i started to write a response to philip about the great idea of starting student portfolios. mid way in writing the response, i noticed i lost the point of my email, but really liked what i wrote. so, instead of sending it to him i am posting it here.
Here is my initial reaction.
First, I think the blogs were a major success last semester. Blogging has become a great tool for Austen and I to communicate our ideas and actually writing them down helps a lot. (a side note, is that I think you are missing out on the Google Reader fun. google reader has totally changed how i learn and how i learn about others.)
With that being said, I am a little disappointed that the students don't blog on their own. I know its a hard thing to do. But, it is really useful to practice communicating. (i find it funny actually, its kinda like PSP, good while in class but students stop after class is done). To be honest, to a certain degree we are watching them and they have an opportunity to impress us (and the rest of the world). I think we are looking for insightful posts about teamwork, software development, ideas, etc - it takes practice and they should start now. and i'm not sure i saw a lots of communication between blogs, like comments etc. it would be great if that happened more.
Now on to the professional portfolio. I've noticed that a lot of the students blogged about creating their portfolio and their blogs say that they learned a lot by just creating the initial version. Thats great! Learning is the most important part. I think learning what value you add is far more important than showing it on a web page. After looking at a few of the students pages, i noticed that it didn't keep my interest. So, i thought about that for a while and came up with a list of things that does interest me.
Here is what i am interested in learning about a student:
- students that can communicate clearly
- students that are confident in what they have studied
- demonstrate that they have learned concepts and apply it to the real world
- demonstrate that they have worked on teams and in different situations
- show that they have been a leader
- show that they have been a follower
- prove that they have critical thoughts about a subject
- prove that they are driven
- prove that they have problem solving ability and then demonstrate it
- highlight something they wrote
- highlight a successful project
- explain why a project was not successful
- tell them why the company should hire them
- explain why they want to work at the company
- show the company that i did my homework
- have technical ability
the bottom line is that if the students did all those things; i'm going to check HIRE on my evaluation form. if I found a student like that, then who cares if they know Java. i guess i've learned that learning how to hack is the easy part. being able to show, demonstrate, prove, explain, and communicate those other things is not easily learned. i much rather teach someone java, than teach someone to communicate effectively. i even would rather teach someone the concepts of software engineering, than teach someone how to critically think.
thats why, i think portfolios are probably a small part of the story. teach the students how to think, communicate better, evaluate teams, learn from past experiences, and collaborate effectively and then you'll get a superstar student ready to soak up even more technical knowledge and theory.
but that's just me. i tend to be the type of person that thinks people are not replaceable. a person's potential is defined in their personality and drive; its not in their current technical skills.
with that being said, i do think a professional portfolio can highlight things i just said, but it takes a different focus. i have some ideas on how you can focus things differently... i'll leave it up the students to figure that out.