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Random Thoughts on Instructional Design

Portfolios for Teaching, Learning, and Presentation – Part 1

Designing Professional Portfolios

Imagine trying to condense a summary of your abilities, educational background, and professional experience onto a typed page. Imagine a prospective employer using it to compare your abilities with those of other job seekers. You know that this type of conventional resume inadequately represents your potential as a candidate for the job. In today’s competitive job market, students seeking employment in the design and often teaching fields need more than a paper or electronic resume.

A digital/multimedia professional portfolio exhibits an individuals professional skill, growth, and achievement more effectively than an old-fashioned resume.

This site will help you plan, organize, and develop a digital/ multimedia portfolio which will showcase your experience/background and successfully propel you into the instructional design and/or education fields.

A digital portfolio goes beyond a conventional resume. A portfolio is a visual representation of your finest work. It provides visual evidence of your abilities, achievements, and interests. It demonstrates your uniqueness and sets you apart from others competing in the job market. More importantly, a portfolio tells the story of the road you’ve traveled and the direction in which you are heading.

Although portfolios can be created in a number of ways, this tutorial will focus on the development of digital portfolios.

Portfolio Planning

Begin the portfolio development process by planning your strategy. Effective planning in the early stages of development will let you customize the portfolio for a specific job or firm. It will help you collect and organize relevant materials. Planning at the beginning will reduce work and frustration in later stages of assembling a presentation portfolio.

Remember that it is essential to tailor your portfolio to your audience and purpose. Reviewers in business, industry and education will all examine your portfolio differently. Using an identical portfolio will not help you achieve the appropriate results.


There are 2 main types of portfolios:

  • A working portfolio is a complete collection of your work. It is an accumulation – or holding area – for items you may need when you create a presentation portfolio.You build a working portfolio gradually, adding to it as you produce designs and projects in your academic program or career. It can include planning materials, student-made artifacts, video and audiotapes, multimedia projects, etc.
  • A presentation portfolio is a selectively edited display of your abilities and best efforts to impress a particular audience. Its purpose is to demonstrate that your skills meet and/or exceed the needs of that target audience.You build a presentation portfolio from the evidence of your skills that you have previously stored in your working portfolio. Because a presentation portfolio is customized for a specific audience (such as a potential employer) and purpose (a particular job opening), you will create many different presentation portfolios during your career.


Regardless of the type or purpose, most presentation portfolios:

  • Engaging, successfully capturing a reviewer’s interest from the start and motivating that person to want to examine the portfolio completely.
  • Scannable in 10 minutes or less.
  • Self-guided and self-contained.
  • Varied in format, giving the reviewer options (written text, visuals, animation, audio, etc.).
  • Effectively showcases your best work, your “WOWS”.
  • Customized to a specific purpose, job, or firm.

Develop A Strategy before Starting

Answering the questions listed under each of the bullets will help you plan your portfolio strategy:

Identify the purpose of the portfolio

  • Will you use it for an employment interview?
  • Is it the culminating activity for a degree or certificate?
  • Will it be part of a graduate school or post-graduate study admission packet?
  • Will you use it to initiate a career change?
  • Will you use it for promotion or job expansion?

Identify the audience

  • Who are they
  • What do they do? How do they do it?
  • What are they likely to learn about you?

Identify relevant characteristics

  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Which of your strengths and skills do you want to showcase?
  • What are the best ways to highlight your skills?

Develop a Reflection Statements

Self Reflection

Self-reflection may seem out of place in a portfolio, but it can make a difference in how vividly you communicate your knowledge, skills, and personality. Self-reflection helps portfolio reviewers get to know the real, essential, unique YOU.

In a portfolio, self-reflection typically appears in 2 different forms: comments on the artifacts you include in the portfolio and a statement of your career goals and objectives (sometimes called a mission statement).

Descriptive/analytical comments on artifacts let others know how you think about your work. They also convey your ability to share knowledge with others.

Read this reflective statement.

“I included this particular lesson plan because it is an example of an evaluation tool used at the end of the term and demonstrates my commitment to authentic assessment. This philosophy is an important part of constructivist learning theory, which guides much of my instructional strategy.”

This statement briefly explains both the immediate purpose of the artifact and its “place” in the larger context of curricular goals. The teacher lets us know she didn’t just stumble onto a neat project but is knowledgeable about learning theory and able to translate theory into practice. Her self-awareness suggests that she will be able to generate other such meaningful projects in the future.

Professional Goals and Objectives

Providing a reflective statement of your career goals and objectives communicates your interest in your work or educational discipline, your “fit” with your profession or discipline, plus relevant personal characteristics, such as your seriousness and your enthusiasm.

The statement should be short, about 3 sentences, and should focus on the next 3-5 years of your career. You can include specifics about job type and/or industry as appropriate.

In addition to providing reviewers with a way to get to know you better, the personal career statement can be a self-help tool, as well. Writing it will help you think about who you are and what is important to you. It will help you crystallize your vision of who you are and where you want to go.

For help in writing a personal career statement, first answer the following questions about yourself:

  • Describe yourself using 10 adjectives and no explanation.
  • What parts of your personality or skills do you like the best?
  • What would you like to change about yourself?
  • What is at least one talent or gift you believe you have?
  • What makes you happy

Now think about your professional and career goals and compare that to your personal development goals.

  • Do they complement one another?
  • Are there potential conflicts?
  • What are those?
  • Any ideas for balancing these two roles?
  • What is your ultimate professional goal?

All of the information above is simply there to help you to clarify your life, identify your purpose, and express your deepest values and aspirations. Take this information and synthesize it into 3, 4, or 5 points. That is the foundation of your mission statement.

Keep in mind that your mission statement should be limited to 3 sentences and no more than 30 words. Begin your statement with the words, “My personal career mission is . .” and finish with qualifying words and phrases to describe your mission.

Sample Career/Mission Statements

Employers expect a portfolio to include a reflective statement of your career goals ans objectives that communicates your interest in your work, your “fit” with your profession, plus relevant personal characteristics, such as your seriousness ans your enthusiasm. The statement should be short, about 3 sentences, and should focus on the next 3-5 years of your career.

In addition to providing reviewers with a way to get to know you better, the personal career statement can be a self-help tool as well. Writing it will help you think about who you are ans what is important to you. It will also help you crystallize your vision of who you are and where you want to go.

The following are samples of career/mission statements.

  • Instructional Designer: My chief goal as an Instructional Designer is to maximize the range and effectiveness of technology. I base my design work on careful analysis of users’ needs and levels of understanding. I strive to employ design in ways which will enhance/exploit the latent potential of technology to communicate with learners. I apply these Instructional Design values in the development of programs whether they will be used institutionally or independently, collaboratively or individually, as my work to date shows.
  • K-12 Teacher: My personal career mission is to master the leading Web software development tools and gain greater understanding of educational applications development.
  • Laboratory Technician: I am a talented Clinical Laboratory Technologist with experience in performing complex chemical, biological, hematological, immunologic, microscopic, and bacteriological tests, working within the scope of Laboratory policies ans procedures, contributing to positive outcomes ans meeting the vision and cultural expectations of the organization by exhibiting professional behavior and laboratory expertise.


To develop your portfolio, you will gather a representative collection of your work which best shows your skills, competencies, and talents. You should also include evidence of your professional accomplishments, educational achievements, and assessments made by professionals and in some cases instructors. In addition, you may want to identify personal goals or auxiliary areas of competency that enhance your value in the profession.

Together, these items are called artifacts. You should collect a wide variety of such materials in your working portfolio. Don’t save everything: collect only items which show you at your best. From this collection in your working portfolio you can customize a selection that meets the needs of your presentation portfolio.

Although there are no fixed rules regarding the classification of artifacts, it helps to divide them into categories. Typically, artifacts are divided into 4 categories.

Selecting Portfolio Artifacts

It is important to limit to no more than 10 the number of artifacts in your presentation portfolio. Reviewers generally spend about 5 to 7 minutes to scan a portfolio, so too many artifacts will hurt rather than help. Quality, rather than quantity, will lead the reviewer to explore the portfolio further.

When selecting artifacts from your working portfolio, aim for variety. Avoid redundancy. For example, do not include multiple images demonstrating your Captivate skills or several of the same types of lesson plans. Also try to vary artifacts by type, choosing a few examples from each of the following artifact categories.

  • Artifacts – Documents produced during the normal course work of a program or gained through life experience.
    • Example: instructional program prototypes, project storyboards, or a website design.
  • Productions -Documents about events in your typical work environment.
    • Example: a QuickTime video of you teaching a lesson, or presentation at professional association displaying your mastery of tools.
  • Reproductions – Documents prepared especially for your portfolio.
    • Example: personal career goal (mission) statements of beliefs about your profession, industry, projections, and career plans.
  • Attestations – Documents about your work prepared by someone else.
    • Example: observations from administrators, feedback forms from instructors, or letters of appreciation from clients.

General Artifacts

Artifacts are documents produced in your high school and college courses or gained through general life experience. Remember, your selection of final artifacts for your presentation portfolio should be tailored to the job you want or the company you want to work for.

The following are lists of some of the artifacts that we suggest you collect.

Instructional Designer

  • Multimedia products developed
  • Blogs and Wikis
  • Planning documents
  • Instructional web sites
  • Needs assessments and analysis

K-12 Teacher

  • Unit/lesson plans
  • Assessment/test tools
  • Performance Improvement Plans
  • Staff development projects
  • Internet/Intranet activities

Medical Laboratory Technician

  • Certifications
  • Presentations
  • Research
  • Reports
  • Procedure guidelines


Attestations are documents about your work prepared by someone else. A sample of the type of artifacts that would be include in your presentation portfolio are provided below.

  • Letters of gratitude or recognition
  • Licenses or transcripts
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Performance evaluations
  • Evidence of professional development hours accrued
  • Diplomas or certifications

Note: Employers expect a candidate to maintain professional affiliations and continuous professional development. Your professional development statement should reflect the efforts you take to network and remain informed professionally.


Productions are documents prepared especially for your portfolio. Examples: personal career goal (mission) statements of beliefs about your profession, industry, or a solution to a target industry problem.The following is a list of productions you should include in your presentation portfolio.

  • Traditional resume
  • Reflective evaluations
  • List of major accomplishments
  • List of goals and objectives
  • Personal Mission Statement
  • Career Goals and Objectives
  • Membership & affiliations
  • List of skill competencies

Collecting Portfolio Artifacts

Note: Maintaining connections t the community through community service within your discipline as well as without demonstrates to a potential employer that your interest in the work is beyond just wanting a job and a paycheck. Some of the items that you may want to include in this section are:

  • Listing of community involvement outside of the program or you current employment
  • Involvement in professional organizations
  • Volunteer projects

Early in your career you should start collecting samples and materials that reflect your knowledge, skills, and accomplishments. These items are called artifacts. Don’t save everything! Collect only the highest quality material and then store it properly in your working portfolio for safety and easy retrieval. You will not use all of the artifacts you collect. In fact, you should include no more than 10 artifacts in a presentation portfolio. However, it is important to keep more materials accessible so that you can choose from them to customize a presentation portfolio successfully.

The following list of the kinds of artifacts you might include. (Remember that in addition to artifacts all presentation portfolios will also include your resume, letters of recommendation, references, professional memberships and affiliations, a statement of your career objective or goals.)

  • Sample Artifacts for an Instructional Designer
  • Multimedia projects developed
  • Articles
  • Workshops & training sessions conducted
  • Planning documents
  • Letters of accommodation
  • Presentations
  • Tutorials
  • Websites, blogs, podcasts
  • Work with volunteer associations and professional organization
  • Sample Artifact K-12 Teacher
  • Model units, instructional plans
  • Written material such as handouts created for workshops
  • Blogs & websites
  • Curriculum guides (even if co-authored)
  • Letters from administrators, students, parents

Storing Artifacts

Storing your files properly will keep them safe and make them easy to retrieve when you are putting together you presentation portfolio.

Here are some hints on storing artifacts.

  • Keep digital files on a secure medium such as the hard drive on your personal computer or in your home directory on the university file server.
  • Designate an external disk or a CD-RW as a back up in case your original files are lost or damaged.
  • Digitize hard copies of your artifacts.
  • Collect screen captures of web based materials
  • Use a scanner to convert pictures to digital images.
  • Convert written material to Adobe Acrobat (PDF) files.
  • Digitize video segments.
  • Develop and store sound files (Audacity is a simple free tool that can be used for this activity).

Organizing the Portfolio

A basic digital presentation portfolio contains the following five sections. Organize your portfolio accordingly:

  • Main Menu – the main menu takes the place of a table of contents in a traditional portfolio. It consists of graphic and/or text that tells the viewer how to navigate the portfolio.
  • Resume – A conventional resume should be included. Convert your resume to a PDF (Portable Document Format) or text (RTF or TXT). You should also provide an introductory paragraph with the resume link that explains briefly why you are interested in the position. The narrative should also include positive statements about your experience and skills, as well as any special qualifications you may have. It is not necessary or advisable to include details in this section; those are more appropriately covered in a personal interview. It should, however, contain enough information that a prospective employer would want to talk to you.
  • Artifacts – This section will contain the bulk of information. It includes your mission statement, artifacts, and reflective evaluation statements. The items in the portfolio section do not need to be sorted in chronological order. Rather, group them by the artifact or skill type.
  • References – This section should contain excerpts (not the full documents) of letters of recommendation or gratitude from supervisors, instructors, peer, or clients.
  • Contact Information – Include your name, address, telephone number (if your portfolio is web-based you may not want to include address and phone number) , primary e-mail, and homepage address.

Portfolio Checklist

This checklist is designed to assist you when either creating or evaluating your portfolio. It may be used ex post facto to identify weaknesses and strengths of a completed portfolio and to amend the portfolio accordingly before submitting it for assessment, or to an employer. It may also be used as a formative assessment tool when initially selecting materials that will eventually constitute the final document. In any case it is important to remember that a portfolio must always remain dynamic.

Question Yes No Possibly
1. Does this material add value to the portfolio?
2. Will this information be interpreted as intended?
3. Have on significant items been included?
4. Will the format be easily understood by another person?
5. Is the presentation format appropriate for the materials?
6. Are there weak statements that must be eliminated?
7. Will the portfolio serve as a mirror image of the author?
8. Are competency statements consistent with course objectives or employer skill requirements?
9. Do competency statements reflect degrees of proficiency?
10. Are artifacts restricted to essential elements that demonstrate proficiently for a specific field/position?
11. Are only major artifacts provided?
12. Have materials been properly identified within the portfolio?
13. Are supporting document/samples identifiable and retrievable?
14. Has redundant information been eliminated?
15. Are statements of connectivity apropos?
16. Has editing been used to reduce unnecessary verbiage?
17. Has spelling and grammar been checked throughout the portfolio?
18. Has clear navigation structure been included?
19. Has a credits and contact page been included?
20. Do the color scheme and graphics reflect the culture of the target audience?
21. Have headers and footers been used where beneficial?
22. Has material not germane to assignment/position been eliminated?
23. Have materials been checked for weaknesses and inaccuracies?
24. Is the resume / vita (vitae) prepared and included?
25. Is the portfolio an ethical representation of the author?

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This entry was posted on June 20, 2010 by in Tools and tagged , , , .

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