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Skills Fostered by the Web Portfolio Process

The very idea of creating a Web portfolio makes people cringe. This is especially evident in those who do not embrace technology and the Internet. But the Web portfolio and the creation process that is needed to effectively create one is a lifelong learning, skill building process in which the creator comes away with more than technical skills, but also personal reflections that can be shared and may evolve into a greater idea. The ability to take a personal inventory of creative content and software and design skills is invaluable in the lifelong learning process. You can take a step back and think about the things you know and compare them to the things you want to know in order to design and post a Web portfolio. The skills needed and acquired by creating a Web portfolio are extensive. When you really get down to examining the Web portfolio and its benefits in a critical fashion, you realize that the Web portfolio development process helps develop the central skills needed by the new millennium knowledge worker; that is to say anyone who hopes to succeed in the new millennium by securing and retaining meaningful work-for-hire situa- tions. Creating a Web portfolio is most definitely, an intense learning experience. The experience brings the creator through emotional highs and lows with each new success and failure. Along the way, the Web portfolio learning experience will enable you gain a massive amount of information. Then you take the information and process it. Finally, the Web portfolio has been transformed into a technology project that requires an extensive learning (compared to simply sending an e-mail) of software and digital processes.  But, this learning and the time it takes is well spent. You, as the learner, walk away with the ability to create a Web site. The same conceptual and technical processes learned through Web portfolio development are the same as those used in creating any Web site, regardless of goals or audience. In the larger sense, learning how to create a Web portfolio gives you digital skills that will reap rewards for you throughout your life. The list of skills needed and learned during involvement in the Web portfolio can be quantified in technical terms. To identify specific discipline skills need to develop content all would require a dedicated research effort looking at the Web portfolio content collection and development practices of students and instructors within in that particular discipline. That is not the purpose of this text. However, there are some important skills and personal attributes that become critical to the Web portfolio development process, both in development and during learning and growth cycles. They include conceptual a nd logical skills such as brainstorming, information seeking, knowledge organization, classifi- cation, sketching, flowcharting, writing, visual design, and artistic engineering. The technology skills include basic computer skills for managing files and folders, graphic application skills to create and prepare text, graphics, and multimedia artifacts, Internet development to test and post Web pages, and critical evaluation and usability identification skills to determine the quality and effectiveness of the Web portfolio.

The Web Portfolio as an Appearance

The Web portfolio is an extension of the public, professional appearance of an individual or a business. I’m going to describe a brief analogy to explain the underlying purpose of the Web portfolio. Later on in the text we will get process specific. The new media portfolio, the financial portfolio, and the artist’s portfolio are the same in the fact that they are content containers. However, they differ drastically in their purpose and application. Simply described, financial portfolios are used to make money for people in the financial markets. The content is stocks, bond, funds, and other financial instruments. This is a private portfolio, seen only by the user, advisor, and creditors. The artist’s portfolio has content that includes photographs, drawing, paintings, and other artist representations. The artist’s portfolio is used in interpersonal situations where the artist and the viewer are both present, sharing the experience. Contrary to restricted situations, the Web portfolio is a mass communication experience. Just as in the case of the moving image mass communication mediums such as film and television, the Web portfolio has the potential to be anonymously viewed by anyone with Internet access. Web portfolios are a media that illustrates a construct that connects with the ideas put forth by Marshall McLuhan when he declared the existence of the “global village” created by electronic media.  In 1997, in his web design tutorial On McLuhan: Forward Through the Review Mirror, McLuhan stated that “In the electric age, we wear all mankind as our skin”. This was extended by his concept that technology is an extension of man. He puts the idea into literal terms by explaining in his web design tutorial The Medium is the Massage that the wheel is an extension of the foot, and electronic circuitry is an extension of the central nervous system. So following Professor McLuhan’s theory, I propose to say that the Web portfolio is an extension of the appearance. Specifically, the Web portfolio is an extension of the public and professional appearance of the creator within cyber space and transferring into everyday public life. So when developing the Web portfolio, we must take care to insure that it properly represents our intended appearance. The appearance is constituted by content, design, functionality, and the overall persuasive impression that the Web portfolio makes on the viewer. Let’s say a job candidate goes in for an interview and shows his Web portfolio to the potential employer. When the site loads, rather than present his latest project accomplishment at his programming position with ABC company, hardcore heavy metal begins to play and a photo montage of the job applicant slamming a beer and banging his head at a concert loads on the homepage. This is not a very constructive Web portfolio page. It has nothing to do with personal likes or dislikes, it is about persuasion. If that was a Web site for a heavy metal band or a personal site for a band member, that would be great, but for a Web portfolio, you need to focus on the specific goals you have for the viewer. The Web portfolio creates an appearance that you as the creator must control.

The Benefits of Web Portfolios

The creation of a Web portfolio offers the following benefits to individuals:

• Creation of a Web portfolio makes you a learner

• Creation of a Web portfolio provides opportunities for you to learn about technology • A Web portfolio will improve your impact when trying to persuade an audience

• A Web portfolio is an effective tool for demonstrating your competence

• A Web portfolio can help you get a job

• A Web portfolio is portable storage and presentation capability

• A Web portfolio promotes a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction

• A Web portfolio is evidence of personal growth

• Skills learned while creating a Web portfolio can be applied in other projects (Kilbane &  Milman, 2003, pp. 22-28)

The creation of a Web portfolio offers the following benefits to businesses and freelancers:

• Creation of a Web portfolio makes the company identify its accomplishments

• A Web portfolio will improve the company’s impact when trying to sell

• A Web portfolio is an effective tool for demonstrating organizational competence

• A Web portfolio can help get clients, projects, and sales

• A Web portfolio is a portable storage and presentation capability

• A Web portfolio promotes a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction in the organization

• A Web portfolio is evidence of company growth

• The Web portfolio is a dynamic asset to the organization.



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