REFLECTION: '18 -'19
INCREASED THE TEAM
Added two Undergraduate Assistants, a Graduate Assistant, and Full Time ePortfolio Support Coordinator
BY THE NUMBERS
The year began with the challenge of on-boarding the bulk of the team. Three Undergraduate ePortfolio Assistants were new to the role (a fourth would be added at the start of the Spring 2019 semester). The Graduate Assistant position, newly funded by the Graduate College, saw a a returning assistant evolve into a new role tasked with fostering ePortfolio use among the graduate student population. The ePortfolio Support Coordinator, who oversees the daily operations of the student support team, was also a new position. Working to have all team members trained, comfortable, and ready to adapt to the frequently shifting expectations of their positions was in and of itself a major accomplishment, given the way in which the team is called upon to support students and programs from the jump of each semester.
Over the course of the year, the ePortfolio Team has continued to hone previous ePortfolio support mechanisms for both students and faculty. Among our established support mechanisms, we have continued our popular Class Visit Program, in which faculty can request an ePortfolio Assistant to present to their class. Typically, these visits are brief (20 - 30 minutes), with the Assistant introducing ePortfolios as a concept, explaining available resources, and demonstrating some basic processes. We also offer the options of follow-up class visits, during which an Assistant can address any questions that have emerged and demonstrate additional processes if needed. This year, we had a total of 67 visits, reaching approximately 1,690 students, compared to last year in which we had 45 class visits contacting approximately1,295 students. In our follow-up assessment, participating faculty have expressed high levels of satisfaction, reporting that they found the visits to be very useful to their students.
The ePortfolio Team has also seen an increase in our regular tutoring interactions with students. To date, we have completed 510 tutoring sessions (Fall: 213 and Spring: 297) as compared to 164 sessions in the previous academic year. This means we increased our tutoring numbers threefold in a single year. There are many factors leading to this increase, such as a recursive system in which I coordinate closely with faculty from our faculty development programs to connect their pedagogical efforts and our student support programs, as well as increasingly productive relationships with program administrators. However, we also believe that becoming a distinct team within the scheduling platform has been a major boon, as we were able to change our appointments to 30 minutes vs. 60 minutes without impacting other tutoring teams. Many issues we address can be done quickly, yet in the past we were tied to offering only hour long sessions. Now we are able to offer twice as many tutoring slots. For students needing more time, they can make additional appointments. Naturally, this change has lead to an increase in the number of students we can help.
We also continue to create and maintain brief tutorials on platforms including Google Drive, Wix, and WordPress. To date we have over a 100 such tutorials, which the ePortfolio Assistants update every semester.
Likewise, I continue to collaborate with faculty and program administrators in the production and implementation of WordPress templates. Examples of templates created this year include: French 102, Spanish 202, History 104, History 201 World Languages Major, World Language Minor, Marketing Education, Preparing Future Professionals, Advisors, and others. I am currently in the process of working with the English Language Center (ELC) to design a template for their summer program for the Mexican Military program (which will have 50 student participants). At this time, there are a total of 56 active WordPress templates.
It is also worth noting the extensive overhaul I completed of the ODU ePortfolio Program website during the Fall semester, with maintenance being done on it each subsequent week. The amount of time, work, and design such central sites take cannot be stressed enough, yet this kind of work is often invisible. We have had several faculty comment on the site’s robust content and ease of use, with one remarking, “It is the best ODU site I’ve encountered.” I work to update our ePortfolio gallery whenever possible, in an effort to reflect the growing culture and sophistication of student produced material.
The ePortfolio Team has also rapidly expanded its support mechanisms during the course of this academic year. For instance, with the advent of the ePortfolio Studio, Elle Tyson, the ePortfolio Support Coordinator, also created the Open Studio Hours, in which anyone may work on their ePortfolios while the whole team is also in the room working on their own. These are offered each week and have seen a steady attendance of a small group of students at each. In total, there were 61 instances of student participation in the Open Studio Hours. I also created and implemented the Asynchronous Video Feedback program in Spring 2019. This program extends support to those students unable or unwilling to make an appointment. This semester alone we have had 69 students use the program. Preliminary feedback has been glowing, with students finding it very easy to use and extremely helpful. In our follow-up assessment, students have also reported that they would recommend this program to others.
As mentioned previously, Spring 2019 also saw the launch of the ePortfolio Studio in the space that was previously known as the “iMPACT Center.” For the first time, the ePortfolio Team was given a space largely dedicated to ePortfolio support. With the conversion of the space, the ePortfolio Team had to come up with a series of mechanisms in order to assure that CHIP could most benefit from the space. First, I had to align the mission of the Studio to the Library Learning Common’s mission and outcomes. Next, we had to physically situate the room so that it would maximize tech use (often dictated by the availability of power outlets) while also striving to make the room inviting. We were able to make use of several monitors and computers other units were no longer using, increasing our number of terminals from two (working) terminals to six, with four stations having dual monitors (ideal for ePortfolio construction).
We also re-instated a Front Desk (to which we added another computer). Over the course of the Spring semester, the ePortfolio Assistants tracked their front desk interactions. The Front Desk had approximately 86 interactions with students, though it is no doubt more as the Assistants did not always record when they helped a student in that role. We have also instituted a public Slack channel to provide yet another avenue of communication for students and faculty. To date, 5 students have used it for “just in time” support, when the team was otherwise unavailable. It is also worth noting that our internal use of Slack, which began this year, has essentially revolutionized the team’s communication.
We also created a Room Reservation process, so that our CHIP colleagues and others had a means of using the space in an a trackable, organized fashion. In the Spring semester alone, the Studio hosted about 25 events, including CHIP meetings, a faculty development workshop, TRiO, Senior Bootcamp, Records Training, the Undergraduate Research Symposium, and so on. As with most of our programs, we also created a follow-up assessment mechanism, although many of our colleagues failed to provide us with feedback following the use of the room.
As security has been an issue in the Studio space for some time, we also worked with the ODU Police Department (via Jim Boothe) to install two new security cameras in the space. Since the Library does not permit us to lock the room once our tutoring hours are concluded, we have struggled with issues such as petty theft, messiness, property damage, and lewd commentary left on the white boards. It is our hope that the cameras will act as a deterrent to this sort of behavior. At the very least, it will allows us to possibly identify anyone responsible for some of the more egregious transactions.
In connection to the creation of the Studio, the ePortfolio Team began conducting ePortfolio Student Street Teams in Spring 2019. These street teams conducted very brief surveys on tight topics, for a total of four surveys. The eP Street Team initiative was in part a marketing strategy, to get the ePortfolio Assistants out among the students on campus, raising awareness of the ePortfolio Studio. The initiative has also provided invaluable insight into the students’ needs and wants, allowing us to design other projects in a more tailored way. As a result of four surveys, the ePortfolio Assistants interacted with approximately 675 students.
Also new this year was the ODU ePortfolio Social Media initiative, a project I designed as part of the ePortfolio Graduate Assistant’s position description. Morgan Xenos created accounts for the program on Facebook (64 followers), Twitter (115 followers), and Instagram (161 followers), with Instagram being the most popular and interactive with students in particular. Morgan also created and ran several marketing events in the Library Learning Commons and Webb Center Lobby. She has overseen a competition in which students who follow the ODU ePortfolio social media accounts are entered into a raffle for a portable digital projector.
Additionally, the ePortfolio Team has been charged with supporting many evolving initiatives and programs at the same time. For instance, I have been heavily involved in the design, facilitation, support, and assessment of the new LeADERS program. In the Fall semester, our team supported no less than 8 LeADERS orientations, offered multiple small group ePortfolio support sessions, multiple LeADERS ePortfolio workshops, and so forth. Similarly, we are tied to multiple grants, such as the NSF CyberImpact grant. This year marked the launch of the ePortfolio integration into the Cybersecurity program, for which our team has offered class visits, created screencasts, and offered mandatory tutoring as an option.
The ePortfolio Team has also been heavily involved in other collaborations throughout the course of the year. For instance, I worked with the Honors College, developing 3 ePortfolio Student Panels for the Spring Undergraduate Research Symposium. For this event, I had to identify, contact, train, and moderate for 9 student participants.
We have also worked with The Writing Center, sharing training between the teams. We have plans to collaborate on a final review of the Career Pathways website in May. As Career Pathways (Preparing Future Faculty/ Preparing Future Professionals) provided funding for the ePortfolio GA, we have also spent significant time and effort in overhauling the Career Pathways website. The ePortfolio Team has also offered workshops in coordination with CHIP colleagues, such as a workshop within the Senior Bootcamp series. We are planning to collaborate with Upward Bound during the summer. The ePortfolio Team has also manned tables at colleagues’ events such as Advising’s Tech Showcase: Registration Endgame.
As faculty development is a core component to the ePortfolio Program, I have continued offering, designing, and expanding our faculty development opportunities and instructional design mechanisms in connection to ePortfolio pedagogy. This year, due to other CHIP initiatives, our faculty development budget required some adaptation on my part. As such, in the Fall I ran 4 free Build Your Faculty ePortfolio Workshops, inviting faculty to spend time working on their own portfolios with guidance. Ten instructors participated. In the Spring, I collaborated with Remica Bingham-Rischer (Improving Disciplinary Writing) in designing a new workshop series, which we call Reflection in Action. This four part series returns to faculty who have been involved in our faculty development efforts previously, striving to help them deepen student reflection through more sophisticated assignment design. The workshop has been well-received by the faculty; we hope to make it a regular offering in a sequence of workshops. Fortunately, we were able to split the cost of this series with IDW, making it a relatively low investment in terms of cost but with good returns in the form of faculty buy-in.
I was also invited to conduct workshops for Advising and the Athletics Tutoring Team. This year I also received personal invites from faculty, such as Dr. Michelle Fowler-Amato and the new Associate Professor of Writing Dr. Kristi Costello, asking that I visit their classes as in my roles as the Associate Director and a scholar. Topics I was asked to address include the value of ePortfolios for graduate students, the pedagogical significance of ePortfolio use, instructional design strategies, and the rhetorical nature and value of multimodality across disciplines. In the Fall, I was also invited by Dean David Metzger to be the plenary speaker at the Virginias Collegiate Honors Council Annual meeting. As the plenary speaker, I delivered the opening lecture of the conference, then conducted a workshop for student participants, alongside Dan Cox.
I have also been actively representing various aspects of my work with the ePortfolio Program in the wider scholarly community. For instance, in the Fall I presented at the Virginia Assessment Group (VAG) conference with Lanah Stafford and Alison Lietzenmayer (Communication Lecturer) on the ways in which ePortfolio Assessment can actually serve as a High Impact Practice (HIP) for faculty. In January, I presented at AAC&U, sharing strategies for using ePortfolio integration as a curricular design strategy, as we have done in part with LeADERS. Other conferences include CCCCs and ODU’s Annual Writing Conference. In the coming months, I will be presenting at Computers and Writing (sharing strategies for negotiating the ethical concerns in connection to ePortfolio pedagogy), ODU CCCC’s (sharing multimodal strategies), AAEEBL (returning to ePortfolio Assessment as faculty development and HIP), and NCTE (sharing the ways in which mobile devices and mobile apps can be effectively harnessed to help cultivate students’ digital archival habits).
The above material is in no way exhaustive. The ePortfolio Program has been busy and productive on every level to the point that despite our best efforts to track and capture it all, some of it goes unmarked (the number of emails, individual meetings, and group meetings, for instance, is, like any program, staggering).