On Aug. 28, the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students announced a partnership with Portfolium, a professional social networking platform that allows undergraduates to create an online co-curricular and extracurricular profile within the University community. The profiles were made available to all sophomores, juniors, and seniors the following day.
As of Monday afternoon, over 685 students have already registered and created an account. The service will be rolled out to first-years sometime this week.
According to Claire Pinciaro ’13, the Leadership Program Coordinator at ODUS, this centralized digital platform can track co-curricular involvements and allow individuals to “reflect upon experiences outside of the classroom, and search and connect with other Princeton students to learn more about the myriad co-curricular opportunities that are available at Princeton.”
With the verified Princeton Leadership Profile to which all undergraduates are granted access, students will join a network where only currently enrolled University undergraduate students can view each other’s accounts. Through this, students will be able to certify and verify updated lists of involvement in various student organizations.
“One of the best parts of Princeton is that there is a robust network as an undergraduate [and as] an alum,” said Deputy Dean of Undergraduate Students Thomas Dunne.
“However, there is no organized way of knowing [all the people] in dance groups and ensembles,” he pointed out. “There's [more] than just the president and treasurer. We think that there is value within the network to learn more about [groups] and the people,” he said.
This online platform and directory has been something that students have expressed an interest in as early as 2011. Although many other schools offer co-curricular and extracurricular transcripts, the University wanted something that fit specifically in its own co-curricular realm.
Several peer institutions use Portfolium as a platform primarily to communicate co-curricular activities to employers, but Dunne stressed that the University is the only school where the exact purpose of the platform is designed for internal use in leadership and not for job-seeking purposes.
Although Portfolium itself allows users and institutions to connect with employers, the exclusive network ensures that outside individuals do not have access to student profiles, a feature unique to Princeton.
“The idea is to have a closed network where students can search the profiles of one another [that is] not open to the larger Portfolium network,” explained Pinciaro.
Dunne explained that the University doesn't want students to think about their co-curricular activities solely in a transactional way. The University chose to partner with an existing company instead of developing their own software because the latter would have been a much riskier, more cost and time-consuming process, according to Dunne.
Portfolium is intended to serve as an extension or enhancement of Tigerbook, the school’s online student directory.
“It’s similar to this, but [Portfolium] has more points of information that students can self-report,” Dunne said. “When we were developing this project, we thought about the way students engage with Tigerbook, but with more than just baseline directory information and photos,” he said. All students are in control of what they choose to report in their profiles.
“We’re interested in leadership and also recognize that leadership is not just about a title,” added Pinciaro. “You can elaborate a bit more to broaden the scope of what exactly leadership means in your group, at Princeton, and more broadly,” he said.
This online platform also seeks to resolve the dearth of representation in the member lists of some groups that are submitted to ODUS. Often these lists are not regularly updated and do not necessarily reflect the dynamic nature of members entering and leaving throughout the year. However, the University still wanted to avoid bureaucratically mandating an updated directory or roster, as some institutions require, and instead, emphasized this as an individual choice.
The Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students is observing how students utilize and engage with the platform during the pilot year. By collecting and analyzing qualitative and quantitative feedback from students, the University plans to make adjustments and modifications as necessary.