As I continued to read Weller’s 25 years of Ed Tech, I found reading chapter 15 several times and wondering why it is that e-portfolios have not become a standard in higher education. This past summer, I was required to take a mandatory course through my institution, to allow me to teach students online. At first, I felt the course was redundant and was no use to me. I had already spent the previous ten weeks trying to navigate the online world of teaching due to (COVID-19). I have been teaching in my current program for the last five years. I was never introduced to e-portfolios. To be honest, I never knew they existed within Bright Space (D2L) until I was exposed to them during my course. A quick poll conducted by the instructor indicated that only one out of thirty-two of the permanent faculty members taking the course had experience with e-portfolios. According to our instructor, e-portfolios had been commonly used for years on campus. However, only 3.12% of our cohort had used them previously. It was interesting to see Weller’s perspective on why e-portfolios have not gained more popularity. He laid out four issues that have reduced their use; the first is overcomplication due to some programs and software being complicated for the user. The second is essential that the user have buy-in and feel they have a purpose for using an e-portfolio. The third was that institutions were focusing on them as a tool rather than a learning environment to share, contribute, and reflect on learning. His last was that it was more likely students would continue to shape their digital identities through blogging rather than the use of e-portfolios. I decided to conduct some research of my own regarding e-portfolios within my current school and branch out to other schools within my institution. I am interested in finding out which programs most commonly use e-portfolios and if student engagement is increased in an asynchronous environment.
The second lesson came from chapter 16, Twitter, and Social Media. The uses of social media within my specific program has been discussed at great lengths with our faculty. Some feel that it is a benefit for students to reach out within the industry and make connections; others think that social media has a negative effect on how students are perceived. Our institution has strict policies in place on the use of social media for academic purposes and learning environments. However, as Weller states studies have shown that student retention and engagement have a direct correlation with students maintaining relationships within the world of social media. I believe that while social media can have a positive impact on learning, it is also opening the door for negative environments. I remember when Facebook first hit the internet, and the primary purpose was to widen your social network, meet new people, and share positive life events. I have found over the years that it has become a place where others post fake news, complain about life, and look for negative in others. We just recently had a guest speaker from a large corporation talk to our graduating students about what they look for when hiring employees. She went into details of resumes, what to wear to an interview, and the questions they should ask at an interview. She closed her talk with, “Oh, by the way, my advice to you all, make your social media accounts private. So when I google your name, I don’t see a picture of you with a drink in your hand. This is how I determine if I will hire you or not”. I was actually in shock, that she said what she did, how could she judge a person by a picture alone? After the session had ended, I called her and asked if she was serious about what she had said about how she hires. Her response was, “of course, I want to know that my employees are socially acceptable and don’t party. I actually think I was speechless for a few minutes, I closed my conversation with, “you can’t judge a book by its cover, and pictures are not always worth a thousand words. If they were, then I am sure HR would not have hired you” The guest speaker was apart of my social network, and her posts are often far from appropriate, yet she chooses to judge future employes on social media posts and pictures. I am still trying to find a way to encourage my students to use social media positively to help create connections within the industry.