If you recall the minimalist fundamentals of eportfolios the eportfolio can and should be simple to understand and, more importantly, simple to create and maintain. There are really only 3 steps to creating and maintaining an eportfolio/blog:
It has never been easier to create an eportfolio/blog and there have never been so many choices in eportfolio/blogging tools or platforms. Ironically these are the two factors when combined improperly can limit the persistent eportflio use beyond a students course of studies. Let me save you the hassle of making the wrong choice.
If I were to start my eportfolio/blog from scratch today I would use self-hosted WordPress on a hosting service like Bluehost. This is exactly what I have been using since 2006. The only regret I have was that from 2006-2009 I posted on a WordPress site for a college I worked at rather then my own domain and when I left that college I left three years of posts behind. Don’t make this same mistake–post your work on a site your own. You can always cross post to another site.
WordPress is easy enough to use that you don’t need to know a line of HTML or other code but also powerful enough to run some of the largest sites on the Internet. According to W3Techs Web Technology Surveys & Buildwith CMS Trends
WordPress is used by 24.6% of all the websites, that is a content management system market share of 58.6%.
WordPress is the platform used in University of Mary Washington’s Domain of One’s Own. The Domain of One’s own has spread to over twenty additional universities. WordPress has also been used at the University of British Columbia (UBC) Eportfolio program since 2006. Many institutions have copied and implemented UBC’s eportfolio model.
If your school or organization offers an internal solution this may be a good place to start but unless they have a very specific path for moving your eportfolio to your own self-hosted site I would encourage you to create your own site and forgo the hassle of having to move your eportfolio at a later date. I am sophisticated technology user and lost over three years of weekly posts by not using my own site.
You may be tempted to ask:
But isn’t WordPress.com free and since it is WordPress isn’t this a good way to get started on my eportfolio/blog? Yes WordPress.com is free but you will be very limited in the themes you can use, the plugins and many other functions. More importantly it isn’t your domain – you don’t own it… you are only renting. My colleagues and I at Lamar University are currently conducting a research project to see what factors contribute to the continued use or the lack of use of an eportfolio beyond a program of study. One of our hypothesis is that people who don’t own their own domain/eportfolio do not persist in maintaining the eportfolio. I have gathered enough anecdotal evidence over the years to support this notion and by the spring of 2016 I should have the hard data to back this hypothesis.
Since you want to continue using your eportfolio/blog it is best to start it on a platform that is powerful enough and gives you enough control to grow your eportfolio/blog the way you wish to grow it.
But can’t I move my WordPress.com eportfolio/blog over to a self-hosted WordPress in the future? Yes, you can but it is never as easy moving a site as you hope it will be. I have moved many WordPress sites over the years and I still dread having to do so. Most hosting companies like Bluehost will help you move your WordPress.com site but it will cost. So the money you save on WordPress.com will be spent on moving it to your self-hosted WordPress site. Start with the self-hosted site at the beginning, limit your problems, and plan for the future.
But aren’t sites like Blogger, Square, Weebly or Wiz much easier to use? Most of these sites do suggest that they are simpler to use than a self-hosted WordPress site but when you use a hosting company like Bluehost you get 24 by 7 phone and chat support, great video tutorials and a system that is very reliable and just works. You do have many more options with a self-hosted Bluehost domain but you will want to use those options as your needs expands. For example I have have many different sites/domains that reside within my main Bluehost account. Furthermore, I have experimented with most other sites and keep on coming back to WordPress.
There are many other reasons why it is best to start with the self-hosted WordPress site so rather than just take my word for it have a look at:
- Why Choose Self-Hosted WordPress Over the Alternatives?
- 7 Reasons to convert your WordPress.com blog to WordPress.org
Since it will be your eportfolio/blog you can include anything you want. I have had a website or eportfolio or blog up since the mid 90’s and I suggest you consider the following sections to your site:
- Main Interest (on my blog you will see Learning, Courses, CSLE, Eportfolio, Book list etc.)
- Social Media connections
If you recall my minimalist definition for an eportflio being a learners digital evidence of meaningful connections then you need to include what is meaningful to you. As your eportfolio/blog grows you will have expand and reorganize your site as necessary.
For example my son Levi started his eportfolio when he was in primary school. He is now a 19 year old professional down hill mountain bike racer and has re-purposed and reorganized his eportflio into his blog to promote his racing career. The post How My Blog Has Helped Me explains how his blog has helped him get sponsors and promote his brand.
Contribute to your eportfolio/blog regularily
If you want to contribute to your eportfolio/blog on a regular basis you need to accept the fact that it will never be finished! The reason I can say this is that I believe that I will never stop learning so I will always have something new to include in my eportfolio. This idea is also important because once you accept the fact that your posts will never be perfect you can publish your work more quickly and over the years see how much you have grown.
DO NOT build a grandiose plan of posting 500 or 1000 words daily because the research into willpower, habits and goal setting has revealed that we have limited will power and if you rely on this willpower to meet huge goals you will fail (watch for more details on this in future posts).
Instead set a very small goal or mini-habit of writing 50 words a day on your eportfolio/blog. You don’t have to publish 50 words a day, just commit to the simple task of writing 50 words on your blog. You can save your posts in a draft mode until you have enough to make a full post. You will find that you will often write much more than 50 words and will be able to post more often. Just commit to the 50 words to build the habit of writing on your eportfolio/blog daily and within 18-66 days (the average range of time it takes to establish a habit) you will establish this habit.
When you combine this mini-habit with the fact that you will never be finished your eportfolio/blog and it will never be perfect, you will find that you will be posting quite regularly.