AAEEBL 2014 Conference Recap

Last week, I presented at the Association for Authentic, Experiential and Evidence-Based Learning conference in Boston. Essentially, this is the ePortfolio conference. I attended several interesting sessions, from a range of conference tracks – from Digital Storytelling, to Learning-Oriented Assessment to Multimodal Assessment.

The sessions I attended didn’t dwell the “nuts-and-bolts” of the educational technology they use to make their portfolio programs run, but there was definitely a lot of discussion on how institutions could make better WordPress, like we do at Trinity. What’s especially interesting is that a lot of ePortfolio issues that many institutions grapple with are actually easily served by WordPress. Here’s a brief rundown of two of those issues, and how WordPress can handle them:

Students have a hard time connecting learning experiences. Website construction is essentially building virtual connections between different pieces of content. WordPress categories and tags allow students to connect portfolio posts with keywords and short phrases, then build site navigation based on those terms. The connections between different content entries become tangible. Take a look at Olivia Tapsall’s “Communications” category in her Trinity Portfolio. She’s made connections between community learning, athletic and travel experiences by tagging all these posts as relevant to her communication skills, all by checking a few boxes.

Should portfolios be private, and solely for the benefit of the learner and advisor; or should they be public and searchable? This was definitely a “hot topic” at the conference. WordPress allows either, and several levels in between. Trinity Portfolio sites can be visible to only the author and those they give permission to, or they can be published on the web, and fully searchable. Select pages can be kept private, drafts can be hidden until published. Pages can even be password protected, so students can private pages within a public site.

Of course, we use WordPress for much more than portfolios here at Trinity. If you’re interested in getting started with WordPress or portfolios, contact your Instructional Technologist.

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