AAU Career

Learning portfolio – remember the forgotten

You need to hold on to the knowledge and skills you have acquired throughout your time at university. There are various ways to do this. One way is to create a learning portfolio, that is meant to enable you to both reflect on and remember what you have learned.

This way, you will always be able to go back and see what skills and competencies you have – an invaluable tool you can use, for instance, when you have to apply for jobs.

➡ We know it can be a lot - but it doesn't have to be complicated. And once you've started, it will be easier. You will thank yourself for it later on. Here, we will provide you some ideas about how to do it.

The learning portfolio helps you now and later

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    How will a portfolio help?

    Architects, graphic designers, writers, artists and other professions who can document their abilities through visual material have used the portfolio for many years in order to demonstrate, in a tangible manner, what they have thought, drawn and designed. And it is especially useful and with great value when the product is something that can be displayed.

    Perhaps the product of your studies is not as tangible or visual, however, the portfolio can be used in the same way anyhow. It can be your personal learning collection, and it does not have to be meant for others to see. Then it becomes your ’knowledge encyclopaedia’ which you can look at when you need to brush up on something from your courses.

    The portfolio is thus 2-sided:

    1. A kind of learning journal just for you
    2. A kind of learning story for others
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    Why should I make a learning portfolio?

    There are 2 reasons for creating a learning portfolio:

    1. To KNOW what you learn
    2. To SHOW, what you learn

    HOW you learn can also be demonstrated as a third element.

    The portfolio is thus a tool to help visualise your learning for both you as well as for others.

    ”What have we actually learned?” you might think at the end of a semester. Here, the learning portfolio can help you out.

    In principle, you can also bring the method outside the university setting and use the tool in your professional life and your continuous learning.

The personal portfolio for your own use: Helps you know your skills

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    How can I use the portfolio as a learning journal for my own use?

    Your learning portfolio is like a journal just for you.

    Here, you can write to yourself about:

    • What you have learned?
    • What you might like to try out someday
    • Things you still do not fully understand
    • Which questions you might be asking yourself in the learning process
    • Your own synopsis of theoretical connections
    • Arguments for and against the choice of different theories and methods in relation to a semester project or thesis

    The personal learning portfolio is a snapshot of your ”academic state of mind” at the given time.

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    Can I use it practically and in a larger context?

    Think about your personal learning portfolio as divided into multiple layers.

    Here you should reflect upon:

    • Specific knowledge from a course, an exam, or a project.
    • The semester, the year, or the programme as a whole. Here you are creating the red thread in your story. It is always easier to see the red thread later on, so make sure to re-visit previous portfolio reflections later in your programme.
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    Why should I make a personal learning portfolio?

    The personal learning portfolio has some fantastic advantages that can be useful both on a later semester and when you graduate and must start looking for a job.

    You will get to know more about:

    • You will have all your experiences in one place, so you only have to look once, when you are in doubt about something later on.
    • Your competencies – both personal and professional.
    • The ”academic work” and your learning- and working process.
    • Your own learning processes. Write down your reflections – for example, why you made that specific choice over another. Do not just write about the final product. This way you will always be able to remember what you learned and how you learned it.
    • Communicate your knowledge and skills. How will you present your ”product”? You decide! Can you explain the essence of a project in 3 lines? Can you write an article about your work? You will get more confident with your learning and competencies when you convert the message to another media.
    • What you wish to learn more about. When you update your portfolio, it is a great occasion for you to stop and think about this point.
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    What tool can I use for my personal portfolio?

    You can write and store your personal learning portfolio exactly where you wish to – for example:

    • Office 365
    • Google Docs
    • Evernote
    • OneNote
    • Dropbox
    • OneDrive
    • A text document on your computer
    • A notebook (one of those analogue ones, you know)
    • … let your imagination run wild!

    Tip: It might come in handy to use a tool that allows you to search for key words in your reflections.

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    What should I include in my personal portfolio?

    You can include exactly what you want to in your portfolio.

    It can be text, but it does not necessarily have to be.

    It could also be:

    • Photos
    • Notes/bullet points
    • Scribbles
    • Audio files that you have recorded
    • Videos
    • A TED-talk you find inspiring
    • … your imagination is the only limiting factor!

The presentation portfolio (the ”public” one) for others to see: Helps you display your skills

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    How can I use the portfolio as a story of learning for others?

    You can also make a learning story for others to see.

    Here, you should select the most essential parts and create your own narrative about YOUR subject and YOUR education.

    Do not tell about how it is like to study e.g. Medialogy in general, but base it on your own experience:

    • How YOU have studied the subjects
    • What YOU have learned from it
    • How YOU wish to apply it
    • How YOU see and understand relevant themes and issues out in the ”real world”

    The portfolio helps you SHOW, what you know.

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    How should my narrative be?

    You need to consider what you want to demonstrate with the portfolio when you show it to other people. What kind of ”narrative” should the reader see from what you show?

    You might compare it to a CV, that can include everything you ever did or a few specifically selected experiences that are relevant in the context it is made for.

    If, e.g., you would like a company to get an understanding of your experiences, you should select the relevant experiences and display them in a relevant manner – all of it based on your knowledge and research on the company.

    You will learn a lot from choosing specific relevant points because you relate your experiences, or ”products”, to a ”demand” they can help fill – for example the company’s need for specific competencies that you have.

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    What programme can I use for my presentation portfolio?

    LinkedIn is a really great tool for a portfolio of this kind. Here, you not only reflect on your own learning, you also make strategic reflections on how you can display your skills and competencies, who you want to notice you and which words you should use in order for them to notice you and your profile.

    Other platforms could be:

    • AAU Jobbank (and other job sites with personal profiles and online CV)
    • Blog
    • A website about you and your skills
    • A newspaper about you, where every article covers a specific competency or a project you have taken part in
    • An e-book about you
    • A podcast where you tell about yourself and your competencies
    • … your imagination is the only limiting factor!
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    What should I include in my presentation portfolio?

    You can include exactly what you want to in your portfolio.

    It can be text, but it does not necessarily have to be.

    It could also be:

    • Photos
    • Audio files that you have recorded
    • Videos
    • Evaluations by your group members or project collaboration partners
    • ”Products” you have made – e.g. websites, power point presentations, exhibitions, graphic designs etc.
    • … your imagination is the only limiting factor – but remember, the presentation portfolio should only consist of things you wish for people to see!

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