Professional Learning Portfolios…and questions

I recently enrolled in Jane Hart’s online workshop on Professional Learning Portfolios. What I was thinking about when I enrolled was that I wanted some ideas about an e-portfolio system to put in my website so that I could show samples to potential clients—i.e., a portfolio in the traditional sense of an outward-facing body of evidence that I can do what I say I can do.

There’s still a lot of value for me in doing this aspect of a portfolio, of course, but I’ve found even in the first few days of the PLP workshop discussions and suggested activity that my thinking has gone beyond that. The first thing I did was download the suggested WordPress theme for the portfolio and play around a bit with it (, but then I got stuck. So instead of continuing to work with a tool, I took a step backward and reread our workshop introduction and documents…and realized I needed to do some thinking and planning first. I can get too caught up in cool tools, so I went back to what helps me think best, mapping out ideas on paper with different color pens.

And I realized while doing this that probably the most important thing for me, before trying to organize materials, is to determine my goals. My learning goals will be tied to the new areas I want to do work in. But I have to figure those out first!

I know that they have something to do with helping people learn what’s “out there” in terms of online resources and tools and, more importantly, convincing them that they won’t break the internet if they try to participate in it. I guess a term for marketing would be digital literacy; although I’m not crazy about that term, it may be a useful way to communicate what I want to do. I wrote in this blog for the Connectivism course about Ohio Computer Tutor, a goofy name for a serious idea. It’s morphed a bit into ways to help businesses support staff learning and development.

My biggest roadblock is that I have to “sell” this. If I take time to work on a new business area, then I am literally taking time away from earning income with the things I already do. I can’t tell you how scary that is for a freelancer—I just cannot say “no” to work! And I already take time away from my personal life to do business stuff, so it seems unfair to take even more time away from real-live relationships. Perhaps the biggest roadblock—as it always, always is—is simply fear.

One Response to Professional Learning Portfolios…and questions

  • scott johnson says:

    Hi Leah,
    Like the drawing. Thinking a concept map might be the best way to find patterns in my working life that could actually surprise me. Some of my problem seems be not wanting all my skills listed because some of them I don’t like doing any more and some obviously lead to a dead end.

    Having been self-employed most of my life I can understand the pressure to take whatever job crosses your desk. Sometime this leads drugery and sometimes it turns out what you thought held no potential is crazy interesting. One thing about having that bit of control not having a boss gives you is the option to redefine how you will approach a job and maybe build in some interest. I found with repeat customers a relationship of trust allowed me to vary the approach because they knew I wouldn’t compromise my standards.

    Reading a book now called “Design as Art” by Bruno Munari and it is a bit about design literacy which involves giving the customer a bit more than they ask for. Obviously people do hire you for knowing more than they do but why not take that further? And then, it’s kind of a bind to be aware you could do more (have more to offer) but who will pay for that extra effort?

    My job could be very interesting yet within the constraints of what I’m expected to do the job is actually pretty awful. So maybe the main difficulty isn’t the job itself, it has to do with how others define the boundaries of your practice?

    Back to work! Nice posting.


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