New Blackboard Portfolio Tool: Upgraded Features are Easy to Use

blackboard portfolio sampleThroughout the summer and fall, the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center team has been busy working on implementation of the new Blackboard Portfolio tool that was released during the May 2015 Blackboard Learn Upgrade. Over 130 faculty and staff from more than 40 departments across campus, including many instructors for UNIV 101 and First Year Composition courses, have been trained on the portfolio tool. Students in these programs as well as in a variety of other courses will be building their ePortfolios during the fall 2015 and spring 2016 semesters.

In the new portfolio tool, students can easily create multiple portfolios for different purposes. Students can share their academic, co-curricular, and professional accomplishments in unique ways to tell their stories using the Blackboard Portfolio tool. Faculty and programs can request templates to provide a portfolio structure for students to follow. As students build their portfolios, they can include photos and videos, as well as upload any file as an artifact. Students can also integrate files they have submitted as Blackboard Assignments in any course they have taken at NIU, including the assignment instructions, their file, the grade assigned, and any comments or rubric submitted by their faculty.

When the portfolio is complete, students can submit it to a Portfolio Assignment, so that faculty can review and grade the portfolio in the Grade Center. It is also easy for students to share the portfolios with NIU users as well as people outside of NIU, with only an email address.

Extensive resources and tutorials have been created to support faculty and students who will be using the Blackboard Portfolio. Quick Guides, instructions, and step-by-step video tutorials are available for faculty and students on the Teaching with Blackboard website.  Check out our website at for step-by-step instructions on how to use the new Blackboard Portfolio tools. Contact us at for more information on using the Blackboard Portfolio for your course or departmental ePortfolios!

Online Teaching Effectiveness Institute featured High Impact Practices and Portfolios


During the first day of the Spring 2015 Teaching Effectiveness Institute, faculty and staff participated in two one-half day professional development sessions offered in a fully online environment. 47 faculty from across 25 academic departments participated in the morning session High Impact Practices: Fostering Student Engagement, Success, and Retention, which featured presentations from NIU faculty and staff who currently use high impact practices to support teaching and learning. Speakers representing a range of departments including Julia Spears, Stephanie Zobac and Michaela Holtz of the Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning; Denise Rode, First- and Second-Year Experience; Courtney Gallaher, Department of Geography/Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies; and Alicia Schatteman, Non-profit Management School of Public Administration & The Center for NGO Leadership and Development shared examples and lessons learned while using high impact practices at NIU.

22 faculty from across 14 academic departments participated in the afternoon session Portfolios for Student Career Success, which introduced faculty and staff to pedagogy, instructional design and career development concepts related to the effective use of portfolios. The institute developed and presented by Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center staff highlighted connections between pedagogical principles and portfolio design as well as the importance of collecting authentic artifacts of students’ best work to support development of portfolios that can be used throughout college and students’ careers. Workshop participants were also given a “sneak peak” at the Blackboard Portfolio tool that is currently under development.

BB_collaborate_apps_imageThe online sessions were hosted using Blackboard Collaborate to offer participants the opportunity to engage from the comfort of their home, office or other site using computers or mobile devices. The cross-platform strategy provided ease of access for all participants using a variety of IOS and Android devices and reduced the carbon footprint by eliminating the need for travel. An online Blackboard Learn community is also available for faculty to continue engaging with colleagues on best practices related to HIPs and portfolios.

Fast Facts:

The online institute provided significant savings potential for participants. Over 3,900 miles driven, 103 gallons of gasoline (cost savings of $394), and 3,293 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions were potentially saved by faculty participating online rather than driving to campus for the institutes. Faculty indicated that they would welcome the opportunity to attend online institutes in the future.

A snapshot of responses from participants indicated that the programs were well received. Comments include:

Presenters had great, concrete ideas for high impact learning practices.

Great program! Met the needs of a wide variety of faculty members. I also appreciate the ability to participate from home! 🙂

Portfolios may help students see connections among the different things they learn within a program curriculum.

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