Patrick Love and Susan Maxam, University Director of the Office of Student Success, recently wrote a chapter called “Advising and Consulting” in the book Student Services, in which they discussed using technology for advising purposes( An excerpt from the chapter is available here). Technology is increasingly used to share information and communicate with students, and Love and Maxam point out that students tend to prefer technology for communication because it is convenient, instantaneous, and user-friendly. Among tools such as facebook, twitter, and secondlife, electronic portfolios were given a special mention.
I caught up with Maxam, a member of Pace’s ePortfolio Advisory Board, to learn more about her opinion on the uses of ePortfolio.
About her own use of ePortfolios, Maxam states: “As a faculty member, I use ePortfolios to prompt students to articulate their learning goals from different perspectives and help them see the connections among their formal and informal learning experiences. Additionally, it allows me to show them the interdisciplinary nature of all of their courses as they often do not see how one course relates to the other.”
Seeing the relationship between courses and reflecting on how experiences and knowledge fit together is not only beneficial for the student personally, but it can also be a helpful tool for advisors to get to know their students and prepare for meetings. Maxam especially focuses on the use of ePortfolios as a “conversational springboard” to encourage students to reflect on their curricular and extracurricular activities and on how they come together to shape their college careers.
Academic Advisors can use the students’ ePortfolios to “discuss the holistic nature of their students’ education and critically assess their progress.” In “Advising and Consulting” Maxam and Love stress that technology is not a substitute for real-life interaction, but using ePortfolio can ultimately enhance and improve face-to-face time for both advisor and advisee by freeing up time and providing opportunities for preparation and reflection.
“ePortfolios are an invaluable tool for students, faculty and advisors,” Maxam told me. “Students are able to reflect on, and showcase, their accomplishments, strengths, and interests. At the same time, they can use their creativity and information technology skills to highlight who they are as a person and where they are heading, academically and career-wise. In fact, ePortfolios give students the competitive edge as most of their job-seeking counterparts do not have them.”
A great motivating thought to keep in mind for students as they work on collecting, selecting, and reflecting!