So… You want to build an e-portfolio, blog, or a website? There are ample different reasons why one may want to create one of these (perhaps extra credit for a capstone level course?). This post is a combination of reflection, instruction, and resource curation. I have built this website/e-portfolio and will draw upon my own experience to highlight tips, tricks, and hardships. I will do my best to inform you about options and not just use my own experience. So here it goes!
Why do you want an e-portfolio, blog, or website? Before playing around with WordPress or Google Sites one should know what their ultimate goal is. Is the goal to demonstrate growth and learning over the course of a program? To show employers a set of skills that would be beneficial to their organization? It can even be as simple as publishing stories, thoughts, and reflections unrelated to the any of these options.
Find your “why” before you move on.
What do I show the world?
What is a website if there is nothing on it? If the “why” is determined then the “what” is evident. For example, my fellow Kent State peers, for a bonus Case Studies assignment, must include the following:
- About Me
- Plan of study Overview
- Philosophy of Student Affairs (an assignment!)*
- Professional Development Plan (An assignment!)*
- “Artifacts” such as our syllabi and examples of our work.
If you are not a Kent Stater thinking about bonus points, craft your own philosophy for your field or self.
If you are create a e-portfolio for future employment, it may be good to have demonstrations of your work as well. For example, I curate my presentations from class and work on my website.
*Note: See Embedded under Resume in this post for tips on making your assignments more visible.
Where do I store all this stuff?
I personally recommend using programs such as One Drive, Google Drive, or Drop Box. On many of these sites you can have immediate access to your content from any computer if you needed to update it or post it. Being mobile can be pretty important, especially if you are a travel blogger.
For example, I use Google Drive because I am most familiar with it. I created an e Portfolio folder where I upload nearly all of my content such as a PDF copy of my resume (which has an auto-update feature), allows me to create links to copies of this material, and I can control the privacy (ex: only people with the link can see).
I do not recommend using an organizational account’s built in shared drive features though. For example, I attempted to use One Drive to share documents with persons, but the default setting was to only allow those who had an organizational account to view it. If the site is for external viewers this would be very unhelpful…
Selecting a platform
There are so many options for how to build your e-portfolio, website, or blog. Here are some examples: wordpress.com; google.sites; wikispaces.com; weebly.com; wix.com; shutterfly.com; squarespace.com; and more. Most of these options have the ability to create a “free” website; these typically have an ending such as “yoursite.wordpress.com.”
This may be the time to decide if you want to purchase your own domain. I think that I paid about $25 for two years of service for http://www.studentaffairsshane.com so they are not particularly expensive. I would recommend considering a domain purchase if you intend to use the website regularly and after its original purpose (in the case of you who are here to get extra credit!).
Confession: I use WordPress.com and do not know very much about some of the other platforms. However, there are ample forums, videos, and people out there who can help if you have a problem or cannot figure something out. It took me at least three hours to figure out how to create the tabs at the top of my website because WordPress calls them “menus” instead.
Once you have selected a platform mess around with it first. I originally started on another site, but switched to WordPress because I was frustrated by the other one. I could not figure out how to do anything. I was stubborn and did not follow any of my own advice and look for answers, but I have learned the error of my ways.
Let’s Talk about Content
Mission, Vision, and Values
Kent State readers have created this in some fashion or form via assignments for class such as our philosophy of student affairs, but it is also pretty important to be concise. For my Everything eLearning course I was required to create a Mission, Vision, and Values that were concise and easy to understand. I chose to make them pretty pictures because a website that is entirely text is TERRIBLY BORING. Also, I am linking some content from this course to this post if you are interested in concisely telling people what you’re all about.
Rubric for the assignment here.
Mission, Vision & Values Statements by Sasha Thackaberry
If you are job searching you definitely want your resume on your site, but what is the best way to do it?
Visual resumes are graphic representations of your experience and can be done in a wide variety of ways. The example below is one from Phil Rathosky, a 2015 graduate from the Kent State Higher Education Administration and Student Personnel graduate program.
Here is a link to Phil Rathosky’s visual resume (Pages 4-6 from his portfolio). And don’t forget to check him out on LinkedIn!
Here is a link to a visual resume by Paul Gordon Brown
It is really easy to “link” things on most platforms. If you check out my own resume page you will see that I have a hyperlink that will lead you to a PDF copy of my resume stored on Google Drive. This is the simplest way to ensure information is on your page, but what if you want people to actually “see” your resume on the webpage?
Scribd is a tool where users can upload documents such as papers, resumes, etc. and then embed them on web pages. It will create a box that will display your paper as a visitor to your site is looking at it. This is great for a resume, because it reduces a visitor’s (or employer’s) work by one click. Depending on your platform, this option may be built in.
Do you give presentations for class? How about work? Wouldn’t it be great if all of those presentations that show how awesome you are were in one place? Guess what? They can be! Utilizing Slideshare makes it easy to to curate all of your presentations. Just upload them and create a separate pages for each presentation organizing them all under the same menu or tab.
Keep in mind that putting your presentations on the internet makes them viewable by people from across the world and that people will view them. My conference presentation has over 300 views on Slideshare, for instance.
To blog or not to blog?
As you can tell I attempt to blog. I choose topics relevant to my interests in student affairs or just interesting in general and write my thoughts about them and their implications. I am probably not the best example of what I blogger ought to be, but I am dedicated to blogging even if it takes me a while to find my voice.
Do you have a brand, theme, or interest? Similar to finding your “why” for building a website it is important to know what you want to say and to create a clear, consistent message. My current blogging scope of student affairs is far too large, but I am in the process of discovery and finding my niche. Ideally, you know what you want to write, but if you are like me and are constantly in a process of self-discovery then it is okay to use your site/blog as a way to find your voice.
I fully admit that I do not model this in no way, shape, or form, but ideally a blog should be published regularly. I know that I have no room to talk, but I recommend publishing weekly. It will keep you engaged with the site as well as your readers (maybe you will even have a following).
When I say blogging, I do not necessarily mean that you identify a topic, perform research, check facts, and then write five pages APA. Although some of your content can be scholarly and contribute to a field, it can also be fun or reflective. For example, I try to attend conferences regularly and have developed “Conference Contemplations” as a way to reflect on my own learning after getting some professional development.
Some other ideas include interviewing awesome people and posting summaries of interviews, creating and posting infographics, telling stories, and much more!
WordPress Specific Stuff
So, I created a brief video to highlight how easy it is to create/edit pages and blogs in WordPress.com. Please view the video here. As of 9:27 AM EST, it was processing the video and may take a couple minutes, but check back later. If you have any issues, please let me know via the below contact info.
Thanks for reading! If you have any specific questions – feel free to reach out to me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweet me @ShaneYoung15