I am past the seven-year mark of my digital portfolio (you are reading it right now), and I would say that both personally and professionally, nothing has made more of an impact on my career or learning. If I would have known what this endeavour would have led to in both growth and opportunities before I even started, it would have been a no-brainer for me to start. The hard part is convincing others on why it is so powerful to create a blog as portfolio and stick with it.
One of my favourite quotes:
If you do this and stick with it consistently (2-3 times a week), it will make a tremendous difference in your learning.
So why a “blog” as a porfolio?
When I started to look at what was the best place to start a digital portfolio, we looked at two types of portfolios; a learning portfolio and a showcase portfolio. Here is the easiest way to differentiate the two in terms of student learning:
Learning portfolio – If a student were to take a video of them reading in four consecutive months, you would see all readings over time to see development and growth.
Showcase portfolio -If a student were to take a video of them reading in four consecutive months, they would pick the best one from the four samples.
What is beautiful in using a blog as a portfolio is that you do not have to choose; you can do both. (For more information on blogging as portfolio, please feel free to look through these links.)
Trying to think what my porfolio has “shown” over the last seven years, here are four things that stick out.
Show my work – This is something that is important to me. When I first started this portfolio I had a few blog posts, and an “about me” page. Now if you look under “presentation resources“, you can see things that I have created and collected over time. Not only do I create these pages as references for others, but references for myself.
Show my thinking – A lot of times when I share ideas, I am blogging to learn, not to share learning. There is a difference. Part of the reasoning why I do this is to see my own evolution of thought over time. I know for example, at one point I wrote about how “technology is just a tool”, and later on writing that “technology is not just a tool”. As I took time to reflect, my learning shift, and hopefully will continue to grow and develop.
Show my influences – When I wrote my book, “The Innovator’s Mindset“, the process was accelerated because I did not just have access to my own learning and words, but the ideas and thoughts of others. When I find a good article, video, or quote from a book, I blog about it so that I can share my thinking at the time, but so that I can also find it later. Google “George Couros Barry Schwartz“. What you will find (probably) is all of the blog posts that I have written that I have tagged with the word “Barry Schwartz” over the last seven years. This portfolio has also become a library for me over time and I use it with that thought in mind.
Show my past while helping me understand my future This is a little bit harder to understand. When I first started to share on this blog, I shared a lot on the topic of “Social Media for Administrators“. I did not really know that I had an interest in the topic until I looked back on how much I wrote about it. My book, “The Innovator’s Mindset“, was born in this space as an idea, and eventually became something more. This space has helped me find my interests through the process, which eventually led to a product. What is key here is that I wrote about what I was interested in, not what I thought would get clicks. That being said, if you are passionate about what you write, that passion will bring people in eventually. Start with your own voice, and eventually, people will want to hear it.
As I have said, if I would have known what this could have been, there would have been zero reluctance to start in the first place. My hope is that just by sharing this, that I inspire others to find their voice through the process. The possibilities are endless if you start. If you don’t, you will for sure get the same return of what you put in.