Media and Communication
A scaffolded approach to portfolio creation in the Bachelor of Media and Communication using Adobe Portfolio for graduate employability 
Joanna McIntyre and Peter Marcato

This cross-disciplinary pilot project utilises Adobe Portfolio to facilitate Media and Communication students’ creation of effective portfolios that collate and showcase their relevant work. Within two required first-year core units, students will develop digital literacies as they begin building a portfolio that they can use to highlight their skills and competencies to potential employers. As a pilot, this initial stage of the project will provide the foundations for establishing a scaffolded approach to learning in this area, ultimately ensuring students have ongoing support and incentive to continue building portfolios throughout second and third year and graduate with a dynamic portfolio.
Problem
For many years the Department of Media and Communication has intended to facilitate students creating a portfolio of their work over the three years of their degree. This is a key selling point of the degree, as a robust online portfolio is considered vital to graduate employability in the media and communications industries. Students were to initially establish this portfolio in the first-year unit Media Content Creation, but until now there was no meaningful follow-up across other units thereafter, meaning that only the most committed of students kept it up-to date-as they progressed in their studies. Despite the importance of a portfolio to job-ready graduates, there was no oversight of the creation of a portfolio or its quality (apart from a check that the portfolio had been created), nor was there much context provided for the students as to why it was being created or how it could be used to showcase their skills to potential employers.
Overview
Our project is a pilot designed as the first phase of an initiative that will be implemented Department-wide over the next two years. This pilot was based on two foundational units that all Bachelor Media and Communication students must undertake in their first year: Media Content Creation and Introduction to Media Studies. A key component of this project was to introduce assessment tasks in each of these units that must be submitted via Adobe Portfolio, thus ensuring that all students in the Department set up an online portfolio using Adobe portfolio and start populating it within their first year of study.
The other vital element of this project’s design was to provide students with corresponding resources to help them begin building their portfolios. To this end, we created three instructional videos that clarify for students why and how they should establish an Adobe Portfolio: the first gives context to and explains the reasons for creating an online portfolio; the second provides a ‘how to’ guide for setting up an Adobe Portfolio (which is linked to additional resources with which to practise); the third explains how to fine-tune their Adobe Portfolio and use it establish a professional digital ‘brand’ that will make them stand out to potential employers.
To make these purpose-built resources easy for students to access and use, we created a Canvas module (the project’s sharable output) that houses these instructional videos as well as other related resources. This module can be easily embedded in any unit’s Canvas site to give students access to resources that will enable them to effectively setup and/or populate their Adobe Portfolio – this externalised format means any unit with a portfolio-appropriate assignment can help facilitate students building their portfolio without having to change or add to the unit’s existing content.

Outcomes
In contrast to previous iterations of these two large foundational units, the implementation of this project meant that students received consistent support and encouragement from lecturers and tutors regarding the creation of portfolios throughout the semester. Almost 400 students successfully created an Adobe Portfolio (i.e. all students across the two units who submitted the relevant assessment items), and the vast majority of these used the purpose-built resources to help them do so. There were no reports of students having issues preparing their portfolios, and they all achieved at least the minimum requirement of establishing and beginning to populate an Adobe Portfolio – with many of them creating slick and visually-engaging products. The ability for their portfolio to be password protected assisted students who uncomfortable with revealing their portfolio publicly. 
The success of the pilot stage of this project is further evidenced in the future plans it has made possible. This initiative will continue in Semester Two, and the set of portfolio-building resources we created will be further bolstered with the inclusion of content from our grant co-recipients Vida Voncina’s and Janice Jackson’s units, which have a specific focus on professional purpose and graduate careers. 
We will also begin working with our colleagues in the Department of Media and Communication to initiate the project’s next stages. Phase Two also involves every unit in the Department of Media and Communication with at least one existing portfolio-appropriate assignment including the Canvas module we created in their Canvas sites. The lecturers and tutors in these units will thus be able to make students aware which assignment/s are relevant to include in their Adobe Portfolio and that resources have been provided to help them continue to effectively populate it. 

Later stages of the project include drawing on the expertise of colleagues in our department to create discipline-specific videos (and additional resources) that relate to the creation of portfolios that are relevant to particular employment sectors within the media and communications industries. These new resources will be made available to students via the Canvas module. Long term, the intention of this project is to scaffold portfolio-building resources, assignments, and support across the three years of the degree as students build their skill base along with a content-rich Adobe Portfolio. 
Digital Literacies
This project utilised Adobe Portfolio to help set first-year students on their path to becoming fluent in digital literacies. It had a demonstrable positive impacts on students’ development in the three key areas of digital literacy: information literacy, technological literacy, and critical literacy. Working with Clare Dyson and the Media and Communication Department Chair, Therese Davis, we conducted surveys with the students in the two foundational units regarding their digital literacies – at the beginning and then again at the end of the semester. The surveys showed there was a marked increase in students’ understanding in all three areas of digital literacies after completing these units in Semester 1. 
At the end of the semester, students who reported having a ‘High’ level of confidence in relation to information literacy and technological literacies increased by 23.97% [Survey question: ‘I have a sophisticated use of technology to create artefacts and/or the ability to search, find and evaluate data’].

As well as students accessing and using the Canvas ‘how to’ guides and Adobe Portfolio to complete assignments, this project also emphasised critical literacy in regards to these assignments and graduate employability more broadly. In the purpose-built videos, and in lectures and tutorials, students were provided with deeper explanations as to why and how portfolios are important for showcasing work to potential employers, the benefits of establishing a distinctive professional digital ‘brand’, and how they might do so using Adobe Portfolio. At the end of the semester, students who reported that they perceived digital literacy to be ‘Very Important’ to their future career success increased by 21.93% [Survey question: ‘How important will digital literacy be for your success post-graduation’].

Learnings
This project has allowed us to reflect and improve on our teaching practice in a number of ways. Firstly, it demonstrated the effectiveness of providing online resources that can sit alongside existing curriculum within a unit without taking time in lectures or tutorials. The initial creation of a portfolio is quite a mechanical one, and students found the Canvas module easy to follow. There was discussion about the portfolio assignments in class, however, students created the basics for the portfolio outside of class time. This structure proved to empower students to access relevant information and guides for themselves in their own time and engage with them at their own pace.
Another related benefit to our teaching practice has come through the creation of an online ‘tool kit’ for students, which follows on from Denby Weller’s ‘Adobe Premiere Bootcamp’ project. This ‘tool kit’ of online resources can function as a ‘catch-up’ resource for students who do not have existing skills in the area or need to ‘refresh’ existing skills, as well as acting as supplementary curriculum that gives students extra assistance in using Adobe Portfolio at a sophisticated level.
Furthermore, with this project we ensured there were specific Media and Communication contexts evident in the examples we provided in the online resources, which helped students draw connections between their course and their future careers, making their learning in our units more personal and relevant. 

Resources
Canvas Module [Available to Swinburne staff only]
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