The Digication Blog

In an era where higher education constantly evolves to meet students' diverse and changing needs, Colorado Mountain College (CMC), a Dual Mission, Hispanic Serving Institution, stands out as a pioneer in embracing innovative strategies for student learning.

One of the college’s most impactful initiatives is the implementation of ePortfolios, a digital platform enabling students to showcase their academic journey and accomplishments. This approach vividly represents the college’s commitment to student-centered learning.

For the most part, transparency in teaching and learning is on the front burner of the college’s plans, helping “faculty think through assignments and how they align with student learning outcomes, both at the course and institutional levels.”

We welcomed a respected guest, Abby Crew, on the recent episode of the Digication Scholars Conversations. Abby is the Assistant Dean of Academic Planning, Assessment, and Improvement: Curriculum Review and Innovation at Colorado Mountain College. The College’s expedition into ePortfolios significantly portrays a strategic alignment of academic and student affairs, transforming the student learning experience strengthened by learning outcomes. Adopting the learning and reflection tool aligns with its broader goal of enhancing student engagement and academic achievement, a forward-thinking approach to education.

Pilot Phase and Extending the Program with the Launch of Digication’s Kora Courses Features

Colorado Mountain College Journey Map

The ePortfolio initiative began as a pilot program, as outlined in the Journey Map, evolving and expanding with capabilities offered by the launch of Digication Kora Courses.

There have been endless possibilities for exploring and refining further with the ePortfolio, particularly as a tool for enforcing authentic assessment. Abby agrees CMC is “getting someplace” regarding program- and institution-level assessment.

Forthwith, there’s an opportunity to “move the work forward.” Sooner or later, the ePortfolio can become a tool for “reimagining advising aligned with academic and career communities,” shares Abby. Here one can see an initial draft of the vision for Embedding ePortfolio in Holistic Advising to Capture and Celebrate the CMC Experience.

In the meantime, a pivotal aspect of these structural improvements is a demonstrable alignment with the institutional learning outcomes and the AAC&U VALUE rubrics. CMC’s Institutional Student Learning Outcomes (ISLOs) of Knowledge, Involvement, and Application were developed in 2022-23. This alignment to ISLO's ensures that the ePortfolios not only serve as a reflection of a student’s academic journey but also adhere to established educational standards. The integration of AAC&U VALUE rubrics with ePortfolio assessment underscores the college’s commitment to maintaining a high-quality educational standard that is both rigorous and relevant.

Strategic Alignment with Academic and Student Affairs through the COMPASS Initiative:

The utilization of Digication ePortfolio is part of CMC’s broader COMPASS initiative, which seeks to align academic and student affairs strategically.

The initiative aims to create a cohesive and personalized educational experience for students, leveraging the strengths of both theoretical and experiential services to support student success.

The Beginning Stages of Adopting ePortfolios

Colorado Mountain College took a bold leap into digital portfolio adoption, crafting a narrative of educational innovation. Abby, a passionate leader, and strategic guide in this journey, clearly represents a quest to redefine learning experiences. The guided pathway she’s helped foster isn’t just about portfolios; it’s about transforming education through a strategic blend of academia and student engagement, setting the tone for a progressive educational era at CMC.

Piloting Innovation: Where It All Began

In the early days, CMC initiated a pilot program, a small yet impactful experiment that sparked the curiosity of faculty and students alike. Abby walks us through those foundational moments, illustrating how a modest beginning laid the groundwork for revamping educational practices.

But CMC didn’t settle for the ordinary. They seamlessly integrated high-impact practices into the ePortfolio ecosystem, turning a simple transition into a dynamic and engaging educational journey. It’s not just about adopting ePortfolios; it’s about setting a new standard for excellence in learning.

Sharing is caring, and CMC didn’t keep the ePortfolio excitement to themselves.

The institution spread its wings, participating with renowned organizations and opportunities like the AAC&U ePortfolio Institute and the Association for the Assessment of Learning in Higher Education (AALHE) assessment conference. Imagine being in a room brimming with innovative ideas and discovering the transformative power of ePortfolios in education.

The school has thrived on collaboration in these settings, exploring uncharted territories with colleagues to uncover innovative strategies and learning from institutions that have embarked on similar journeys.

Igniting Passion: Faculty Engagement and Resources

Imagine ePortfolios not as a task but as an exciting opportunity. With her infectious enthusiasm, Abby led the charge in positioning ePortfolios as more than just a tool; they became an adventure for faculty. It’s not about compliance but embracing a new way of teaching, engaging with students, and learning.

They didn’t mandate the use of the technology but instead extended an invitation to faculty to join the journey with their unique experiences and approaches. This opt-in strategy allowed educators to be partners in a transformative experience. And guess what? Students played a role, too. Advocacy bubbled up from within, making ePortfolios a shared passion between faculty and the bright minds they guide.

It wasn’t just about introducing ePortfolios but about creating a support system. CMC tapped into the power of embedded tutors and student scholars, making the ePortfolio experience collaborative. Picture an inaugural student symposium—a celebration of achievements and a testament to the collective brilliance fostered by a vibrant and multi-faceted showcase of student learning and reflections.

But, of course, resources were vital. CMC went all out to ensure faculty readiness. Onboarding checklists became roadmaps for this exciting journey, ensuring no one felt lost.

Like with the school’s preferred Canvas platform, easy integration with Learning Management Systems facilitated a virtual space where faculty can seamlessly integrate ePortfolios into their courses.

Student-Centric Voyage: Engagement and Support

Unleashing Creativity: Open-Ended Prompts and Student-Led ePortfolios

Now, let’s shift the spotlight to the students at CMC. Imagine ePortfolios as canvases for self-expression. Abby and the faculty at CMC introduced open-ended prompts, allowing students to shape their ePortfolios into reflections of their learning journeys. It’s not about ticking boxes; it’s about unlocking creativity.

Faculty didn’t just set the stage; they became role models. Imagine students as learners and active creators of their educational narrative. Faculty guided their paths while the students crafted their experiences. It’s a collaborative dance where educators offer support, but students take center stage.

Transparency became the guiding light. It wasn’t about hidden criteria but about laying everything out in the open. Faculty and students alike embraced openness and transparency in teaching and learning. Imagine a process where the learning path is well-lit, and every step contributes to the bigger picture of student outcomes.

Navigating Early Pilot Challenges: Lessons Learned

Recognizing Hurdles with ESL Classes

As with many innovative journeys, hurdles emerged when integrating ePortfolios with English as a Second Language (ESL) courses. Abby candidly shares the struggles, acknowledging that innovation sometimes comes with complexities. It’s not about shying away from challenges but finding solutions that ensure every student benefits.

CMC’s commitment to inclusivity goes beyond hurdles. Plans are in motion to offer instructions in Spanish, break down language barriers, and ensure that ePortfolios are accessible to all. It’s like gleaning from a future where language isn’t a barrier to education but a bridge that connects students to a world of learning.

Recognizing the reality of tech navigation challenges for students, CMC didn’t just identify the problem; they saw it as an opportunity for empowerment. Abby envisions a future where students confidently navigate the technological landscape, making ePortfolios an educational tool and a skill set that prepares them for the digital era.

As this journey continues, Abby underscores the importance of continuous evolution. Acknowledging that innovation is an ongoing process, there’s a call for feedback loops, close communication with platform providers, and continuing technology and resource development. A system that adapts, learns, and grows meets the evolving needs of faculty and students.

What truly stands out is the palpable enthusiasm among faculty members for outcomes assessment through ePortfolios.

Transformative Ripples: Impact on Student Experience and Multimodal Assessment

ePortfolios: More Than a Record, a Living Transcript

Let’s talk about how ePortfolios became more than a snapshot—they evolved into living transcripts. Abby envisioned a dynamic reflection of student journeys, where ePortfolios weren’t just records but living narratives—a space where every click tells a story of growth, challenges, and triumphs.

The college knew traditional assessment practices wouldn’t be enough. They instead embraced equitable assessment practices, recognizing the richness of diverse student identities. You can liken this to a gold standard assessment celebrating the uniqueness of every student’s journey. It’s not just about meeting benchmarks but acknowledging and valuing how students engage with their instruction.

Beyond the Ordinary: The Power of Authentic and Multimodal Assessment

Now, let’s dive into the heart of engagement—the authenticity and multimodality of assessment. Authenticity became the hallmark of evaluation at CMC. Assessments weren’t just tasks; they were real-world reflections of skills. Imagine a space where students weren’t confined to traditional measures but could express themselves through various mediums, creating a vibrant tapestry of assessments.

Empowering Futures: Articulating Institutional Goals and Student Empowerment

Igniting the Spark: Inspiring Innovation and Passion

Imagine an educational setting where innovation isn’t just encouraged—it’s the driving force.

Abby and the educators at CMC envisioned an environment that inspires colleagues and students alike. It’s not about adhering to norms but sparking a passion for learning beyond the classroom.

They didn’t just see ePortfolios as digital files; they viewed them as tools for democratizing higher education. Abby envisioned a scenario where every student, regardless of background, could access and benefit from the power of ePortfolios. It’s about breaking down barriers and ensuring that education is a universal right, not a privilege.

But ePortfolios at CMC weren’t confined to a checkbox exercise. They held intrinsic value beyond demonstrating institutional outcomes like an educational landscape that prioritizes the essence of learning, where the journey is as valued as the destination. It’s not just about meeting goals; it’s about understanding the profound impact of education on each individual.

It’s a passionate endeavor to witness student growth and achievement and provide meaningful assessment.

Looking Ahead: The Future of ePortfolios at CMC

CMC’s commitment to ePortfolios remains unwavering. Abby envisions a landscape where ePortfolios showcase institutional goals and become integral in shaping student learning experiences. It’s a commitment beyond the digital realm, impacting CMC’s education core.

In the grand tapestry of education, ePortfolios emerge as more than just a technological tool. They become catalysts for student learning and faculty engagement. Imagine a future where every student’s unique journey is celebrated, faculty finds joy in assessing outcomes, and knowledge isn’t confined to classrooms.

As we close this discussion on the Colorado Mountain College ePortfolio experience, we’re not witnessing an end; we’re standing at the threshold of a future where innovation, enthusiasm, and commitment shape the very essence of education. 

Don’t miss any episode of the Digication Scholars Conversations podcasts.