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How to Develop an Instructional Design ePortfolio – Part 3

In the second installment of the “How to Develop an Instructional Design ePortfolio,” I described the basic steps necessary to determine which artifacts should be included in your ePortfolio. In addition, those steps were clarified in regards to where you are within your career path.

By now you should have a good idea of what you will include and have descriptive paragraphs to accompany those artifacts.

Today’s post is the third step in the portfolio development process: examine content management systems (CMS) and decide which to use for your portfolio.

Let me be frank in stating that there are many options available to house your portfolio. This post is not meant to discuss all of them, nor could I in the limited space that I have here. What I intend to do, rather, is examine two popular (and free) CMS and how they may fit in with your needs.

If, after going through my post, you need more options and information, please visit CMS Review for further details on a variety of open source CMS.

WordPress LogoThe first, and possibly obvious choice, is WordPress.com. While it is intended for use as a blog (a tool you should be employing anyway), you can create a host of static pages to house all sorts of information. The Dashboard is easy to use and there are a plethora of themes to choose from. One major drawback is the lack of Flash support.

Some pros and cons of WordPress.com (adapted from Remarkablogger):

  • easy to create content
  • if you are blogging already on WordPress you can simply add in static pages for your ePortfolio
  • if you are relying on SEO to help market your skills, WP is a good choice particularly if you have a blog and ePortfolio on the same site
  • pages can have subpages, this is particularly important if you need to separate out sub-categories in your portfolio
  • plugins, although wordpress.com has a limited variety as opposed to wordpress.org
  • helpful user community
  • paid upgrades including CSS, domain names, space, videos, and no-ads
  • if you plan on expanding your site (like adding forums, wikis, or offering courses, etc) then you need to look elsewhere since that is beyond what WordPress can do right now
  • commerce is prohibited on WordPress.com so you couldn’t sell anything if you wanted to (like reports or courses); however, you can accept donations through PayPal
  • you cannot use Flash or other embeds due to security reasons so you’ll need to use Slideshare or screenshots for your interactivities

Why WordPress.com rather than WordPress.org? Well, its free and easy to set up. You can also point a domain name directly through WordPress.com for $15 per domain per year. If you really need to customize your site’s look, you can upgrade to Custom CSS for $15 a year. So, for a total of $30 a year (that’s $2.50 a month), you can have a well planned and designed ePortfolio/blog/promotional site.

Joomla!The other CMS is Joomla!. Joomla! is an open source content management system that is free and ready to go out of the box (so to speak). There are plenty of free and customizable templates and the system itself is very powerful. This is a good choice if you know your site will be expanding at a later date.

Some Pros and Cons for Joomla! (adapted from Computersight)

  • free and customizable
  • lots of extensions and plugins to choose from to extend your site
  • most of the extensions and plugins are open source so you can make changes if you need to
  • quick to set up and add content to
  • a vigorous and helpful user community
  • e-commerce is easy to integrate using extensions
  • Joomla! needs to be hosted on a LAMP server
  • while security is getting better, you need to be aware that there have been some issues
  • you’ll need to know the basics of php and javascript if you want to make any changes to the underlying code
  • sometimes extensions don’t play well with each other and you will need to be able to figure out which ones are causing issues and have the patience to find the answers
  • it can be complex to operate

If you are interested in using Joomla! for your ePortfolio site, I recommend cruising their forums, downloading and reading the Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Joomla!, and reading Joomla 1.5 by Barrie North. It really is a powerful tool but it also requires more dedication on your part to use.

As I mentioned earlier, there are many more content management systems available than just the two mentioned. The reason I chose just these two to focus on is twofold:

1) they are open source and free to use, and

2) they are the best examples of two different types of CMS.

Choosing a CMS is more than just about immediate needs; it’s about looking at the future and seeing the potential. Setting up for that potential now makes implementing it later that much easier. You need to sit down and really determine what you want to be doing within the next few years.

➠ Is it to showcase your work for your next 1099 or W2? Or is it one step closer to creating your own business or corporation?
➠ Do you want to create and sell? Or do you have a need to teach even as you are working/learning yourself?
➠ One or two of the above? Or maybe all of it sounds like what you want to do?

As a final thought for this part of the ePortfolio design process, whichever content management system you decide upon, you are making a positive step towards opening the door when opportunity knocks upon it.

Until next time, I leave you with your tutorial activity and another step closer to a finished ePortfolio!


Tutorial Activity

Analyze the pros and cons of several CMS and then choose one for your ePortfolio. Using the categories and sub-categories determined in the previous step, create pages and subpages (depending on the site structure you are using) to flesh out your portfolio. Add in your artifacts and descriptions. You may use my test portfolio, developed using WordPress.com, as a guide if needed.

Ready to move on? Excellent!

How to Develop an Instructional Design Portfolio – Part 1

How to Develop an Instructional Design Portfolio – Part 2

* Please note that I am not affiliated with either of the CMS providers discussed in this post. I have nothing but respect for the hard working people who put their time and effort into open source software. The opinions related in this post are meant solely as a guide and for a very specific topic. If you have any questions or comments about this post, please contact me.

4 Responses

  1. […] How to Develop an Instructional Design Portfolio – Part 3 Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)How to Develop an Instructional Design ePortfolio – Part 2Technology Skills for Instructional DesignersFugly Friday: Tiny Designer […]

  2. Hi! Thanks for your excellent site, and in particular this series on ePortfolios. I think there is one key point that needs clarifying for readers of this blog who need to show Flash files on their sites: While you provide a link to the page explaining the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org, that page doesn’t spell it out, but a critical difference between the two is that by using the more ambitious WordPress.org, you CAN post Flash and other embed type files as needed as part of your ePortfolio. That’s a very big difference for some of us. Thanks again, and keep up the excellent work!

    • Thank you, Andrew! You’re right, wordpress.com does not allow Flash embeds while wordpress.org does. It probably got lost in the post, but I did link to WordPress.com’s stance on Flash embeds, found here. Even with this drawback, that WordPress.com is a great vehicle for a portfolio.

      • Absolutely, April! And if the other bells & whistles aren’t needed, the .com version is the way to go. I just didn’t want other folks like me (who want to post Captivate files, etc.) to breeze through your article, think WordPress doesn’t do Flash at all, and then focus their CMS search elsewhere. It’s just a matter of picking the version of WordPress (.com or .org) that suits the individual’s portfolio needs. Your series couldn’t have come at a better time for many of us. 😉

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