Student e-Portfolios and a Legitimate Audience

All semester my FYC students have been building their e-portfolios. Instead of designing this e-folio as just a "writing" e-folio, I decided to provide a template that would showcase their career interests. Every Friday, my students would blog about an NPR article that is related to their career field, and there were various other tabs for them to showcase their experience; there's even a place for them to publish their research paper they wrote in my class (also related to their career field).  Hidden from public view, this e-folio contains a "Reflective Writing" tab where they store all their essay drafts, inserted as Google Drive folders. This tab also contains their daily blog where they write about whatever they choose.
As we close out the semester, my students shared their e-folios with someone in their career field; the contact could have been a teacher, a family member or someone else from the community, as long as that person works in the area my students were studying. My students wrote letters to their contact with specific questions about the e-folio to get professional feedback.
Yesterday, my students blogged about the feedback they received, and the results were very interesting.
Many students described how they didn't see much value in keeping an NPR current events blog related to their field, but when their contact commented on how interesting and relevant that feature was, they saw the value. Additionally, many of my students reported a surge of confidence from the positive feedback and constructive criticism.

One of my students had this to say in her blog post:
Today is the day!  My last blog of the semester and it gets to be about my e-portfolio.  When my professor first mentioned this assignment to me, I was somewhat interested because I knew it would help me out in the long run.  However, I was nervous to send it to anyone because I felt as if it was not going to be good enough.  Especially, since it was going to be sent out to someone in my career field interest.  I added more pressure to myself.  It had to be perfect.  When I finally heard for someone who agreed to look over it, I was thrilled.  I am stepping into the right direction.  When I got his response, it turned out to be better that I thought.  I was quite surprised to learn he read through my blogs.  I didn't believe he would go through all of them.  However, I knew did since the one he enjoyed particularly was one of my first blogs I had written.  I did not have as much experience or volunteer as I wanted to have.  However, he was able to send me in the right direction and give me great advice.  Overall, this is one of the best interactive assignments I have done.  It gives you a feel of how it's going to be in the real world.  I enjoyed every step into creating this e-portfolio.  It was a great experience.

Most of my students reported a more invested writing experience knowing that they would have to share this project with a real person, a legitimate audience. In other words, my students were vulnerable, more than usual, about their writing (and their professional experiences), and I believe that is a good thing, an opportunity for real growth. Many of the contacts commented on their research, blog posts and overall writing, which was surprising to them. I felt like saying, "Yes, people pay attention to that stuff, kiddos."
I am going to use this same template when I teach all Comp II in the Spring, but I already note some changes that I want to make.
 Below are sample student e-Portfolios (all with their permission). Again, the "Reflective Writing" Tab is hidden due to the personal blogs on that page.

Jennifer Montenegro e-Portfolio
Monique Arizmendi e-Portfolio