In Two Things to Consider When Developing an E-Portfolio, Kevin Currie-Knight talked about the two advantages of having a website as an academic: signalling and the unique presentation of materials. First, having any online presence is becoming increasingly important for signalling, otherwise we would not have this entire series of posts. More specifically than Facebook, LinkedIn, a blog, or even a personal website, Kevin wrote specifically about the advantages of an E-Portfolio (electronic portfolio, digital dossier, or whatever you want to call it). The digital portfolio has risen over the past few years as an increasingly common way of showcasing yourself for the job market, tenure-review, or even post-tenure review and as resistant as academia is to change, it will probably continue to gain popularity for good reason.
But what exactly is an electronic portfolio? Inside Higher Ed has an ongoing series about electronic portfolios for academics that is extensive (though at times more verbose) and goes into strengths, advantages, difficulties, and more in developing an e-portfolio. They have even begun work on an overview of how to set up your e-portfolio, but here’s the bottom line:
an electronic portfolio is an online version of your portfolio that utilizes the flexibility of a website.
Note that it is more than your CV hosted on a website–though your CV should be available on the site. The point of a digital portfolio is to utilize the advantages that a website has over a paper dossier. As Kevin pointed out, an e-portfolio can include video clips, audio, and other examples
of your integration of technology with your teaching and work such as links to articles, publications, or blog posts. The sprawling, but easily organized format of the web allows you to compile discrete materials that would otherwise be ungainly piles of text and images on paper.
You may wonder if there is a difference between a digital portfolio and a personal website. If you read our previous post on setting up a WordPress site and saw the example website we are working on, you will note that the materials on the site are in many ways similar to an electronic portfolio. We will have a future post specifically on setting up an explicit e-portfolio, but the elements that make an e-portfolio are transferable and equally useful for your personal website as an academic. Having your own blog, information on and links to your research, and even media on your site of interviews or teaching is incredibly useful in showing people who you are as a scholar in a dynamic context, not in just one dimension. Whether you decide to specifically develop an e-portfolio or a personal website, all of these things add up to present you, as a complete person in the way that you want to be seen.
Further, having an online presence gives you credibility that stems from the signalling potential of the internet. This is why we place so much emphasis on curating your public image, which is most easily managed through your online presence. It may not be a replacement for your scholarship, references, personality, and overall quality as a scholar, but as the job market becomes increasingly competitive, demonstrating as much of your competence in as many ways and in as many realms as possible will only become more important to professional development.