(This post is the third in a three-part series of Why the Liberal Arts Are Important.)
Now that I’ve clarified my unending and passionate love for the liberal arts and humanities, I think it’s time to bring it all home, or, how to see an e-Portfolio as a practical application of a liberal arts education. Putting it frankly, there is a certain Sisyphean element to synthesizing four years’ of academic work. Particularly when that synthesis not only entails writing a Senior Seminar paper (ASC’s equivalent to an undergraduate thesis), but justifying one’s chosen field of study to concerned relatives over the holidays. This is where having an e-Portfolio can be invaluable.
When I began the Digital Design Fellowship in June, I was given a couple of preliminary duties. First, to figure out what e-Portfolios are; second, to show Agnes Scott students that creating one could be an excellent, tech-savvy way to reflect and grow intellectually — for the purposes of this series, a means to an end in terms of “making sense” of a college education. Five months after taking my position as Digital Design Fellow (extraordinaire), I’ve made some headway in understanding my aforementioned preliminary duties. Interestingly enough, writing my series on the liberal arts has helped me put the quest into better perspective. Besides, it’s given me a forum in which to air my grievances quite publicly.
Let’s begin with the basic question of what an e-Portfolio can do for you, and for the sake of argument, what you can do for your e-Portfolio. In my experience, it’s best not to dwell on the literal implications of the word “e-Portfolio”; if you’re a helplessly visual thinker like me, you’ll get bogged down with images of clip art briefcases stuffed with last semester’s final papers. Think of the e-Portfolio not only as a digital repository for the papers and projects you’re most proud of (ones you wouldn’t mind being Googled), but a process log of your intellectual life. If you’re making your e-Portfolio on a platform like WordPress, it’s simple enough to create “pages” in which you can upload documents like resumes and projects, so that takes care of the “portfolio” part. Using this site as an example, what can make an e-Portfolio stand out in a sea of clip art briefcases is a blog component — what I meant when I mentioned that intellectual process log. Writing about your experiences is worth the effort in three ways: it keeps your thoughts organized, forces you to assess the quality of your writing, and perhaps most importantly, enables you to see how you (and your writing) have changed over time.
At the simplest level, attending a liberal arts college means you’ll take many courses in a variety of fields with the general expectation that, by graduation, you will have become an academically well-rounded member of society. Consider a scenario in which you are a rising senior who has kept an active e-Portfolio since your first year: you’ve chronicled the steps following your major declaration, and are entering the final assessment phase of your college career. Those posts over the course of three years are a visual representation of your growth and education, or an actualized synthesis of a liberal arts education. What swankier way to defend your major to a nay-saying relative than an invitation to your website? 21st century, y’all.
So here’s where I’ll finally exhale and let you marinate on the possibilities for your e-Portfolio. After last week’s posts got over 100 pageviews, I know you’re out there! Comment away, lurkers! Tell me I’m wrong, tell me I’m right, give me the link to your blog.
Above all, have a great Thanksgiving holiday!