Annual Review 2023-2024 Megan Mize: Director, ePortfolios and Digital Initiatives

Welcome to My Annual Review!

This year, I’ve chosen a fresh approach for my annual review by creating a concise one-page portfolio. Here, I reflect on the achievements and progress made by the ePortfolio and Digital Initiatives team at Old Dominion University during the 2023-2024 academic year. Additionally, I share my personal experiences as the Director, highlighting our successes, addressing the challenges we faced, and outlining our next steps for continued growth and innovation.

Video Discussion

To provide a more personal touch, I've included a video in which I further discuss our team's journey over the past year.

Accomplishments and Reflections

This year, I am particularly proud of supporting new initiatives and programs, such as the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), Monarch Humanities Internship Academy, the Recreational Therapy ePortfolio implementation, and the Occupational Therapy ePortfolio implementation.

The Summer 2024 QEP cohort and facilitators on the final day of the workshop series.

One notable achievement was the creation of the 3MeP with gamified elements for the Cyber LeADERS program, which has potential applications in other contexts. Modeled on the 3MT, we guided students through a rapid digital showcase, in which they shared their portfolios, received feedback from the audience, and competed for prizes for the most compelling portfolios. We will be running a similar experience for next year's ODU Writing Conference.

Our team has made significant strides, including establishing and facilitating the ODU ePortfolio Task Force (a report of Year 1's efforts is available here) and enhancing the Communication department's engagement by integrating eP4. Additionally, we supported the Tutoring Task Force's AI and Tutors series, promoting innovative educational practices.

We improved our communication and visibility of initiatives through various university-level events such as the ODU Writing Council Roundtable (which received particular commendation in an external review), Career Pathways, and the QEP workshop series. These efforts have strengthened our presence and impact within the university.

Collaboration has been a cornerstone of our success. We worked closely with faculty, department chairs, and administrators to integrate ePortfolios within their curricula and initiatives. Notable collaborations included efforts with Tim Anderson, Chair of Communication, and Shanda Jenkins, Director Of Faculty Diversity & Retention.

Our data reflects positive outcomes, with increased student engagement and participation in ePortfolio-related activities. This growth is evidenced by the rising number of participants in programs such as the ePortfolio Competition (76 entries in Fall, 89 in Spring), class visits, and workshops. We also saw increased faculty engagement through department and institutional-level faculty development programs, with collaborative funding supporting significant participation: eP4 had 10 participants, and the QEP workshops saw two cohorts of 24, totaling 48 participants.

Relation to Strategic Plan

Our team has made significant contributions to several goals outlined in the Strategic Plan. In alignment with Goal 1.a (Relevant Academic Programs), we supported new and ongoing initiatives such as the Communication, Occupational Therapy Doctorate, and Recreational Therapy implementations, emphasizing career preparation through coursework. We also played a pivotal role in the early development of the Monarch Humanities Internship Academy by collaborating on the design of the faculty development workshop series, project site, position descriptions, and required ePortfolio guidelines.

For Goal 2.b (Experiential Learning), we aided faculty in incorporating experiential learning into their curricula through ePortfolios, notably via the eP4 and Pursue Truth (QEP) workshop series. Additionally, we provided resources to incentivize faculty participation in hands-on learning approaches, enhancing the experiential learning landscape at ODU.

Under Goal 3.d (Inclusive Practices), we expanded WCOnline access to additional peer teams, ensuring the training and maintenance of SDA status and shared funding. This effort has bolstered the consistency and quality of student support services, fostering an inclusive educational environment.

Looking ahead, we see potential for deeper involvement in specific Strategic Plan projects. For Goal 1.a, we aim to integrate ePortfolios into undergraduate orientation programming. This early integration would help students establish a solid foundation for their academic journey at ODU. Regarding Goals 2.a and 2.b, we believe ePortfolios, as a high-impact practice, can further support experiential learning. By involving ePortfolios in faculty recruitment, evaluation, and retention efforts, we can enhance the visibility and value of this pedagogical strategy. Finally, in line with Goal 3.b (Implementing Inclusive Teaching Practices), we recognize that ePortfolios can foster inclusivity by providing students with a customizable platform to showcase their diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives.

Obstacles and Constraints

While we navigated through the year with relative smoothness, we did experience a few challenges.

The ePortfolio Studio in the Perry Library Learning Commons has hosted several events and continues to be an active tutoring space.

Primarily, funding issues and the absence of a dedicated fiscal technician, coupled with unclear budgetary guidelines, strained our operational efficiency. Furthermore, hiring student workers proved challenging due to the oversight of grant funding by a newly established department still acclimating to its responsibilities.

Despite our significant impact on student and faculty engagement with digital technologies, as evidenced by the hundreds of students who engage with portfolios annually, and our recognized role as the digital initiatives team, we often found ourselves excluded from administrative conversations and opportunities outside of ASIS with broad implications for the institution. For instance, we might have productively been included in the Salesforce conference and discussions regarding the implementation of the new AI bot.

It's worth noting that, over the years, the other Directors within our department have been included in such high-level discussions. Given our substantial reach and expertise in digital initiatives, beyond our tentpole work of ePortfolio support, our team's inclusion in these discussions would be not only appropriate but also beneficial. Our unique perspectives and experiences with supporting both faculty and students with digital technology and active learning, as well as the logistics of arranging such support, could contribute valuable insights to institutional strategies, ultimately enhancing the effectiveness of initiatives across the board.

Moreover, while we observed a departmental shift towards advising-centered discussions, it's essential to recognize that our core focus lies in faculty development, tutoring, and instructional design. As such, this shift left us, at times, somewhat sidelined in broader departmental conversations.

Addressing these challenges and increasing the visibility of our team as experts within ODU's administrative structure will be crucial for our continued success and integration into broader institutional initiatives.

I should point out the button to the left is from the live demonstrations of the Queer History VR experience we spent the past year collaborating with with Professor Cathleen Rhodes to produce, rather than a particular call to action following my discussion of constraints.

Goals for the Upcoming Year

Monarch Humanities Internship Academy

One aspect we're particularly excited about for the upcoming year is our involvement with the Monarch Humanities Internship Academy. The convergence of critical thinking, information fluency (as part of the Quality Enhancement Plan), and work-based learning aligns seamlessly with our team's mission. Witnessing these elements reflected in student portfolios promises to be both gratifying and impactful. To ensure the success of this initiative, we have identified two Graduate Assistants to provide crucial support for the grant. Additionally, we recognize the importance of assessment in evaluating the impact of work-based learning experiences in ePortfolios. We will seek support from the Assessment department to gain insights into trends in students' experiences, allowing us to continually refine and improve our approach.

Portfolio Platform Procurement Process

Another significant goal for the upcoming year is to enhance our portfolio platform options. This involves increasing the effectiveness and usability of our portfolio platforms. To achieve this, we aim to secure a budget allocation dedicated to this initiative. Furthermore, we will establish a dedicated committee to oversee the procurement process, ensuring a thorough evaluation and selection of the most suitable platform. This strategic approach will enable us to provide our students and faculty with the best possible tools to showcase their work and achievements effectively.

Expanding Existing Implementations

We are also focused on expanding our existing implementations, particularly within the Communication department. COMM 101R will soon require ePortfolios in all sections within two years, with the first rollout planned for online courses this coming year. Subsequently, we will extend this initiative to in-person courses the following year. This expansion will not only enhance student learning and engagement but also solidify the importance of ePortfolios as an integral part of the academic experience at Old Dominion University.

Conclusion: Reflecting on Personal Contributions

As I conclude another impactful year, I'm proud to have continued my role as co-chair of AAEEBL's International Task Force on ePortfolios and Digital Ethics. Central to this position has been leading our national research project, "Mapping ePortfolio Labor in North American Higher Education Institutions." Having completed the data collection stage, we are now actively analyzing the data and drafting a report to share with the ePortfolio community. Additionally, I've been deeply involved in efforts to compose a comprehensive resource on the potential use of AI to enhance the ePortfolio composition process. I also facilitated dialogue and collaboration among platform providers through a webinar hosted by AAEEBL, which can be viewed at this link.

Personally, I've observed a significant increase in individuals seeking insights and guidance on roles similar to mine, underscoring the growing recognition of the changing roles within higher education, as more researchers and practitioners move into administrative lines. I've had the privilege of sharing my expertise and experiences through various platforms, including guest speaking engagements at the University of Arizona and an appearance on the Monarch LEADS Podcast.

For the second year in a row, I have served as the guest speaker for University of Richmond's QEP faculty development efforts in relation to integrative learning and metacognition. This work has been a productive reminder of the unique nature of our own program.

Internally at Old Dominion University, I have likewise had opportunities to share my expertise more expansively. For instance, I served as the outside reader for a doctoral candidate's dissertation project (successfully concluded this year), regarding the role of reflection in career preparedness.

I helped in the conception and design of the AI: FYI series organized by members of the Tutoring Task Force. I also served as a panel speaker for the series.

Furthermore, my participation in the QEP workshop series, both as a speaker and facilitator, has amplified our team's reach and supported the QEP's objectives. I will be working with the QEP Director, Remica Bingham-Risher to revise the long-form workshop series this summer. Such efforts are useful both to the institution at large and our team in particular, as from these workshops, we have converted new courses, programs, and departments to ePortfolio use.

In another significant project, I collaborated with ODU Global Learning and COMM to support the 'LGBTQ+ Organizational Culture in the Pacific Northwest' Study Away course to Seattle, piloting a unique communal and collaborative approach to ePortfolio composition. The resulting portfolio, co-created by facilitators and students, is available here.

A screenshot from the landing page of the collaborative ePortfolio project for the Study Away course.

As part of my support for the Monarch Humanities Internship Academy, I am currently overseeing the Graduate Assistant responsible for building their portfolio site (available at this link) and consulting with the faculty Directors of the Academy to facilitate their administration and design of faculty development and student support efforts.

Additionally, I've had the opportunity to present at conferences such as OLC and will be presenting at upcoming events like Computers and Writing. Furthermore, I'm eagerly anticipating a webinar where my co-authors and I will delve into insights from our recently published article on high-impact practices and third spaces in ePortfolios in a special edition of the journal, Across the Disciplines. The article is available at this link. I am currently co-editing a special edition of AEPR, which will focus on digital ethics and ePortfolio practice.

These experiences have not only enriched my professional journey but also reinforced my commitment to advancing ePortfolios and digital initiatives in higher education, both at Old Dominion University and for the broader community of educators.