Projects Underway

SUNYport: Portfolio site for SUNY students

Mark Ludwig

Project Team
  • A. Ben Wagner, SUNY Buffalo
  • Dean Hendrix, SUNY Buffalo
  • Andrew Perry, SUNY Oneonta

Buffalo, University at


Tier Two

Project Abstract:

Open access scholarly communication and collaborative research have become a vital characteristic of university and college academic endeavor. Raising awareness about traditional publishing, copyright, digital rights management and the benefits of openly sharing data and research through Creative Commons licensing is critical for emerging scholars. Students should understand the potential of collaborative work and understand technology that supports and fosters it.

We are proposing a project which will establish a SUNY instance of VIVO, connected with an Institutional Repository to serve as an integrated platform. This system will have a dual purpose. First, it will support scholarly communication education and provide students with an initial opportunity to openly publish work on the Internet. Second, the resulting platform will serve as an on-going e-portfolio site for SUNY students.

The project will include live seminars, webinars and video presentations to raise student awareness, and develop interest in online publishing. The actual student content generated will serve students going forward. As an online space for their vita and work, SUNYport will help establish professional identities and serve our students when seeking employment, promotion and success in their field. While there are many e-portfolio sites on the Internet, this site would have the SUNY brand and carry a more meaningful message for prospective employers. VIVO is an open-source system for showcasing information about people, research projects, publications, and academic departments. It was developed at Cornell University and further developed through grants by a consortium of major Universities. It displays academic achievements at the institutional level and at the individual faculty level. VIVO uses an architecture based on well-defined ontologies for consistent, standard data input. Some institutions feed their VIVO systems from other campus systems of record. VIVO was designed to be similar to Facebook, where the online system is used by many people with a direct interest in the contents. Some institutions have used VIVO for faculty directory information and faculty research information. We are proposing student use and expect students will be motivated to enter their own information as they would on a social networking site. The educational component of the project will be critical for student motivation and enhancing their ease-of-use. Along with the VIVO system as a front door, we are proposing the use of institutional repositories for permanent deposit and preservation of work. UB has a repository known as UBIR and SUNY operates the SUNY DIgital Repository. These are DSpace based systems. DSpace is open source software developed by MIT and supported by a consortial non-profit organization. It is used by over 500 educational and professional institutions worldwide. Part of the project would integrate the storage of student work into appropriate collections in the appropriate repositories. This should also boost the visibility and the collection content of the SUNY and UB repositories, further supporting academic collaboration.

Learning Commons
As part of the project, we will study potential interfaces and connections to the SUNY Learning Commons. The Learning Commons has student profiles and some internal social networking capabilities. This new platform would have the additional functionality of storing work, uploading it to a permanent repository. With an assertive and well crafted educational component, we will drive students into the system and build success stories that will increase usage through social networking.

Peer institutions
This is also an opportunity for SUNY to match some student services already in place at other institutions, public and private. Penn State, University of Delaware, Northeastern, University of Minnesota, Boston University-- these are just some of the schools prominently offering the e-portfolio service for their students. One institution even has faculty review of student content and requires students to create a portfolio for graduation. A recent article cited statistics showing over 50% of US academic institutions offer online student portfolios, especially for certain academic departments in fields where physical portfolios were once required.

Descriptive statistics and web analytics serve as metrics for system usage. Volume of actual content submitted to the repositories is an objective measure of usage. As part of the project we will also send an online survey to students requesting feedback. We will measure how much student input is received as well as browser traffic on the website.

This project will require membership in the VIVO users group. This is a consortium of academic institutions advancing the product, including Cornell University and University of Florida. DSpace support comes through the DSpace user group and its attendant Duraspace technicians. We expect to partner with SUNY OLIS regarding repository collections and interfaces. Initially, two or three SUNY campuses (Oneonta, UB North and UB South) will participate and therefor 'partner' for testing the system.

1. We will produce a final report about the effectiveness of VIVO and DSpace as a platform for student eportfolios. It will analyze the prospects for expanding the system to all SUNY students.
2. We will produce videos of seminars, webinars and training covering scholarly collaboration and open access as well as the mechanics of making open repository submissions.
3. We will produce a supported and operational VIVO instance for student e-portfolios.

Ultimately, the project seeks to convince SUNY students that e-portfolios are useful and that submitting work for open access and potential collaboration is healthy for their professional careers.

Project Outcome:

A pilot website and final report describe the potential for VIVO as an e-Portfolio solution, which was ultimately not adopted.