Edentity: Personal Learning Networks and e
Portfolios is a curriculum aimed at helping undergraduate university students begin to develop and maintain their digital identity. The curriculum includes sample exercises and assignments, an extensive bibliography, and an instructor guide. 

Free to use

These materials are freely available on this website via a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial 2.0 license. Instructors, you may also request a version of these materials copied forward as a Moodle course.

Philosophy and pedagogy

In today’s academic environment, learners can be in much more control of the learning they do. The “Edentity: Personal Learning Networks and ePortfolios” project brings together two powerful tools to enhance student learning and empower learners.

The tutorials here provide instruction and guidance for learners to create an electronic portfolio of finished work that demonstrates key abilities and activities critical to their respective major programs of study. The tutorials also encourage learners to develop a unique articulation of a Personal Learning Network (PLN) that allows them to find, evaluate, manage, create and share information among a network of people and resources relevant to their program of study and intended professional career.

PLNs and ePortfolios allow learners to document and demonstrate what they have learned in coursework, internships and extracurricular activities. Because ePortfolios and PLNs are created using digital tools, they also demonstrate learners’ digital literacy skills. Together, ePortfolios and PLNs are tangible expressions of each learner’s evolving academic and professional identity and capacities for lifelong learning and networking. The tutorials include information about how to maintain and continue to add to their ePortfolio and PLN long after students complete their “formal” education.

Several of the tutorials are intended for faculty who would like to incorporate the creation of ePortfolios and/or PLNs into their coursework. Sample exercises and assignments are included, along with an extensive bibliography of academic and professional literature that expands on the pedagogy and purpose of having students develop these tools in higher education.


The project represents the work of faculty, graduate students and staff in the University of Minnesota’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, the Department of Writing Studies and the College of Liberal Arts and University of Minnesota Offices of Information Technology. 

Funding and support

These tutorials were created with funding and support from the University of Minnesota’s Office of the Senior Vice President and Provost, which sponsored a University-wide competitive grant process for “Enhancement of Academic Programs Using Digital Technology” in 2013-14.

Kathleen A. Hansen

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Kathleen A. Hansen, M.L.S., M.A., is Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication (SJMC) at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. She began developing and assigning computer-assisted instruction modules for students in her courses in 1984. Her research and teaching has focused on the use of information technologies for and by mass communication professionals. She spearheaded the SJMC’s efforts to develop methods and tools for ongoing assessment of undergraduate student learning. Hansen was the Lead Contact for the 2013-14 “Enhancement of Academic Programs Using Digital Technology” grant from the Office of the Senior Vice President and Provost that provided the funding to develop this project. In her spare time, Hansen is an avid scuba diver and has been dubbed the “squid whisperer” by her dive buddies.

Lee-Ann Kastman Breuch

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Lee-Ann Kastman Breuch, Ph.D., is Associate Professor in the Department of Writing Studies at the University of Minnesota, where she is Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Bachelor of Science degree in Technical Writing and Communication. Her research and teaching focus on writers in action and the texts they produce, whether in the workplace, university, or in writing groups. She has been designing online instructional environments since 2000, when she was director of the (former) Online Writing Center at University of Minnesota, and she is currently an expert panelist for the CCCC Committee on Best Practices for Online Writing Instruction. She has authored articles, book chapters, and books on digital writing, and has received many grants to work on instructional projects involving digital writing (most recently WRIT VID). Once voted the “most organized person” in her school, Breuch has taken organization to a new level in this project by learning how “taxonomies” work in web development.

Ann Hill Duin

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Ann Hill Duin, Ph.D., is Professor in the Department of Writing Studies at the University of Minnesota, where she is Director of the Certificate and Master of Science programs in Scientific and Technical Communication. Her research and teaching focus on information design, international professional communication, and personal learning networks. Having pioneered the University’s first online course at the graduate level, she continues to study the impact of emerging technologies – including networked learning and wearables – on the future of teaching/learning and higher education. Having served in senior administrative roles including Vice Provost and Associate Vice President for Information Technology, she has a “students first” philosophy, and her ongoing goal is to serve as a catalyst for creating the future of the academy.

William Dunder

William Dunder is a 2014 M.A. graduate of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication (SJMC) at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities. He earned his bachelor's degree in fine arts from Beloit College. Dunder has experience with the integration of photography, video, and technology in educational settings. He works as a freelance photographer and video producer, and he has a keen eye for organization and presentation of multimedia materials. He brings creative expertise to the Edentity team.

Marissa Ellingson

Marissa Ellingson is a Masters student in the Department of Writing Studies at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. She is currently pursuing an MS in Scientific and Technical Communication with an emphasis in Human Factors. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of St. Thomas in Art History and English and began working in technology after graduation. She is interested in combining her passion for writing and technology to help facilitate learning and development. In her spare time, Marissa enjoys spending time with friends and family, attending concerts and traveling.

Natalie C. Olsen

Natalie C. Olsen is a 2014 Ph.D. graduate of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication (SJMC) at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities. She earned her master's degree in mass communication at the SJMC, and her bachelor's degree at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, with majors in communication arts and legal studies. Her research focuses on digital technologies, community, and identity, and their relationship with the mass media industries, audiences, and a democratic society. When she is not busy researching and teaching, Natalie enjoys spending time outside with her dog, going to concerts, and scuba diving with her family.

Whitney O. Walther

Whitney O. Walther is a Ph. D. student in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication (SJMC) at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from The Ohio State University in strategic communication and mass communication respectively. Her research focuses on the media effects from a psychological perspective. Specifically, Walther is interested in narrative persuasion, entertainment, emotions, and the use of new methods in a changing media environment. Furthermore, Walther is also interested in developing new methods for education in a dynamic learning environment. When Walther is not working on research or teaching, she enjoys waterskiing. She was on The Ohio State University’s National Championship team in 2010.