Digital Portfolio


Digital Portfolio® and Presentation.

Dr. Jolanta Wawrzycka
CHBS Building 4117. E-mail:

DIGITAL PORTFOLIO in my courses consists of a folder that houses all documents and files that you create and collect while researching and designing your course presentation.

**Digital Portfolio has to include:

• Prezi, Keynote, or PowerPoint presentation;

• Folder with Images: relevant visual materials such as thematic archival photographs,
  book covers, maps, etc.

• Thematic audio/video clips (links to media placed on slides) are strongly encouraged as
  content enhancements, especially if they are recordings of poems, videos of readings, or
  interviews with authors.

• Works Cited and Works Consulted in MLA style.

• Research Log.

**Research Log - an informal, slide-by-slide (or frame-by-frame) document that describes the content of your presentation and your research and design process. In your Research Log, you are asked to:

State the purpose for each slide (or group of slides): this will help you with organization  

  and flow of presentation’s content.

Give clear information about how you are using your sources: what is paraphrased? what is  
  quoted?; this will guard you against plagiarism.

Explain your choices of slide content, design, images, etc.; this will help you avoid
  superfluous visuals and trivia.

Add comments about your revisions, sources, etc. Your Research Log may end up being
  10+ single-spaced pages of informal writing. I will gladly read them all because for me as a
  teacher, they offer invaluable insights into your engagement with research and revisions, as
  well as into your creativity. (Sample Log).

**Opening Slide/Frame: your name, course, semester, date and title of your presentation.

As you work on your presentation:

  1. *Keep your Research Log file open in the dock so you can paste the URLs and record in detail how & why your sources are being used (sometimes it’s difficult to retrace your steps on line so keep track of your findings as you work). 

  2. *Saving images: right click on them and save them to your “Images” folder in your Digital Portfolio.

Reminders about Research and Sources:

THE INTERNET MATERIAL is NOT YOURS: you cannot just copy & paste information into your documents. That is plagiarism, an offense with grave consequences. Check here how to avoid it; also, please, consult the Honor Code statement in class syllabus and all appropriate sections in your Student Handbook. The hardest part of each semester for me is to file academic dishonesty charges against students who plagiarize.


MATERIAL in BOOKS and ARTICLES is not yours either (and you have to use the printed matter; the Internet is not enough).  My students pointed out that some Internet sources are very unstable or not valid: "I found information in books that was totally different on websites. If I hadn't done extensive research from books, I wouldn't have caught these errors." Make sure that the class textbooks, course packs and library books/journals are a prominent part of your Works Cited and Works Consulted documents; here are some simple rules to follow:

start with your course textbooks (points off if you do not use them); 

use library books, articles, videos (there is a Library Research Award to compete for!)

limit your Internet research images, maps and links to media. 

Some students have cited their sources on each slide: it is a good way to keep track of your sources and to show to the whole class all the research you have done.  HOWEVER, in my courses, I ask you to put your sources in your Research Log (as you describe each slide).


Your presentation opening slide(s)/frame(s) should include your name, course, semester, date and presentation title. In literature courses, continue with biographical slides/frames that discuss your authors’ education, travel, achievements, books, awards, etc. In critical theory classes, focus more on your author’s achievements in terms of books and critical/theoretical concepts s/he introduced.

Further suggestions on Presentation Content, Design, Length and Delivery.

Presentation Content:

CONTENT 1: Life & Historical Background. Generally, you are asked to research the life and work of an author and present his/her profile in historical context. Whereas dates are obviously important, they can be quite abstract. For example, Boccaccio lived between 1313-1375 C. E., but a reference to Black Death and its effects on Europe will highlight the time period more effectively; Aristotle lived between 384-322 B. C. E, but the mention of Alexander the Great makes the time period a little more "tangible;" a Nobel Prize Laureate may be from Sardinia: locate it and put its culture in the context of the 20th-C world. In other words, if your presentation about a writer makes references to generally known historical events and/or historical figures, elaborate on them: your classmates will pay attention because they will share common knowledge with you. (As one student put it, "Basic facts--boring. Spice it up!").

CONTENT 2: Author's Work. In addition to listing works by the author, you are also asked to select one work (usually listed in course syllabus) and present it in greater detail; please consult with me if you need help. You can also watch a video/DVD program about your author and/or an adaptation of his/her work. YouTube has trailers, interviews, etc., so please link to them to enhance your presentation by showing a brief selection to the class.

CONTENT 3Dates vs. Age.  Dates are abstract and often meaningless: try to add the age of your writer as you take your audience through the events of his/her life. For instance, you can say that Christine de Pizan, a mother of three, became a widow in 1390, but adding that she was only 25 puts her widowhood in perspective; Kafka died in 1924, but when you add that he was only 41, that makes an impact; Sigrid Undset received her Nobel Prize for Literature in 1928, but stressing that she was only 46 old adds weight to her achievement.

CONTENT 4Quotations. DO use poems and other quotations to demonstrate writer's style or theme(s) of his/her work.  But just putting quotations on the slides is not enough: remember to read them out loud to/with your audience and explain why you are quoting and what each quotation means in the context of your presentation.
: Too much text on slides is, well, too much, especially if you bullet your information and crowd the slides with words words words... In my lecture programs I demonstrate how to balance words with relevant images using text boxes and animation for a better flow of content. Too few words on the slides will make your slides obsolete. Good rule to follow: imagine that you will have to make a handout of your PPt to serve as a study guide (this is also a good practice before you become a teacher, a sales' rep, a lawyer, etc.).

SPELLING: Please, double- and triple-check it!  Some students said that "there is absolutely no excuse for typos" because there are spell- and grammar check." They suggested taking points off for spelling errors and I do so.


IMAGES 1: Sources of Images: Since you will be copying images from websites (book covers, pictures of authors, photos of the places they lived, etc.), you are required to note the source of those images in your Research Log.  And do not distort your images (points off if you do) by stretching them sideways or vertically -- to enlarge them, drag them by the corner.  For scanned images--see below, # 5).

Images 2: Not enough pictures available for your author/topic? Re-use those few images that you did find by placing them on more that one slide or using them as a background for a series of slides. Consider also including "generic" pictures of French (or Russian, etc.) countryside for a French (or Russian, etc.) writer. Maps are always good visuals: show us where your writer was born and where s/he had traveled, studied, died...

Images 3: Thematic Images. A rule of thumb is -- use a picture that fits thematically and historically with your topic and that serves a purpose. For example, find images of antiquity for the Ancient Greeks; or pictures of the cities where writers were born, studied or lived; or artistic renditions of Don Quixote's ordeals, etc. Clipart of a train won't work for Aristotle's travels; clipart of a businessman won't work for Plato and his opening of the Academy, nor will a clip from a TV wrestling show work to illustrate Don Quixote's fight with windmills! And, no, I didn't make up these examples!  

Images 4: If you have to use clip art (an oxymoron, really), use it wisely and very sporadically, or you risk trivializing your topic and distracting your audience from the depth of your presentation. You will be wise to resist trying to bank in on the "entertainment" value of your images, though used judiciously, clipart can be funny and provide a perfect "punch" to a given slide.  My students add that clip art can be too generic; we all grow tired of seeing the same images on everyone's slides.  Others think that clip art can "ruin the whole slide by making it look cheesy." I agree.

Images 5: Scanned Images. If you scan images from books used for your research, please, remember to note the sources in your Works Cited and to elaborate on those images in your Research Log).

                                              Presentation Design & Delivery:

FORMAT / DESIGN: Templates vs. Custom Slides. You have an option to use templates or can also format your own slides or Prezi frames. If you do the latter (which is what I do), choose "eye-friendly" contrasting colors (white or very pale-colored letters on a dark background or vice versa). Contrasts to avoid: royal blue letters on fuchsia background, yellow on lime-green, or any such extremes.

FONTFont size is important: use larger rather than smaller size, so your content is visible from the last row of a large classroom. If you are using a special, imported font, be aware that it won't show on RU computers or on my Mac: Keynote/PowerPoint program will go into a default font (Arial). Solution? Present from your own computer plugged into the podium (Mac users will need an adapter - please, talk to me in advance). Also, make sure that you place your fonts in a separate folder to be included in your Digital Portfolio (I will install your font(s) on my computer - otherwise I will not be able to view your program properly). 

MEDIA: audio/video clips, links to YouTube or iTunes: My former students suggest that you should make every effort to use media, including links to on-line sources. As you will see, I use media in my digital lectures as thematic enhancements. Think of a national anthem for a writer's country; an audio clip of a poem; a fragment of an interview: media add quality to your presentation and enhance the scope of your research.

DELIVERY and LENGTH: Depending on a course, you will need to time your presentation to last about 10 min, 15 min, or 20-25 min.

Note on delivery:

Remember that you are talking to the class and not to the computer podium.
Practice and practice and practice your delivery and your timing; you can set the slide content to unfold automatically for a better pace if you want to avoid moving to the next slide/frame too soon.  If you click too soon, however, stay cool: you can either go on or you can return to the previous slide if you choose. 
Practice your PRONUNCIATION of unfamiliar English words and of foreign names/words (you can come by my office and we will practice together).
Avoid reading your slides to the class from the screen; make sure that you are familiar with the content and have notes to help you out with your delivery.
Avoid, while you talk, pointing out your "mistakes:" chances are nobody will notice anything wrong until you tell them. And you might want to get that cursor off the screen: using a cursor as a pointer is very distracting.

TEAM PRESENTATIONS: If you are paired up for your presentation, please see me for more detailed instructions and suggestions.

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