In the ePortfolio Express Series, rising sophomores and new transfer students work to design professional ePortfolios as part of their preparation for internships, majors and minors, and other extra-curricular opportunities.
We start designing ePortfolios by choosing a set of images that best represent us. The images must convey a message that students want to send about their goals and aspirations right now. We treat ePortfolios like websites that archive our professional work and accomplishments.
The color choices and organizational scheme is never simple; they are rhetorical, an issue that we examine. Graphic images and design, especially in a multimedia world like ours, are never simple or neutral. From the very first decision that students make with an ePortfolio, they are communicating meaning and offering a message about their work and worth. Before audiences ever read a word of the writing, they are enveloped in a visual space that is already communicating.
The concept of Sankofa will guide both how and why we use ePortfolios in our sessions. Visually and symbolically, Sankofa is represented as the mythic bird that flies forward but is constantly looking backward with an egg in her mouth. The egg symbolizes the future. In the Akan language in Ghana, the concept is expressed as: "se wo were fi na wosan kofa a yenki" which translates to "it is not taboo to go back and fetch what you forgot." Sankofa means that you need to reach back into what and who you “usedta be,” take the best of what your past has to teach you, and use all that to achieve your full potential in the future. Whatever we have lost, forgotten, forgone or have been stripped of, we can reclaim, revive, preserve, and (re)present. At its core, Sankofa is what ePortfolios offer us: a chance to look backward in order to simultaneously move forward.
This time in students' lives and this series of workshops compel them to think about and create the life that they want to lead. They are doing more than building a resume here. They are defining the professional, intellectual, and social identities that will sustain their time in college and beyond.
Image Credits: Sankofa in background by Drawn2theMoon