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University of Michigan Self-Expressive Portfolio

The Self-Expressive Portfolio is an important component of the University of Michigan MPortfolio Project.  It offers learners creative flexibility to author content while providing them with tailored guidance according to their specific program, course, or department. A diverse set of academic and co-curricular programs participate using a common foundation. It is available within CTools, Michigan's Sakai-based course and collaboration system. The portfolio components are built with the Open Source Portfolio (OSP).

The core of the Self-Expressive Portfolio is the portfolio presentation, a web site comprised of pages authored by the learner. The learner is provided with model organization, sample content, layout, and reflective prompts. There are a variety of design templates available for personalization. These presentations may be shared with members of the Sakai site or, by using a Public url, with anyone who has internet access.
During the authoring process, individual pages are created with detailed guidance provided by each program. This offers the learner a starting point for each page and instruction on suggested content. Programs commonly include samples for pages such as Welcome, Goals, and Work Showcase. Typically, the Work Showcase allows for multiple examples of work or research, organized by specific skills or activities. The program can provide options for these categories. While editing pages, the content has the same styling and dimensions as within the final presentation.

Implementation

The Self-Expressive Portfolio is constructed to be flexible for implementers as well as for learners. It uses carefully engineered OSP components, such as Forms and Portfolio Templates, to afford simple flexibility for individualized programs. The common infrastructure of pages and themes is quite free-form, allowing students control over nearly all content on a page. This reduces complexity and enhances re-usability for the implementers.

Customizing visual themes is also simplified, where the conventions of the standard model allow staff with basic CSS familiarity to modify existing styles or create new ones. Many of the traditional costs of customization of portfolios in OSP are reduced or eliminated. Note:  The themes included with Page Composer are specific to the University of Michigan and will need to be modified.

There are also a number of enhancements to the basic editing process that support learners and reduce errors. These include auto-saving of content and measures to prevent accidental navigation away from the current page or other actions that could cause loss of work.

There are more technical details available at Michigan Scaffolded Portfolio Authoring Work.

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