Session idea: Improving a Digital Teaching Portfolio

Teaching portfolios can serve myriad purposes in academia:  support for tenure cases, supplementary materials for job applications, inspiration for peers, making sense for ourselves of the big picture that we’d like to emerge out of our day-to-day just keeping up with classroom management, (lecture and other) prep, and grading. 

Putting a teaching portfolio online provides flexibility to demonstrate teaching strengths through multi-media platforms and to constantly update our materials as we change our approaches, refine our skills, teach new classes, engage new generations of students, etc.  The more our classes become dependent and connected to and through internet technologies, the more reason our portfolios should reflect that.

In this working session, we would walk through the teaching portfolio that I created in the fall of 2011 (and since have minimally updated) at gasperhulvat.com , and discuss how to improve it (and hopefully come up with some ideas for your own portfolios or web-based projects in the process!)

It’s a simple site and built on wordpress.  I’m an art historian, and a complete rookie when it comes to software, coding, graphic design, you name it!  I put this site together myself, hacked away (probably for way too long) at the problems I encountered building it, and I’m looking for any and all advice about what would make it work better.

Some of the questions I’m hoping to answer:

How can I make the homepage more engaging, more of an advertisement of my teaching skills and less of an outline? (I’m on the job market presently, so if I manage to get a search committee member on the site, I want it to hook them in, not overwhelm them!)

What is useful to the various constituencies who might visit my site, and what is junky useless filler?  I.e. How can I streamline it?

Do I need to worry about (anonymously) publishing student work on the site if I haven’t received explicit permission to post it (either verbally or in writing–and does that matter)?  Does having a password to protect the site help with this — is a password necessary, and/or does it place an unnecessary barrier to access which might prevent someone who could use the information from getting to it?  What if the work is already available online (say on Youtube) but only to people who have the http?

How much is too much?  (Right now, the site is too much!)  What can I do to more effectively make the site a “teaser” to my teaching rather than a full-out (confusing) demonstration of it?

People who might want to attend this working session include: 

  • teachers looking to develop online portfolios,
  • experienced builders of offline career portfolios (for tenure or other situations),
  • present/former academic search committees,
  • web designers and programmers (especially with wordpress experience) looking to help a rookie out,
  • folks with graphic design / web design aesthetics training
  • … and anyone else who might contribute to or learn something from this conversation!

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