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Reflection

Class e-portfolios: take two

I’m so excited! I just got off the phone with Tammy Ingram, the professor of the First Year Seminar (FYS) I’m tutoring as a Writing Center tutor this semester, and she’s totally open to creating a class e-portfolio. The class is called “ ‘Writing History with Lightening’: Southern History through Film.” She sent me a syllabus last week. Most of the assignments are one-page memos that analyze how southern history is presented through film. The final writing assignment is a proposal for a film about some aspect of southern history that the students imagine. Her syllabus is really what I needed to spark ideas about what a class e-portfolio might look like, because these assignments seem perfect for presentation in an electronic format. I’m meeting with her to brainstorm more next week, but here are some of my initial ideas:

  • Students can post their memos to a wordpress blog every week. This way, other students in the class can see what their peers are thinking about, and they can leave comments with their own opinions/thoughts on the topic. With the blog format, students can also include images, sound, and video clips to clarify their arguments and make their analysis more accessible to people who haven’t seen the films (parents, other students, other faculty, the whole world reading the blog, etc.)
  • For the final project, students can post their outlines and ideas online to get feedback from peers. They can also link to youtube or other sources of inspiration so that we see how their ideas are developing. Maybe having this space to post ideas will help people think out their ideas more and there will be fewer students who do everything the night before. (We all know this happens!) The final project may even turn into something more collaborative… as we know in the Writing Center, peer-to-peer collaboration really enhances student writing!

I also encouraged Tammy to incorporate a speaking assignment. Two years ago the Writing Center did research on the connections between speaking, writing, and critical thinking. It turns out speaking assignments, like speeches and debates, are just as helpful as essays for enhancing critical thinking. And the combination of the two modes of communication is even better! This already made sense to us on some level, because the whole purpose of peer tutoring in the writing center is to talk about writing, but there are other ways to combine speaking and writing. One way to utilize both is to assign a presentation on a paper before the paper is due. Students often say that figuring out how to present their topic to their peers helps them refine it. Once their topics are refined, they can delve deeper into analysis in the final drafts.

Something else that’s exciting about doing an e-portfolio for this class is that film is already a visual mode of communication. So maybe studying film will help me refine my understanding of e-portfolios. With so much speaking, writing, and visual communication going on, who knows what kinds of connections will emerge?

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