While at the 2016 Western New York Blackboard User Group learning day, I had an opportunity to sit in on a presentation about Blackboard portfolios. This was given by Danyelle O’Brien from Alfred State. At JCC, there has been some interest in using portfolios so this was very relevant to me. Danyelle answered a lot of my questions about using Blackboard’s portfolio platform.
Blackboard’s portfolios are basically a separate platform that is integrated into Blackboard. Portfolios are built and maintained separate from a course but can be given as a course assignment.
Danyelle offered other ideas for portfolio use other than expected student progress. Portfolios could be used to track faculty tenure and promotion requirements. They could also be used to track club and organization activities.
One of the big questions we have been struggling with has been, “What happens to the portfolio when a student graduates?” Danyelle shared that students can download the portfolio into a zip file and then use it within another platform such as Evernote, Google Docs, Google Sites, etc. At Alfred State, users are disabled 1 year after graduation.
Recommendations for using Blackboard for Portfolios
Danyelle offered three recommendations for delivering portfolios using Blackboard.
1. Build templates
Prior to using portfolios in a class, Danyelle recommends creating templates that can be used as part of the class assignment. Only administrators can create templates. In the case of JCC, we have to go through the SUNY Blackboard administrators.
Faculty should build a template in their portfolio area. Administrators can then a build a template from the example the faculty member created.
2. Creating portfolios
Students and faculty can create independent portfolios. Students can be assigned a portfolio as a class assignment using a template. It would not be unusual for students to have multiple portfolios based on the classes they are taking.
There is flexibility to portfolio layout, and students can change the layout.
When adding content to a portfolio, students can reference items submitted to any of their classes. Because of the temporary nature of membership to the Blackboard system, Danyelle recommends linking to external resources and sites as much as possible. She also recommended using PDF files as much as possible.
The portfolio entries can be enhanced with text formatting as well as embedding videos and pictures. Make it your own.
3. Sharing portfolios
A portfolio can be shared internally, externally, or submitted as an assignment.
Portfolios used across a campus can show how students improve over time.
This was a very informative presentation. Based on what I have learned, I am ready to have intelligent conversations on the JCC campus. If you want to know more, please contact me.