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Online portfolio attracts students

Ever wanted to show off your old Writing 20 papers to your dean or a Goldman Sachs recruiter? Probably not. But if so, you're in luck, because Portfolio@Duke has arrived.

 The long-delayed web-based archive for undergraduate work came online this fall, affording students, potential employers and administrators the opportunity to monitor progress and achievement in writing, research and art.

 Portfolio@Duke is sponsored and managed by Trinity College of Arts and Sciences. While embarrassing Writing 20 papers or any other work can be kept in a private folder, students will also have the opportunity to make selected academic work publicly available.

 One of the major uses planned for the portfolio is for job-related activities. Director of Assessment for Trinity College Matt Serra said potential employers will soon be able to follow a link on a student's job application to the portfolio, and there they will find writing samples or other desired information.

 "I hope one day firms and various employers, including but not limited to those that already visit the school for the annual Career Fair, will use the Duke Portfolio to scan for potential job candidates," said senior Michael Grabarz, who has signed up for the service.

 However, Sheila Curran, director of the Career Center, said she doubted that employers would take the time to check out a student's portfolio. She predicted the best use of the portfolio would be by job applicants seeking to retain and organize writing samples and for recommendations, as a student could refer his or her professor to the portfolio to review work done for a class taken long ago.

 "It's less that that they'll show prospective employers, much more that it will be a reminder to [students] of things they've done throughout their Duke career," Curran said. "It might remind them that they had done a certain project for which teamwork was involved." Students will be able to upload papers, JPEGs, MP3s or other file types--up to 50 megabytes' worth--onto the portfolio website, www.duke.edu/studentportfolio.

 The site was also created in part to help Trinity College officials assess the curriculum and the frequency with which students write and research.

 "Assessment is a feedback mechanism. You put out a product or a program and then periodically you have to go in and assess where it's at," Serra said. "For example, the curriculum is under its first review, so we might want to look at how many people are doing research papers. Through [Portfolio@Duke], we can look every two or three years and see how many people are putting research papers or works of art in their portfolios. It's a more objective measure."

 Some students said they wanted a middle ground between total privacy and total publicity for their work, preferring instead a way for specified employers or others to view documents via password access. Kevin Witte, director of Arts and Sciences Computing, said this improvement and others are being developed now.

 So far students have been signing up for the free service at a fairly robust clip, Serra said. Several hundred people have obtained folders in the first few weeks that the site has been online.

 Despite the administration's serious aims, a number of students said they were stocking their portfolios with non-academic work.

 "I've used iMovie and Final Cut Pro to make a few movies of road trips and events on campus," said senior Andrew Archer. "There isn't enough space to put these files on my website, [but] the Portfolio website provides space to showcase these movies for friends, family or whomever else would be interested to see them."

 Junior Jeremy Chapman had similar intentions. "I just used the site to post a video clip of myself engaging in some tomfoolery at a Durham Bulls game," he said. "That's all."

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