Magazine article Multimedia & Internet@Schools

Yes! You Should Create a Professional Portfolio

Magazine article Multimedia & Internet@Schools

Yes! You Should Create a Professional Portfolio

Article excerpt

MEDIA specialists enrolled in the online graduate course I teach are required to create electronic portfolios. They begin the process feeling uncertain and overwhelmed. They finish the process proud of their portfolios and of their accomplishments as media specialists. Even without the requirement of a class project, an electronic portfolio is a worthwhile pursuit.

What Is a Portfolio?

A portfolio is a collection of artifacts that document your professional work. It demonstrates your accomplishments, contributions, and professional growth. A portfolio is more than a resume; it contains representative samples of documents you have written, multimedia presentations you have created, and projects you have managed. A portfolio is dynamic. Although typically electronic, today's portfolios still may be a collection of print documents.

Why Create a Portfolio?

Portfolios represent you at your best and are tools for professional growth. The creation process is one of substantial personal and professional self-reflection, and it provides an opportunity to stretch your technology skills, writing skills, and creativity. It allows you to look at what you do holistically and, perhaps, more objectively. Cyndi Bowman, a media specialist from Kansas, wrote: "Creating the portfolio made me think about what I do that is significant to the life of the library in my school. I need to back away and look at the big picture to see how the library fits in to the fabric of the school. The portfolio forces me to put things together as a whole."

A portfolio is an opportunity to showcase your educational beliefs, works in progress, your role as a media specialist, and your considerable accomplishments. The collection also serves as a type of resume that can be used if you are applying for a leadership position within your district or for another job.

By going through the electronic portfolio process yourself, you will be well-prepared to assist others, such as preservice teachers, who are often required to complete a portfolio as a graduation requirement, or practicing teachers working on additional requirements for relicensure. Sherri Wolf from Kaukauna, Wis., wrote: "I wanted to be prepared to help new teachers create a portfolio, a requirement of the new teaching licensing laws in Wisconsin." You will also acquire skills and understanding that you can apply with your K-12 students, who are sometimes asked to create portfolios.

Finally, developing a portfolio aligns with NETS for Teachers' definition of Productivity And Professional Practice. Standard V encourages teachers to "use technology to enhance their productivity and professional practice" (National Educational Technology Standards for Teachers, International Society for Technology in Education, http://cnets.iste.org/teachers/t_stands.html).

Portfolios Are Practical

Portfolios are practical for many reasons:

* A portfolio will help you organize documents that you are proud of. Everything will be in one place, ready for future situations when you may be asked to show what you have accomplished and what you know.

* Portfolios are easy to update and dynamic. They can be changed as you and your media program evolve. Bonnie Bjorkman, a district media director from Illinois, commented: "This mini-portfolio was designed to follow the structure of this course while allowing some flexibility to input my administrative responsibilities. I look forward to keeping this portfolio as a dynamic document that can showcase the accomplishments and efforts of the district library media programs and staff." Anne Oelke was excited about updating the portfolio she created in 2004 to include the presentation she gave at the Wisconsin media conference.

* A portfolio increases your visibility and will, quite likely, impress those who view it, especially if it is Web-based. Wisconsin media specialist Sherri Zahasky linked her course portfolio to her media center's Web page. …

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