Saturday, January 22, 2011

Does LinkedIn work as an ePortfolio?

One of my little jobs this year is to work with the School of Business at Otago Polytechnic to look at whether LinkedIn could work as an ePortfolio.

For those of you who have never looked at LinkedIn, it is a website that has similar functionality as Facebook, but is used for professional networking and marketing oneself for employment. My understanding is that LinkedIn is highly used in the USA and I saw somewhere (sorry I cannot remember where) that in the USA, having a LinkedIn account increased your chances by 30% of getting a job.

Business students
The Otago Polytechnic School of Business is going to require its students to have a LinkedIn account this year. To me, it seems a logical thing to do in view of it being a tool that is used so much in the business field (although I have to admit, I do not know how effective it is in New Zealand as a means of finding work).

We're also looking at ePortfolio, so rather than adding yet another thing for students to do, and incurring additional cost, I am looking at the feasibility of LinkedIn as business tool and ePortfolio.

More than a CV
There's no doubt that LinkedIn is a user-friendly CV tool. You do have the ability to write additional information about your job, education experience etc. I like the way you can connect with others, and really important...that you can join networking groups that explore any number of professional interests. I also like the way you can feed in other applications like SlideShare so people can see evidence of your work.

Reflective practice
What LinkedIn lacks in terms of ePortfolio is the ability to extend your thoughts, reflections, goals and aims for life, and other work that does not clearly fit into the "employment" or "education" categories.

What LinkedIn does allow you to do is feed in your blog. So I think the thing to do is keep a blog that records your reflective writings and other activities that do not fit into the current LinkedIn framework. Having said that, when I tried to feed this blog into my LinkedIn account, it didn't work very well for me. So this is something I need to investigate further. I also need to investigate further how easy it is to attach documents like certificates into LinkedIn.

How do you use LinkedIn?
I'd really love to hear from anyone else who uses LinkedIn, especially with students and in the education setting. Do you think LinkedIn can be used as an effective ePortfolio or should it be regarded purely as a CV tool? What do you see as the advantages and disadvantages of LinkedIn as an ePortfolio platform?

Image: 'Panama Business 2'


James Hacon said...

Hi Sarah,

I actively use LinkedIn and have found that it works well as an online CV. From my profile I have managed to follow up with connections that I have met face to face - keeping this connection active. I have also been offered various positions through the site also, most of which seem to be quite credible.

Have you noticed the 'Add Sections' option now avaliable on the site. This gives the option to add information about languages spoken, certifications, skills, as well as adding the opportunity to upload presentations, creative portolios as well as adding twitter and RSS feeds.

With these new options, I think it certainly moves it a lot further towards being a useful ePortfolio than before.

Did you read my blog post about LinkedIn?


Sarah Stewart said...

Great idea from Alison on Twitter: Make a group in LinkedIn to ask and explore the topic.

Peta Hopkins said...

You can also integrate slideshare presentations.

Kathleen Zarubin said...

Hi Sarah. (I hope you don’t mind I have responded here as well via the eportfolio conversation) - I think Linked In has a lot of potential as part of an eportfolio. Also the reflective writing aspects you mentioned can be captured via many discussions within groups. While I am an active Linked In User, I really do not know enough about how to stream / or tie together (make a view in Mahara speak) a number of a person’s (or mine for that matter) comments to demonstrate or illustrate a certain thing. But it is highly likely there is a way. As a little aside and for a chuckle, you may like to check out this ‘mockery’ video but also this site may actually have some information of value to you.

Beth Avery Fine said...


I used my account as part portfolio, part advertising, part cv.

By adding the slideshare feature, you can really add some great identity to your work with powerpoint presentations. I use it quite often for my clients. As a student, it would be a great place to add your collection of studies, reports, work in chem labs and TRANSCRIPTS. It is easy shared with university and potential employers.

Sarah Stewart said...

Thanks everyone for your comments

@James: I have seen the 'Add Sections' section, which makes LinkedIn a lot more like an ePortfolio platform. What sells LinkedIn to me over a specific ePortfolio platform is that LinkedIn will have authenticity for business students. I haven't read your blog post, James, but I will :)

@Peta: Thanks for that information - I feed in my SlideShare presentations to my LinkedIn account:

@Beth: It's just dawned on me after reading the comments from you and Peta, that if a student wanted to display some work and there was no way to do this with the current LinkedIn applications, they could do it by making up a PowerPoint presentation - thanks for that inspiration :)

Sarah Stewart said...

Hi Kathleen, sorry it took a while for your comment to appear - it disappeared into my spam box.

I have posted this post all over the place so the conservations on this topic are a little distributed. Suffice to say, a friend of mine (Pam Harden) said on Facebook that employers don't want to be bothered reading a whole lot of reflective writing etc. So now I am asking myself if using LinkedIn as an ePortfolio may disadvantage students...making their account a lot more "complicated", thus putting employers off? Would they be bothered checking through conversations in various groups? What do you think?

DaveB said...

I'm pretty active on linkedin but I think *requiring* a linkedin account for a course is a little over the top.

I agree, employers don't want to have a massive amount to read through. Mine is way WAY too much. I think it pays to be strategic about what goes in - roles + major achievements (briefly).

The addins can be useful for providing links to further stuff if someone is interested in going deeper, but putting everything on the one page is probably a turnoff. At the very least make sure that the 1-printed-page-cv type info is at the top and in the face.

Pam said...

I think of it more as an online CV but I wonder are potential employers really interested in 'reflection'? I am sure our professional bodies are as it is a legislative requirement but I think employers aren't interested in reading our inner thoughts

Kathleen Zarubin said...

(@Sarah – no worries re my past comment & ‘filtered to spam box  ) - I think this whole conversation is incredibly interesting and so multi-dimensional. First ... Face book as an ePortfolio? – here is a link 2nd< Employers & ePorts – so interesting is the idea – Employers ‘do not want to read reflective writing’ (Quite rightly too! ??) – BUT .. they ‘may’? make a decision based on a (inappropriate) picture!??? I’m not saying anything is right or wrong – BUT just all really ‘interesting! :)

M-H said...

Sarah, my biggest concern would be that LinkedIn isn't under the students' or the University's control - it's run by commercial interests, and could disappear or change in a way that wasn't useful at short notice, or as other web apps and programs have. Or it could become pay-for-use. If the student had all their CV material there that could be disastrous. The other things is that it is heavily US-based, and I would doubt that Aus or NZ employers would think to use it. Although this may change in the future, of ourse.

Sarah Stewart said...

@DaveB I think requiring business students to have a LinkedIn account is an authentic activity which they can carry into their working lives. I wouldn't do it with midwifery students because I don't think they'd use it, but I like the idea for business students.

@Pam To be honest, I don't think employers can be bothered with ePortfolios...they must have enough to do. So if an ePortfolio is more about our personal learning, would a blog not be better...I'm just thinking out loud.

@Kathleen You're right about employers responding to the 'bad' things we put online about ourselves. In that case, I think we must work to make sure our online identity is only "good" stuff so that when we are googled our LinkedIn account appears and not the photos of us drunk on FB.

@M-H You've got a good point about the ownership of LinkedIn as opposed to a universoity-based ePortfolio. But the beauty of platforms such as LinkedIn is that they are can keep on using them after you finish at uni.

As for use of LinkedIn in AU/NZ, it seems to depend what industry you are in. I don't we use it much in health, but I have talked to lots of people down-under who use it, get jobs and really find the groups useful.

Mike Johnson said...

MH has a point but I think it is something of an overblown old chestnut. I've seen it used to devastating effect in committee meetings where good ideas are often put to bed. When was the last time google went down?
One of the implicit aspects of modern information fluency is the need to stay light on your feet as regards tool choice. I can cite the recent worries over Delicious where many users of that service will have suddenly taken steps to back up their bookmarks.
I am very grateful to you Sarah for stepping out with your portfolio as you have and I regularly point colleagues at it as an example of what can/should be done with online portfolios. By the way, what safeguards/measures do you take to secure your e-portfolio?

Sarah Stewart said...

Hi Mike, thanks for your very nice comments. Like you, I don't think the anti-cloud argument holds up these days. Having said that, when Amazon went down a couple of weeks ago it caused quite a furore. My only concern about cloud ePortfolios, and using multiple sites is you do need a reasonable level of digital literacy. Having one space where everything goes, like LinkedIn or similar is a lot easier to manage.

As for security of my own ePortfolio, I have the wiki set so no-one can edit it. Theoretically, I back it up every now and again, but am not as good at doing this as I should be.