Preparing Arts Leaders in 21st Century Skills: A Case Study for the ePortfolio Project
in the Arts and Administration Program at the University of Oregon
Dr. Lori L. Hager, University of Oregon, Eric Schiff, University of Oregon
The ePortfolio project at the University of Oregon began in the Arts and Administration
Program in the School of Architecture and Allied Arts in 2005. The Arts Management (Cultural
Management) field is experiencing a generational shift, which will have significant
repercussions for the future of the nonprofit arts sector in the United States (Dewey, 2004).
Founders will be retiring in startling numbers over the next decade, making the preparation of
the next generation of arts managers critical (Saunders, 2006). In recognition of the need to
prepare arts leaders to bring the nonprofit arts sector in line with technological advances, the
ePortfolio project in the Arts and Administration Program represents the only professional
preparation program for arts managers in the United States with a focus on technological
The ePortfolio project sparked a growing interest in ePortfolios on the UO campus, and an ad
hoc interdisciplinary ePortfolio group comprised of professional schools, including the School
of Journalism, the College of Education, and the School of Architecture and Allied Arts,
emerged. This interdisciplinary group is advocating a campus-wide initiative for ePortfolios,
beginning in the Fall 2008. This paper describes the process and content of the ePortfolio
project, the goals and challenges that are shaping it, and the vision for its unique contribution
to not only the arts management field, but ePortfolios for professional schools.
The ePortfolio project at the University of Oregon began in the Arts and Administration Program in the
School of Architecture and Allied Arts in 2005. The Arts Management (Cultural Management) field is
experiencing a generational shift, which will have significant repercussions for the future of the
nonprofit arts sector in the United States (Dewey, 2004). Founders will be retiring in startling numbers
over the next decade, making the preparation of the next generation of arts managers critical (Saunders,
2006). In recognition of the need to prepare arts leaders to bring the nonprofit arts sector in line with
technological advances, the ePortfolio project in the Arts and Administration Program represents the
only professional preparation program for arts managers in the United States with a focus on
technological preparation. This paper describes the process and content of the ePortfolio project, the
goals and challenges that are shaping it, and the vision for its unique contribution to not only the arts
management field, but ePortfolios for professional schools.
The mission of the ePortfolio project at the University of Oregon states that:
ePortfolios enhances linkages between professional preparation, academic coursework, and
technological applications by supporting students, courses, and project advancement through
tutoring, project evaluation, and inter-departmental collaboration.
ePortfolios is a three-year initiative supported through a grant by the University of Oregon Education
Technology Committee. Directed by Dr. Lori Hager, professor in the Arts and Administration,
ePortfolios connects the professional development graduate curriculum with the Information Design
and Multimedia course series. Under the guidance of Eric Schiff, arts management graduate students
create and post their ePortfolios at the end of their first year, which they manage throughout their
This initiative supports ePortfolios to expand throughout AAA, offering workshops and tutors to
undergraduate and graduate students to design, develop, and publish their ePortfolios in support of
internships, research, and career advancement. The purposes of the three year ePortfolio pilot project
• Research, design, and plan pilot and model from existing models and in
application to the UO environment.
• Provide training to support staff, students, and faculty in eportfolio development.
• Document and evaluate the first term implementation for the purposes of program
• Pilot an eportfolio site for undergraduate and graduate students in eportfolio
Additionally, Year Two and Year Three goals include:
• Mentor additional faculty in the development and use of ePortfolios.
• Continue workshops and trainings in design and applications specific to
• Expand ePortfolios applications throughout AAA.
• Explore feasibility of expanding ePortfolios to include undergraduate fine and
performing arts students and faculty.
Focus: Platform for ePortfolio (web development); Organizational system (PODS);
Interdisciplinarity (ad-hoc group)
Vision: ePortfolios enhances connections with the professional communities, alumni and families
through a fully public site that demonstrates the best student work.
ePortfolios focuses on tools development for students in the professional arts fields in recognition that
artists entering the workforce must be conversant in digital technologies and medias, and that
universities have a responsibility to prepare artists as entrepreneurs with the ability to communicate,
network, and promote their work electronically.
Throughout the year ePortfolio tutors provide support to students during regular lab hours in software,
web development, and digital media. In addition to providing one-on-tutoring in design software and
web development, ePortfolios works with the new AAA career services center, PODS (Professional
Outreach and Development for Students) to offer workshops in designing and developing ePortfolios as
part of the Career Intensives Workshops. Student are offered the opportunity to post their ePortfolio on
the dedicated server, and access to one-on-one sessions with the ePortfolio tutors for development and
The focus on ePortfolios in the Arts and Administration Program is on developing student skill sets in
technological application to ensure employability in a tight arts market, and to increase the
technological capacity of the arts sector generally. University of Oregon Arts and Administration
graduate students are uniquely positioned to be leaders in the arts management field, and are
competitively advantaged when seeking employment post graduation in large part because they are
required to take a series of “core technology” courses. Adjunct Instructor Eric Schiff leads students
through the Information Design and Presentation and Multimedia/Internet media courses, where
students are exposed to and develop skill sets in graphic and visual design theory, best practices and
application of technology tools and resources, and delivery systems centric to branding and marketing
for both non-profit and for-profit arts organizations.
The two Information Design and Presentation courses focus on understanding and applying concepts in
organization identity, brand development, and systems for the design and presentation of information
across a variety of both print and visual mediums. Students work with industry standard software
programs and digital tools to complete projects and outcomes that include creating an organization
brand/logo, collateral materials, and a comprehensive set of graphic standards. Designing and
producing media for both small and large format advertising is covered with field trips to local print
shops and service bureaus as part of the “real world” experience. Learning valuable project
organization and management skills are a natural outgrowth of the course requirements and subsequent
activities that include developing and applying metrics and standards for review and evaluation.
In the Advanced Information Design and Presentation course, concepts of information architecture and
associated design and development processes and issues are introduced and applied through a series of
lectures and projects that include creating online multimedia presentations. Project requirements and
outcomes include learning best practices and tools for developing and mapping content information
hierarchy and navigation, developing systems for collecting, naming, and culling necessary content
assets, story boarding and prototyping presentation design, layout, and formatting.
Provided with a strong foundation of theory, methodology, skill development, and practical application
through the two Information Design and Presentation courses, students take the third in the series of
“technology core” courses, Multimedia/Internet media. The primary outcome of this course is an
ePortfolio, an exit strategy and marketing tool for students post graduation. Students are introduced to
ePortfolio theory, concepts, issues, methods, and technologies. They use industry standard software and
digital tools to create their portfolios, which are then housed on the University of Oregon servers.
As a result of the ePortfolio initiative, 12 out of 15 AAD graduate students completed their eportfolios
during the first year of the project - a 70% improvement over eportfolio completion rate of students the
previous year. At the end of the second year, 100% of the students completed and posted their
We selected a very qualified team from a highly skilled pool of applicants. ePortfolio tutors are upper-
level Digital Arts students, and have advanced skills in digital editing, design, and website
development, (as well as the patience required to teach the tools). The graduate assistant is a second-
year master’s student, with experience in project development and graphic and design. Weekly
meetings provided opportunities to assess tutor comfort level, skill level, and to address any issues that
may have arisen. At the end of each year, the program evaluation report was created, distributed, and
posted on the website. These evaluation documents assist in continual program improvement.
Faculty from other programs, including Architecture and Digital Arts were brought in to consult on
integrating eportfolios into courses and student academic requirements. During Year One, Digital Arts
faculty conducted a daylong intensive as part of a web development courses, and students were
required to submit and post their eportfolios. During Year Two, Architecture faculty worked to
develop a course gallery site so that students in her studio course could post their project, work
collaboratively, and so that projects could be shared with faculty and students. This project gallery
function will be included in Year Three pilot web development process.
The original ePortfolio website was developed on Word Press, a blog software program, in order to
allow a single individual to add content and maintain the website. It also has the capacity for social and
professional networking via the blogs, which was an important component. We wanted a means of
communicating between courses, and of soliciting evaluative comments from colleagues at peer
During Year Two, the project conducted an extensive research and development for a comprehensive
website and database that would utilize best practices in the ePortfolio fields and extend applications
specific to the professional arts. As a result, the new website will function in three ways: full public
student professional ePortfolios for career development and professional networking, hybrid
public/private space that is course-based where students and faculty post and archive course projects, is
searchable, and which has project collaboration functions allowing faculty and students from different
departments and disciplines to navigate interdisciplinary virtual environments; and a fully private site
to track student learning throughout their academic career for the purposes of assessment, advising, and
Through the ePortfolio initiative the scope of the project has broadened to include piloting a data driven
ePortfolio website and web server using Plone, an open source technology. The intent is to provide a
comprehensive network of ePorfolio resources for students, faculty, alumni, community, and
professionals to use for their specific need and purpose.
A rigorous program evaluation and documentation plan has been implemented since the project began
in September 2005. Each time students access the tutors, students log in, designate the length of the
session, what they hope to accomplish, and then at the end of the session, they fill out an evaluation of
the session. At the end of the week, each tutor fills out a weekly assessment of their sessions. The
evaluations and assessments have given us useful information for setting lab hours and assessing what
students are utilizing the tutors to assist with, as well as providing assessments on work stations, tutor
expertise, and convenience of lab hours. As a result, we are adapting our training and expectations, and
constantly monitoring lab time usage so as to make the most effective use of the tutor and student’s
During the first term implementation in 2005-2006, we directly assisted 45 students to create and post
their ePortfolios on ePortfolio.uoregon.edu. ePortfolio tutors assisted students in 144 tutoring sessions,
averaging 2 hours duration, in Dreamweaver, Illustrator, InDesign, Acrobat, FTP, graphic design and
digital editing. We began with one faculty and one support staff from Media Services, and expanded to
include 2 undergraduate students, 1 graduate student, 1 adjunct instructor, 2 additional AAA faculty,
the career services director, as well as faculty and administration across campus. We successfully
deployed the project website in 2005 at ePortfolio.uoregon.edu.
Through the ePortfolio process, students develop a strong foundation in design, design tools, and web
hierarchy and information architecture. Students used 7 lab hours in web hierarchy and architecture; 21
lab hours in design; 25 lab hours in learning design tools such as Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop;
and 31.75 lab hours creating, uploading, and updating their ePortfolios. However, students used the
majority of the lab tutor sessions to learn and practice web development software tools such as
Macromedia Dreamweaver and Fireworks.
Q: How do you think that having an ePortfolio will help academically and professionally?
“Hopefully, it will enable to get a sneak preview of my work and make them excited enough to
call me in for an interview. It might also expose me to people that I am not even aware are
looking for someone with my skills and training.”
“Having an e-portfolio helps refine what I want others to see as a part of my portfolio.
Academicaly I have little use for the e-portfolio, other than the learning process of putting one
up. But professionally I believe it will help in letting prospective employers have easier access
to my portfolio that can be viewed at any time as long as there's an internet connection.”
“Having access to my portfolio via the web is not only a great way to teach web design but also
a business tool. At this point, I am newly entering the job market and providing potential
employers, schools and friends with an easy way to see my work and progress is vital. The
ePortfolio class has been an incredible help and has served as a much needed jumpstart to my
portfolio development process.”
ePortfolios provide students with an artifact storage system for project portfolios, which in the arts will
often include visuals, anecdotes, video, and written materials generated from multiple community
projects. The eportfolios allow students to manage, represent, and archive multidimensional learning in
the arts. We envision incorporating digital storytelling (Barrett) as well as digital performance archive
and evaluate multidimensional experience of live community arts events and projects, as well as visual
arts events, classes, and arts project development.
We will enrich the ways in which students will be able to access the ePortfolio experience through pre-
assessments that identify students for the appropriate “ePortfolio track.” Students will undergo a
preliminary assessment relative to technological and design skills. Based on their score, they will be
directed through the ePortfolio process in one of threeePortfolio tracks:
Track 1 - Minimal to no skills – directed to take a tools course, either through Digital Media
Tools, a quarter-long digital arts courses, or other.
Track 2 - Intermediate Skills – ePortfolio workshop.
Track 3 - Advanced skills – one-on one sessions with the ePortfolio tutors.
The final result of participation is a successful ePortfolio posted and maintained on the new website.
We envision the website as a community bulletin board, a communication hub between pre-
professional arts students and the professional community through student eportfolios, internships, and
job opportunities, peer networking and peer review; an interdisciplinary communication hub between
students and faculty on campus through a project gallery and virtual gallery space where students’ best
course work and projects are exhibited and can be searched and archived; as a professional and social
network for students post-graduation through enhanced connections with alumni relations and the Career Center.
Dewey, P. (2004). From Arts Management to Cultural Administration. International Journal
of Arts Management, 6 (3), 13-22.
Saunders, V. (December, 2006). Bridging the Generation Gap in Arts and Culture Leadership:
Taking the First Steps. Culturework. 10 (4).
Saunders, V. (August, 2006). Boomers, XY’s and the Making of a Generational Shift in Arts
Management. Culturework. 10 (3). http://aad.uoregon.edu/culturework/culturework35a.html
Barret, H. and J. Carney. (2005). Conflicting Paradigms and Competing Purposes in Electronic
Portfolio Development. http://electronicportfolios.com/portfolios.html#pubs
Lori L. Hager, Ph.D., Assistant Professor
University of Oregon, Arts and Administration Program
School of Architecture and Allied Arts
5230 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403-5230
Eric Schiff, M.A., Adjunct Instructor
University of Oregon, Arts and Administration Program
School of Architecture and Allied Arts
5230 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403-5230