Port” means “carry”. “Port” also means “interface” or “hold”. "Folio" is a way to organize pages of a book to give it meaning. Portals are openings of communication through which people can enter or leave a country easily. Port means "to carry". We carry our personal and career stories with us and share them at every port.
Port also means interface or hold. Through portfolios, we hold memories of the past so we can plan for the future and "be" in the present. By creating portfolios, we find meaning in our lives and work. In a research project with government workers, Borgen, Amundson, and Reuter (2004) explored the need to better understand personal skills and attributes in the changing labor market. The results indicated that participants were able to incorporate portfolio thinking as a way to see themselves more espansively. The result was a "tremendous boost to their self-confidence" and many "ideas of how they might be able to use their portfolios" in different contexts both within and outside of their current organization (Borget et al., 2004, pl. 58).
E-Portfolios (electronic portfolios) are not a phenomenon; somewhere off in the future; they are happening NOW, and we have an opportunity to shape their development in the school, home and workplace. With the power of e-portfolios, employers have new way to measure employee performance and determine suitability of applicants to meet hiring standards; educational institutions have a new way to mandate student accountability (Gelardin & Harryman, 2006).
The United States rates 14th in technology usage around the world. Job outsourcing and global competition is impacting the U.S. workforce. Counselors and educators have an opportunity to enhance employment opportunities for U.S. citizens, as well as to expand our outreach to the global workforce.
The use of portfolios and e-portfolios expands beyond the domain of career professionals to counselors, in general, because e-portfolios can be used for self-growth, as well as for career development. Since many e-portfolio platforms are free or low-cost, the use of e-portfolios is an equalizing delivery system, of special value to people with special needs, and to those who have mobility, time, and cost barriers. Since more families than schools have computers, families can support the personal and professional development of individuals in the family through portfolios and e-portfolios.
There are several recent indications that e-portfolios are a rapidly growing phenomena. "Using Technology in Career Development and Job Search" is among the top three areas of interest for Professional Development activities noted by NCDA members. In a 2004 National Career Development Association Survey of Professional Development Needs, 489 respondents cited this as a top activity preference. e-Portfolios can employ many technology applications that are useful in career development and job search, such as e-resumes, audio, blogs, and video.
A computer circuit consists of hardware and circuitry that links one device with another. Data is transferred from one computer to another via a cable that links connecting ports. Metaphorically, an e-portfolio is a virtual harbor, a refuge, a sanctuary that brings families, professional colleagues, communities, and world families together.
I chose as our symbol a porthole mirror to reflect back to us who we are and what we offer to the world. I invite you to add your comments and begin a conversation on portfolio and e-portfolio topics that interest you.
Dr. Sally Gelardin
Borgen, W.A., Amundson, N.E., & Reuter, J. (2004). Using portfooios to enhance career resiliences. Journal of Employment Counseling, 41, 50-59.
Gelardin, S. & Harryman, M. (2006). "E-Portfolios are replacing resumes. Are you ready?" American Counseling Association one-day institute and workshop. Montreal, Canada.