About Cynthia Davidson
Professor Cynthia Davidson uses ePortfolio in WRT 102, WRT 303, and WRT 302.
When asked about the use of Publishing Platforms...
Why do you use ePortfolio in your courses?
We have always taught with portfolios to demonstrate learning of writing skills and for the pleasure of sharing writing with an audience (showcasing best work); we have always used portfolios for end-of-semester assessment as well--at least since the early 1990s, when Drs. Peter Elbow and Patricia Belanoff began the trend of using best work portfolios to assess skill in college-level writing across the country (that began at Stony Brook). In that sense, it's intuitive that we would embrace ePortfolios as the evolution of those uses. ePortfolios encourage writers to compose with other modalities, as well--such as through portfolio design, photoessays, and digital stories.
How do students benefit from using ePortfolio?
Making and connecting. Students have the option of sharing their work with a public audience for whom their work may have relevance, not only their teachers. Writing is a skill, many would say an art, that is developed through practice and improved through sharing with others who can respond, react, counter, and provide all kinds of feedback. ePortfolios can make this happen easily. We have a robust developing ePortfolio community on this campus, and students are actually finding friendship and collegiality through the ePortfolio community, represented through the Digication directory and the many networking outlets that the ePortfolio community has (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, the campus website, YouTube). We have the Faculty Center to thank for making this network possible, and the students for making it come alive.
What are the benefits to you?
The primary benefits are delight in seeing what the students can make, watching them develop from skeptics to engaged communicators. By using Google Documents in conjunction with Digication, it is possible to see the students' writing as a process. We've always seen drafts, but now the drafting process is visible on a single document, like an archaeological dig....you look deeper into the comments and revisions and it can be a very beautiful thing. People often despise their writing because they think it is unbeautiful; they want perfect writing. I think there is nothing more beautiful than writing in the process of becoming better, especially better for the student. A delight and surprise has been to watch how digital storytelling has taken hold of the students' imagination in my courses and in some of the other instructors' classes. It does not take away from their traditional writing, but adds value, layers, of meaning to it.
What advice would you give to other faculty considering using ePortfolio?
To other faculty, I would say go look at what the students are doing in the ePortfolio spotlights and showcases and check out interesting work wherever you spot it. There will always be some who are slower to catch on; if they are negative at first, acknowledge their feelings but don't let that guide your experimentation, because many of the most negative users become the most enthusiastic later on. Remember that there is a learning curve and don't give up too quickly. Make your own teaching ePortfolio or personal ePortfolio that means something to you, so that you can model the process for your students. Emphasize reflection and making connections between all parts of the portfolio. Ask for help whenever you need it. Read a bit about ePortfolio pedagogy if you are not familiar with it--Tracey Penny Light's book Documenting Learning With ePortfolios is a good place to start.
Student ePortfolio Examples:
“I am just like you and everyone else on planet Earth who simply want to pursue our passion and dreams.”
Todd Latchford is a health science management major who is minoring in writing. He has several writing courses on his ePortfolio, as well as sections for his resume and trips. Only viewable within the Stony Brook Community.
"I'm of Romanian descent and born and raised in New York City. Biology's my major, writing is my minor so I am either always writing an essay or studying some science-related thing."