The first group of students to complete their degree with the new ePortfolio requirement as their capstone experience graduated at the end of this semester. Nine students were among the group of graduates this fall to finish with their ePortfolio as their capstone requirement.
The ePortfolio is the new Capstone project designed to replace the End of Program Examination required by the Master of Science in Library Science or Information Science program. The ePortfolio was officially introduced in Fall 2019, and students who enrolled and took their first course in Fall 2019 and subsequent semesters are required to complete the ePortfolio as their Capstone.
Students begin work on their ePortfolio using Foliotek in the first semester of study and continue to work and expand on it throughout their time in the program, using the assessment criteria and rubric established by the faculty as a guide. At the end of the students’ program, faculty will evaluate the portfolio as evidence of the student’s readiness to graduate.
“The ePortfolio is a great way for students to track their professional growth and learning over time," said Dr. Tricia Kuon, Senior Lecturer and Chair of the Capstone Committee. “It is creative and allows students to express themselves both in writing and visually which is key in today's world. Because it is something the students work on over time, the anxiety and pressure is hopefully much less than with the examination,” she added.
Sung Lim, who just graduated with an M.S. in Information Science with a concentration in Information Systems says he is satisfied with his ePortfolio experience.
“I like how the ePortfolio requires me to gather all of my assignments and group work in one place under the list of ALA’s requirements,” said Lim. “It truly demonstrated that I made a lot of effort to become a good librarian staff, and personally I found this website much more helpful to get a job than writing a long thesis to graduate,” he said.
Arron Clay, an M.S in Library Science graduate says, “I actually prefer the ePortfolio over any type of testing for my degree.”
In addition to meeting the American Library Association accreditation requirements, the ePortfolio is also an opportunity for students to showcase their work through curricular and non-curricular learning experiences. The ePortfolio can be a useful tool for students, particularly during their job search.
“Many jobs that I applied asked for a personal website that I have (it was an optional choice though), and I am sure my ePortfolio website helped me to stand out among applicants,” said Lim.
As with any new project or program, there have been some challenges in introducing this new requirement. “The process of developing the ePortfolio Capstone project and using a new software system with students has not been without growing pains,” said Dr. Kuon.
Arron Clay says he thinks there needs to be more emphasis on the importance of the ePortfolio and the workload associated with it.
Steven Scire, who graduated with a Master's in Library Science with a concentration in Archival Studies and Imaging Technology says his overall experience was mostly good but had a few challenges along the way. “Being in the first group to go through this there was some confusion through different stages of the process,” he admits.
The DIS Capstone Committee continues to improve the ePortfolio process for students. UNT LISSA will host a virtual ePortfolio event with Dr. Kuon in the Spring semester to help answer questions and provide additional information for students about the ePortfolio.
“I am utterly impressed with the work the students are doing and I believe that this project will be something they can continue using and referring to in the future,” said Dr. Kuon.
As the first group of students to graduate under the ePortfolio requirement, what’s some advice these recent graduates have for other students who are completing their ePortfolio?
“I would recommend collecting all previous assignment in folders, which their names represent semester and class (such as Fall2020_INFO5400). I also recommend using the UNT Professional Photo Day to take a professional photo to upload,” said Sung.
Steven Scire’s advice to students is to “trust the process and don’t over think what instructions. In the moment it can seem like it is really hard and maybe even impossible, but you can do it.”