Dr. Michelle Holschuh Simmons, a lecturer at the San Jose State University School of Library and Information Science (SJSU SLIS), recently wrote a four-part series of articles explaining how e-portfolios have evolved as a culminating project option for students in the School’s fully online Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program.
The article series, titled Using the Electronic Portfolio as a Capstone Project: The Rationale, Logistics and Reflections, was written in conjunction with SLIS lecturer Beth Wrenn-Estes and four SLIS alum, who shared portions of their own e-portfolios as examples in the articles.
SLIS began offering the electronic portfolio, or e-portfolio, as a capstone project option in 2006. “About 98 percent of students choose the e-portfolio option over writing a thesis,” said Simmons, who is an e-portfolio advisor.
According to Simmons, the articles provide insight for educators who are considering adding the e-portfolio capstone to their own programs. However, the series can also help current and future MLIS students better understand the e-portfolio, including its purpose and the creative options it offers for students to demonstrate their mastery of professional competencies and use of emerging technology.
The first article looks at the e-portfolio’s purposes, structure and content. The second and third explain the different technologies SLIS has used over the years to help students create their e-portfolios, while the last article describes both the challenges and successes of this approach to a graduate program culminating experience.
“As a fully online program with faculty and students located across the globe, we felt that our distributed environment adds a level of complexity that makes our experience administering this capstone experience worth sharing with a wider audience,” Simmons said. “Knowing how challenging it is to develop a meaningful, rigorous and valuable capstone experience, I wanted to share our e-portfolio project with other educators – and show off our fabulous program a bit!”
The article series originated as conference presentations given in 2011 and 2012. When Simmons and Wrenn-Estes first started working on presentation proposals, they knew they wanted to involve students. Four SLIS students – Genna Buhr, Sylvie Rusay, Alejandra Saldana-Nann and Donna Zick – joined them at several conferences in 2011 and 2012. All four individuals have since completed their MLIS degrees.
After one of the presentations, the managing editor of The Evolllution: Illuminating the Lifelong Learning Movement asked Simmons to rework the conference material into a series of articles. The resulting four-part series can be downloaded here, and is also available on The Evolllution’s website.