them read in the rest of your eportfolio. This is tied to “Cognitive Bias“. More on that in the coming weeks. So, let’s look at some tips for optimizing your first page for 50 millisecond success.

  • Keep the text of the page to a minimum
    If you are in love with words and feel they are your primary means of expression, then fill the rest of your eportfolio with words. The first page should be paired down to the bare essentials. Maybe 250 words or less.
  • Structure your text
    People are able to absorb information better when it is placed in a hierarchy of some kind. Use short bullet points, if necessary, and bold the words that help people digest the content as quickly as possible.
  • You like pictures? Then pick your favorite one and don’t add any more.
    The use of an eye catching image is a very powerful way to grab the audience’s attention. But be careful to choose an image that fits in with your design; you certainly don’t want that primary image competing with the other important elements on your main page.
  • Layout matters.
    People read from left to right, top to bottom. Often times it is in the shape of an ‘F’. Make sure the most important attention grabber is in the top left corner of the screen.
  • Organization is very important.
    Think carefully about the content you are displaying and organize it in a way that helps the user consume it. Don’t force them to figure out what you are trying to say, your content should draw them in without forcing them to understand your unique way of thinking.

50 milliseconds is crazy fast. If you are using your eportfolio as a supplement to your resume, or as your resume itself, then spend the time to ensure the first page of your eportfolio is perfect. If it is, then that potential employer is going to like what they see, read more, and believe you are better than the rest of the candidates. Good luck.

Geoff on g+


Why Design Matters

by Geoff Leigh

So, does design really matter? Is it worth a few extra hours to think carefully about the visual aspects of the content you publish online? Maybe. Let’s take a look at what basic behavioral psychology has taught us about superficial tendencies related to a visual stimulus.

Maybe you remember Psych 101 back in college? I certainly do. My professor, Mr. Krull (not a full professor yet, hence no ‘Dr.’, that’s another story entirely), was an exceptional teacher; a bit of a rarity at an academic institution where so much emphasis is placed on “publish or perish”. Because Mr. Krull was such an amazing teacher, I can clearly remember our discussion of the “Halo Effect“. It is one of the rare gems I actually pulled from my $60,000 education; possibly because it simply made sense (something I’ve always thought about behavioral psychology).

The “Halo Effect“ is this: if you find something attractive about someone, you will naturally attribute other unsubstantiated positive attributes to that person. So, for example, if you find someone at a party attractive, then you might also think they are respectable and generous; even though you have no evidence from which to draw that conclusion. Because they are attractive, you simply assume they are respectable and generous. It’s a bit depressing to think that our natural state is so superficial. But, instead of dwelling on the negative, why don’t we flip it and make it a positive.

Lets look at how you can make this not so “warm and fuzzy” fact apply to your online content (eportfolio). Take a moment and reflect on it. How does the information in your eportfolio look? Is it well organized, visually appealing, even attractive? Is it possible that Halo Effect principles also apply to the online, visual representation of you in your eportfolio? If you took the time to present your information well, wouldn’t the audience absorbing that information draw conclusions about you that you never presented in your artifacts? Now, giving consideration to the Halo Effect, isn’t it possible that those viewing your content could decide, because they find your content attractive, that you have many other positive characteristics that aren’t overtly demonstrated in your eportfolio? Yes, of course, it’s completely possible. Because of this superficial tendency, if your eportfolio is presented well, the audience viewing it will draw unsubstantiated conclusions about you. Wouldn’t you want those to be positive unsubstantiated conclusions?

Taking the time to visually improve how you are representing yourself online, will pay dividends in the future. The Halo Effect is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the powerful effects of visually stimulating artifacts. There is more research on this topic than you can shake your finger at, so sit tight – there’s more to come!

Geoff on g+