Today I was on the panel at Leeds Met Uni Learning Lunch: E-Portfolios event. I managed to get the team to set up the hash tag #LeedsMetLL and so we got quite a few questions from students prior to the event. The Leeds Met Employerability Office tweeted the event and kept up with the lively debate (so please read the tweets!).
There were three of us presenting slightly different aspects of e-portfolios:
Nicholas Halafihi – Senior Lecturer Sports Business Management talked about the pilot e-portfolio programme that is running with Year 1 students. The system enabled students to record the reflections, assessment, biography & other associated profile / learning information. With the idea being that epmployers would be able to view the CV / e-portfolio of the student when they are looking for work experience or employment. Employers would be able to login with specific details so they could only view that specific student. Two students came along to share their positive experience.
Ben Cotton – talked about ‘Going Digital‘ from a student perspective and how having a living e-portfolio available online has enabled him to build his online presence and credibility. He currently is on the Leeds Met Grad progamme and has had various roles within PR and will be taking up a new job in London at the end of the month . Ben is an avid social media user – and I had already started following Ben on Twitter, way before this event.
Ben mentioned that using the social media sites that are out there to build your e-portfolio is essential as it demonstrated to employers that you understand the industry and how to build a campaign.
It was useful being last as I could blend ideas from the two previous presentations. I do think there is a role for an e-portfolio system where students can document their journey and growth as a student. This information is important for a potential employer as you can see the strengths, weaknesses and skills of that person.
However it should not be used in isolation of the social media and online marketing sites that are available. Every person is their own brand, and it is important to build your brand, shout about your USPs and what makes you different.
So students, especially if they are looking for careers in journalism, IT, marketing, PR or advertising need to be engaged in the other social media sites to prove their proficiency and capabilty to employers.
However students need to learn and understand the ettiquette and importance of building an online brand and the credibility / integrity that goes with it. We all have those lary nights, but those photos that get uploaded to Flickr/ Facebook could be deterimental to your employerability in the future.
Having spoken to quite a number of my fellow business owners, they all said they check people on Facebook – and what they find, does influence the impression of that person. They also mentioned that they ‘Google’ a person and see what search results come up on their name. I wonder how many students acutally realise that? Scary huh?
Giving students these skills of to understand the importance of their online brand and maintaining their integrity / credibility is fundamental to building their e-portfolio.
The univerisities that enable their students to start off in a protected, internal e-portfolio system and helps them grow the skills / understanding of the other sites will improve their employerability of their students overall. The universities that get this the quickest and respond to the challenge accordingly, will be successful in winning students as well.
However this will need a step change internally – as students will need to collaborate and learn from each other, online within the e-portfolio system. So there needs to be joined up thinking between the facalties, so the areas of excellence amongst the students can share their knowledge and experience.