Online portfolios for professional communicators

Learning Experience Design4 Comments

When your Google Search result is your #portfolio, the internet is your platform. #theinternetistheplatform


Ekaterina Tokareva and Lucinda Strahan teach Professional Communication Studio and ask their students to create a personal website as a portfolio.

The question we wanted to address:

How do third year students from an interdisciplinary media program articulate and showcase a clear and succinct professional narrative as graduates?

We designed assessments to guide students through this process, the portfolio was was the final outcome of this work.

Ekaterina set assignments and activities that guide people in establishing and managing a professional online identity from their websites. This approach to online portfolios takes a much more holistic view. The basic premise is that a Google search for a name is an online identity, and the works displayed in that search constitute a portfolio.


Professional Communication is a multidisciplinary program that gives students foundations in Media, Journalism, Public Relations and Advertising. Because of multi-disciplinary nature of the program, students develop very different notions of who they are professionally and they need to meet quite different industry expectations depending on their specialisation. There is no single definition of what a Professional Communication graduate is, so the ability to create your own narrative and present it digitally is very important.


Elements that helped students to create their narrative were: reflection (asking students to look back at their program and reflect upon what they have learnt), the project (asking students to showcase their skills), student-led  industry panels (prompting students to start developing professional networks and get better insight into industry’s expectations and demands).

We gave students freedom in choosing their own digital platform (most popular ones were wordpress, wix, foursquare). We provided guidelines for making a wise choice, and gave examples of platforms that met most of those guidelines.

Students submitted a prototype first on which they were given feedback, consultations were held throughout the semester to assist students with their folios.

We found that there was a need to talk more about tech literacy and emergent opportunities for digital self-representation. There was also a need to talk more about non-linear narrative creation. Students appear to be operating on different level of self-awareness and digital literacy, there is a need to develop teaching strategies to help them across these different levels. Critical reflection was key to helping students engage with the problem in a deep way and to develop their individual professional narrative. Critical reflection is a key skill for multi-disciplinary students who need to continuously, and individually consider one discipline with another.

Further reading

Online identity, workspaces and folios. A celebration of awareness

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5 years ago

Leigh, this is related to the talk we will be presenting to the Journalism students. I have an interest in Digital Literacy, institutions tend to favour “academic skills” overshadowing the importance of developing digital one. Last year, I came across an image that depicts the 8 elements of Digital Literacy: Cultural, Cognitive, Constructive, Communicative, Confident, Creative, Critical and Civic.


[…] An example of that being a teaching principle in the College is found in Ekaterina and Lucinda’s course Professional Communication Studio. […]


[…] concept of networked learning. Some of the Schools in DSC have taken to the idea that “A Google search result is your portfolio“. Some teachers are entering into discussions around the idea that by supporting students, […]