Webinar: How to Build an Unforgettable Portfolio by Tom Kuhlmann

I attended Tom Kuhlmann’s How to Build an Unforgettable Portfolio webinar on March 28. Tom is the author/curator of the e-Learning Heroes website and the Chief Learning Architect for Articulate. The webinar was hosted by TTC Innovations.

Here is the handout (with a link to the presentation itself).

Here are the big takeaways:

Portfolios get you noticed (and hired!)

A portfolio allows you to showcase your skills, experience, and qualifications. It is a visual resume (and is better than a resume, since potential employers/clients can actually see your work in your portfolio).

Some things Tom recommended that you put in a portfolio:

  • Writing examples
  • Software simulations (trainings)
  • Scenario-based training
  • Examples of interactive interactions (is there any other kind? 😉

Tom said you could/should keep a core of these four things in your portfolio, then add small other examples, which you can created based on the weekly challenges he puts out on his blog.

Tom also said that the things most likely to get you hired are:

  • Visual look of your site and what’s on it
  • Interactive e-Learning (something the user can go through, touch the screen, engage with the interaction)
  • If you’re known in your professional community – if you engage with others, share examples, answer questions, etc.

Three reasons to build and maintain a portfolio:

Personal, Professional, and Technological 

Personal

Your portfolio can document your own personal learning and development. You can annotate what you are learning, or your reflections about books, webinars, classes, etc. in your portfolio. It is like a digital journal or a file cabinet where you can document your work. It allows you quick access to projects – even if you never share them publicly. You can post project reviews and lessons learned. Your portfolio can engage you with other like-minded people.

Tom said that in your portfolio, you should post examples of your work. Set a posting goal that is achievable (five times per week? once per week?) and stick to it, even if you’re “just” curating content. Even curating content with your explanation of what you found valuable helps you build credibility and gets you engaged with others in your community/profession. Tom warned that if you are going to share others’ work, even if they’re “free” and do not require attribution, that you should include the link to the information.

Professional

Your portfolio helps you build your personal brand and helps you network. Your portfolio can prepare you for future opportunities (whether you’re actively seeking or if a potential employer or client finds you and your work interesting). You can also control what people think about you with your portfolio (be careful when choosing images, graphics, etc. – especially your photos associated with your accounts – because those can leave an impression about who you are/your work).

Tom recommended that you look at yourself not as an employee, but as your own small business (whether you are an employee of a company or not). Always have a consultant’s mentality and think about how you want to market yourself and your skills (even if you’re not looking for employment or client work).

Tom also recommended being engaged in communities associated with your profession (such as e-Learning Heroes, ISPI, ATD, LinkedIn, etc.). When you really connect with others in those communities, comment on their questions and comments, share their work, and share your work, you create real connections and portray yourself as an expert.

 Technology

Technology was the third pillar that Tom talked about. In this section he gave some tools as tips as to how you can set up a portfolio with limited resources.

The three main tools for developing e-Learning are Captivate, Storyline, and Lectora. These can be expensive, so if you need to generate some quick examples, you may want to download a free trial of one of them, make your examples, and save the output for use/demonstration. Tom mentioned that the weekly challenges that he puts out on his blog are good ways to get you engaged with the software and showcase your abilities.

Tom also mentioned a blog by Richard Byrne called Free Tech for Teachers. Tom said you may get some good tools and resources there, but warned that open source/low-cost tools may have issues and don’t have much support available. Essentially, they may save you money, but they will likely eat up a lot of time.

Tom said if you don’t have examples of past work (such as a clickable interaction or course or a screen shot of job aids, checklists, etc.), that you can do verbal case studies. Mock up what you did and explain it: What was the project? What was your role? What was the outcome? What were your big wins?

If you need to, blur or black out proprietary information. Use screen shots if you can’t put a full interaction on your portfolio.

Tom warned against free website apps like Wix because exporting content is a potential issue. Your content and your structure gets tied up in proprietary systems and many of the free website development tools restrict file uploads (how much you can upload/file size) and many won’t allow you to host a course. In these cases, Tom recommended Amazon S3 to upload your courses to and share them out. (I have a ScormCloud account where I can host courses and it’s free up to 10 registrations per month – a registration is a person in a course – so if one person enrolls in four courses, that’s four registrations).

Finally, Tom recommended that you own your domain and associate an e-mail with it. (I just did this for myself today, using WordPress – super easy and the whole thing cost $150 for the year.)

He also recommended removing “friction.” Don’t make it hard for people to see your stuff (don’t require subscriptions or host giveaways that are cumbersome to join).

And…like Porky Pig said…a bah dee a bah dee a bah dee a bah THAT’S ALL, FOLKS!

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