These are the 4 defining characteristics of ePortfolios given by Paul Treuer in 1996 to software developers:
1. E-portfolios were to be owned and managed by the users (i.e., the students).
2. E-portfolios were to be used responsibly, through selective, thoughtful sharing of granular pieces of digital information.
3. E-portfolios were to be used to promote critical reflection.
4. E-portfolios were to be used to foster lifelong learning.
I think point number 2 is of particular importance as we think about the role of FYC in preparing students to create their ePortfolios. Specifically, if we ask first year students to create an ePortfolio, we have little hope of their being able to compile artifacts of their learning in a selective, thoughtful, responsible way if for no other reason than the fact that they will only have a single year of college instruction to draw from (to say nothing of the fact that most (maybe all) of their selections will be, at the end of four years, their LEAST representative work.
Goals 1, 2, and 3 however can (and probably should) be long term goals that students are introduced to at the beginning of their college careers. The earlier they start thinking in these terms about their learning, the more prepared they will be by the end of their degree.
So maybe the role of FYC is to 1) prepare students to make an ePortfolio down the road by introducing the concept, its goals, its payoffs, its methods, etc.
2) have them practice these habits of mind by creating a practice (or learner’s) portfolio.
This is where the eportfolio tool in Canvas might be incredibly useful: allows them to practice without making it public and ties in to their course work (at least the courses that use Canvas) throughout their career. The added benefit is that students who never complete the final, polished, public ePortfolio will still have practiced the skills of connection & reflection between all their classes rather than simply taking each course as an individual unit of learning.
Maybe we call them Spider Portfolios–emphasizes that their job is to make a web of learning AND it sounds more interesting than Practice Portfolios 🙂