Demonstrating innovation capability through industry relevant digital portfolios
Aaron Down
Design Factory 

This project develops a student-centred portfolio assessment task for students who are required to articulate learning and demonstrate innovation capability from a diverse range of authentic learning experiences. It was embedded in Design Factory Melbourne’s Applied Innovation units and integrates both industry and academic perspectives to better understand the elements and attributes that are required from such professional portfolios. The project creates industry-ready graduates who have a strong professional brand, and are equipped with the technology literacy and communication literacy to articulate their capabilities and value to a range of graduate opportunities. 
The following resources provide instruction for a student project involving the curation and creation of an industry-based portfolio. All of these resources are available to access or download by Swinburne staff via Commons and include the following: 
•  Lesson Plan
These resources are also available on the Adobe Education Exchange!
Increasingly, graduates need to stand out from the crowd and demonstrate skills beyond traditional discipline skills. How do graduates demonstrate skills of the Future in critical thinking, creative problem solving, teamwork and collaboration, project management? How can graduates be equipped to showcase failures, learnings and their professional brand to prospective employers in an authentic and engaging way? How can we create portfolio artefacts that can communicate their value and expertise as individuals in the context of collaborative innovation DOING? How can we give insight into the process rather than just the outcome?  
The Design Factory Melbourne Applied Innovation Stream in the Master of Design is a new and innovative model where Applied Innovation units work in unison, where a dynamic learning plan guides authentic learning experiences. Throughout the four Applied Innovation units, students will participate in a range of authentic learning experiences in the form of design sprints, in-depth projects, workshops, hackathons, and internships to learn new skills, to collaborate and practice design innovation approaches. This is a new model for innovation in assessment – one where students can articulate and showcase their skills, attitudes, process, and outcomes of their studies in a way that targets industry expectations and standards.

The project looks at the development of a student-centred portfolio assessment task as part of Design Factory Melbourne’s Applied Innovation units, where students are required to articulate learning and demonstrate innovation capability, from a diverse range of authentic learning experiences. It aims to develop a more industry-appropriate and relevant assessment method which better connects the academic work required in the classroom with the relevant skills and capabilities required in industry. 
The project introduced a portfolio assessment using Adobe Portfolio into the unit and a framework for the different innovation capabilities that students in the field of innovation and creative problem solving need to have to succeed in industry. The framework provides students an opportunity to categorise key industry skills, and to provide a collection of work examples in tandem.  
The project also provided students with resources to help them build and arrange their Adobe Portfolio. A series of bespoke instructional videos were created to assist students. The first provided context and background to the capability’s framework, the second included more technical assistance in showing how to set up Adobe Portfolio and navigate the interface, and the third video shared a series of sample entries and Adobe Portfolio exemplars to inspire students.  

Emergent Outcomes
The portfolio assessment tasks required students to build an individual digital portfolio to demonstrate their capability and contributions across a range of highly desired industry skills. These capabilities and skill areas were co-created with Design Factory’s Industry Advisory Board and academic colleagues.  
The portfolio presented an Adobe Portfolio framework to accommodate the graduate capability themes (via Collections) and project examples (via Pages) that were relevant to student learning and innovation/design strategy work in industry:  
1.  Research & Discover – human-centred research and research rigour. 
2. Create & Innovate – design innovation practices and methods to collaborate, generate and explore.  
3. Develop & Deliver – develop detailed design solutions that provide value and methods for communication knowledge and design intent. 
4. Collaborate & Lead – interdisciplinary collaboration approaches, creating conditions for innovation, design leadership, coaching and facilitation.  
Students then needed to build a series of project examples, artefacts, case studies, thought pieces and evidence to support their online portfolio and capability statements in each of the four themes areas. 
Students built and published Adobe Portfolios that aimed to cover both these generic capabilities and skills, and the examples of project work as evidence – serving the diverse industry and academic audiences. All students presented above expected digital portfolios. Students demonstrated high levels of digital literacy – in the areas of technical literacy in successfully creating visual portfolios with a strong design and brand evident. Both critical literacy and information literacy was were less successful.  
The project aimed to create industry-ready graduates who have a strong professional brand, and are equipped with the technology literacy and communication literacy to articulate their capabilities and value to a range of graduate opportunities. 
It provided students with the opportunity to understand and learn the basics of Adobe Portfolio (of which 67% had not used the program previously), in order to increase confidence in these digital tools and allow students to select and use them to curate their portfolio submission. The portfolio task is was an opportunity to experiment with new ways individuals can demonstrate various innovation skills to industry. All students created dynamic and interesting portfolios – demonstrating a significant learning of the digital tool for majority of the cohort. 
The project created involved creating a selection of learning and teaching materials that targeted students in the areas of technology literacy and communication literacy. 
The project uncovered the importance of story-telling and narrative creation behind the design innovation work. High levels of critical literacy and reflective practice are required in order to then present a narrative and rationale that sits behind the work.  

This project allowed us to reflect and consider how the suite of Applied Innovation units work together and scaffold the much-needed critical literacy in our students throughout the course of the study.  
Greater levels of scaffolding are needed: 
Firstly, the first two units, the portfolio needs to be more prescriptive to allow first year students to understand the format and position their skills and professional capabilities in relation to design innovation. Secondly, it was difficult to encourage students to engage in reflective practice to inform the curation of their portfolio examples. Again, the portfolio assessment task in the first two units, can be adjusted to better accommodate entries and submissions from weekly project work and reflections for grades to encourage better quality outcomes.  
Requires a more tangible focus on professional skills and personal development: 
The technical literacy was incredibly high and tutorials were provided for students through online modules and recorded videos. This was a successful in allowing more time during classes to have conversations and mentoring moments with students on the experimentation, risk taking, critical thinking and the framing of experiences and failures for an industry audience. The ability to have these coaching conversations was limited due to COVID and remote teaching.
Low stake milestones encouraged early experimentation: 
The portfolio incorporated two milestones prior to the final submission, and these were effective in encouraging students to develop a strong identity and visual design of their portfolio. The first milestone was not graded for quality, but simply if students built their portfolio and aligned to the prescribed assessment structure. This allowed students to play with and experiment their branding and visuals – allowing their individual characters and personalities come through.  
The story is more important than anything: 
The biggest learning from the project is that students need a better way to tell the story. It does not matter if they have the technical literacy and digital fluency to use platforms and tools to showcase the outcome, if they cannot connect the process to industry needs. Students need more resources in this narrative creation.
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