2009 Campus Technology Innovators: ePortfolios
- By Mary Grush, Matt Villano
THANKS TO FIT's ePortfolio program, faculty and administrative staff no longer
need to work overtime to evaluate prospective student portfolios-- and that
saves budget dollars, reveals project lead Reuben Marcus.
Innovator: Fashion Institute of Technology
FIT's prospective art and design students now can
submit their entire portfolios online, and have their work
accepted, reviewed, evaluated, and graded in minimal
time, simplifying the admissions process.
At Fashion Institute of Technology (NY), a key part of the
admissions process is the review of a prospective student's
collection of art-related work, be it fashion apparel, illustration,
photography, fine arts, computer graphics, jewelry, or other
pieces. In the past, FIT applicants were required to bring in or
send physical copies of their portfolios to the school's Admissions
office. Faculty members often would need to come to
school on weekends to evaluate the portfolios-- a lengthy
process-- and students' materials would never be returned.
Some applicants also had to visit the school for interviews and
admissions process has
saved big bucks in utilities
costs as well as faculty and
Thanks to the implementation of a new Admissions ePortfolio
system in early 2008, however, applicants now can submit
their work over the internet. The system sends an e-mail
acknowledgment of receipt of the portfolio to the applicant,
provides for online evaluation and grading by faculty, and
updates applicants' records in the school's SunGard Banner
student information system, all electronically.
"There are other colleges that have electronic portfolio systems
for their applicant or student constituents, but they are
mostly used to display and showcase their students' collections
of work and accomplishments," says project lead
Reuben Marcus, FIT's manager of portal and web services.
FIT's ePortfolio system is not designed to display or showcase
an applicant's work, but rather to operate as a seamless, automated
system whereby prospective students can have their
work accepted, reviewed, evaluated, and graded in minimum
time, streamlining the admissions process.
The system runs on the Xythos Web File System Platform
(Xythos has since been acquired by Blackboard), and integrates
with content management technology from SunGard as well as
the school's student information system. Oracle's Application
Server 10g runs the Xythos back-end database, the ePortfolio
application runs on Sun servers, and external storage for the
ePortfolios is handled by an IBM DS4200 disk storage system.
Behind the scenes, the initiative was a collaborative effort
involving individuals from various departments, including:
Marcus, Joseph Lucca, Alison O'Connor, Ellen Medins, Judith
Duncan-Allen, Sandra Braxton, Subah Sachdeva, Deborah
Golopol, Noreen Kentish, Angus Dickson, Mona Patel, Bryan
Gucwa, Andrew Lacoff, Gregg Chottiner, Van Buren Winston,
Joanne Arbuckle, and Erika Muhammad, as well as team members
from Technology Development, Communication Design,
Fashion Design, Photography, and Admissions. (A full list of project
team members and their respective departments can be
During the project's beta rollout, about 300 applicants
logged on to the new system; a total of 125 of them actually
submitted their portfolios online. As expected, the technology has transformed admissions to the School of Art and Design,
making the process quicker, more traceable, and more efficient.
The program also has saved the institution big bucks,
both in utilities costs
and in compensation
expense for faculty and
administrative staff who
no longer need to work
overtime to evaluate
portfolios. Of course,
the system saves
prospective students money in packaging and postage, and
since some no longer have to fly to New York City for face-toface
interviews and in-person portfolio assessments, transportation
and lodging savings are significant as well.
FIT's burgeoning ePortfolio program currently is in release
phase and is operational for three majors: Fashion Design,
Communication Design, and Photography. Eventually, Marcus
says FIT plans to expand the program and roll it out to all 14
majors at the school.
Mary Grush is Editor and Conference Program Director, Campus Technology.
Matt Villano is senior contributing editor of this publication.