Best Practices for Connecting Classes to Careers

Bringing Best Practices to Life: Competency Based Learning at the University of Michigan’s School of Social Work

Seelio Best Practice: Define explicit learning outcomes at the beginning of the student experience so that students know from the beginning what they are working toward and can recognize and document mastery of skills along the way.

University of Michigan's School of Social Work on Seelio

We’ve seen this best practice along with many others in our work with the University of Michigan’s School of Social Work (UM SSW). Mary Ruffolo, Ph.D., a UM SSW Professor and Director of the Continuing Education Program, has been using Seelio in her classes for over a year and has invited us into the process of exploring how portfolios can impact student confidence in connecting learning experiences to career goals.

Last summer, we collaborated with Mary to develop a web-based course that UM SSW graduate students could take to build a professional online portfolio to demonstrate the 13 core competencies they develop throughout their master of social work program at UM SSW. The 1-credit web-based course employs online modules, virtual meetings, and virtual group work to support students in developing an integrative learning portfolio.

The course curriculum explicitly focuses on helping students identify their professional goals and develop adaptive expertise, or the ability to draw connections between their studies and experiences as a professional social worker. With self-paced reflective activities, students are challenged to reflect on their key learning experiences, their top skills, and how they want to present those experiences in their upcoming job search. Group feedback through virtual meetings as well as community features on Seelio like comments, likes, and private messages, allow students to share their experiences and gain valuable insights from their peers and advisors.

Validating Our Hypothesis on the Impact of Portfolios on Student Confidence

We hypothesized that this combination of competency-based learning, reflection, and portfolio development would increase students’ confidence in their ability to articulate skills and learning experiences in a professional context. Two rounds of pre- and post-surveys of participating students validated our hypothesis–  students reported increased confidence and optimism in their professional development and their ability to apply competencies from their degree program to their future as social work professionals.

Specifically, across two semesters, students in the web-based course showed significant gains in their:

  • comfort applying facts, theories, or methods to practical problems or new situations (p=.0001);
  • confidence articulating their goals (p=.018) and key learning experiences (p=.049); and
  • confidence presenting their work to potential employers (p=.009).

Hear From Students & Learn More About Our Process

Two students recorded brief video segments to share more about their experience in the course. See what Aaron and Katie had to say. You can also find more details about the course and our work with UM SSW in a presentation we gave at the Online Learning Consortium’s Annual Meeting last October:

At Seelio, we apply these same best practices in our portfolio implementations across our partner programs, collaborating with faculty to identify the best fit for their courses and measuring and evaluating progress at each step along the way. At the end of the day, our goal is to empower students like Aaron and Katie to confidently pursue their professional goals with a digital identity that allows them to easily showcase their 21st century skills.

Learn more about our best practices here, and see examples from UM SSW students in the UM SSW Seelio Showcase.

Seelio Now Available to All Students at The University of Toledo

We’re excited to announce that The University of Toledo (UT) has launched Seelio campus-wide!

Last year, the University of Toledo partnered with Seelio to bring its technology and services to the Jesup Scott Honors College and College of Communication and the Arts for faculty members to incorporate portfolios into their classrooms and for students to have a place to document their experiential learning. Deans, students, and faculty members embraced it, leading to this month’s enterprise agreement. See some of their feedback along the way:

Quote from Dr. Lakeesha Ransom, Dean of the Jesup Scott Honors College Quote from UT student, Abigail Dudek Quote from Debra Davis, Dean of College of Communication and the Arts Quote from UT student, Caroline Jardine

Quote from UT Faculty Member David Strukel

As an enterprise campus with Seelio, The University of Toledo gains access to data visualization tools, learning management and student information system integrations, a dedicated UT community on Seelio, as well as dedicated service support for portfolio implementation across all colleges.

Now, every student at The University of Toledo can access special community features and faculty across colleges can work with Seelio’s Educational Service Team to integrate Seelio into their courses. UT students and faculty can get started by visiting utoledo.seelio.com.

To learn more about how The University of Toledo expanded Seelio’s student lifecycle portfolios from two colleges to an entire campus, request a copy of our case study:


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Considering Using Social Media With Students? Read this.

Seelio Ed Tips

Tips from an Educator on How (and Why) to Use Social Media With Students

Understandably, using social media with students can feel a little overwhelming, but could it ultimately improve student engagement and letter grades? In this interview we talk to an educator who is embracing social media in classes to tackle some of the big questions like why? what if it goes wrong? what good will it do? and where do i start? — and proving that by taking them on, there can be great benefits for both faculty members and students.

Our guest, Nick Bowman, an Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at West Virginia University isn’t new the idea of using social media with students in the classroom. With a Ph.D. in communication from Michigan State University and over a decade of teaching experience, social media and technology in the classroom have been core elements of his teaching philosophy. He regularly has great advice to share, including an upcoming panel on the social classroom at SXSWedu, and he catalogues many examples of how he is using social media with students in his portfolio on Seelio. Read on (or bookmark this treasure trove of info) to get practical advice and tips for a social classroom.

Want to join the conversation? Chime in on Twitter mentioning @bowmanspartan @seelio and #socialprof!

Screenshot of Nick's portfolio with class prompts and resources

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