Back in the pre-digital days, students had a very simple way to organize class materials and homework: the humble Pee-Chee folder. Decorated with images of athletic high-school kids doing their thing and jazzy mid-century graphics, kids all over the country would add to these their own doodles, artwork and, occasionally, profanities. At the beginning of each school term, I would get a Pee-Chee folder for each subject, a real-life confirmation of the Pee-Chee slogan: All-Season Portfolio. I would immediatly set to work personalizing my Pee-Chees, filling out the forms on the inside pockets and labeling them according to each subject.  Being a naturally tidy person, my Pee-Chees were always a case study in organization and structure. But for the vast majority of my fellow students, the Pee-Chee was akin to a punching bag, and by the end of terms they'd typically be tattered, torn and nearly unrecognizable. Still: they got the job done.

 

Proving there are no wholly original ideas, Pathbrite Portfolios follow in the noble path blazed by Pee-Chee 50 years before. Some things are the same: students can still organize their course materials and homework -- all digital now -- in their free Pathbrite Portfolios. They can even customize them to reflect their own personalities, though we put a few limits in place to ensure there are no ugly portfolios. But there are notable differences, too. For instance, a Pathbrite Portfolio will stay with a student for a lifetime. Also, with Pathbrite, students can aggregate and curate any sort of digital artifact from any source, including photos, video, documents from MS or Google, official transcripts -- anything, really. Pathbrite Portfolios also enable and encourage students to collaborate with fellow students, instructors, career counselors and advisors.

And as a students begin to prepare for entry into the workforce, they can create professional Pathbrite Portfolios that highlight all the ways they are qualified for work that go well beyond a traditional résumé. Employers are better able to determine a recent graduate's "fit and finish" for any given opportunity by assessing work and internship history, relevant academic projects, volunteer work and extra curricular activities. Common résumés tend to focus on one or two dimensions of a person, whereas a portfolio presents people in 3-D, helping them to differentiate themselves in a competitive job market and stand out from the crowd.

While the humble Pee-Chee is an honored forebear, 21st century portfolios have a lot more to offer and deliver far greater impact. Still, I do miss the doodling.