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The long game of portfolios

Posted on: February 3, 2016

Today I reflect on an accidental lesson from a child about building an e-portfolio.

This is a screenshot of part of my son’s village in Clash of Clans. It features the four different types of Christmas trees from four different years.

Screenshot of Clash of Clans showing four different types of Christmas trees collected over four years.

We have been playing the game since 2012 (when the game was first released). That is probably an eternity to play any mobile video game.

When I say we, I mean still mostly me. In game-speak, I am in farming mode and maintain both our villages because he has moved on to other games. However, he is very protective of the Christmas trees in his village.

These special trees only appear over each Christmas period and are obstacles that can be cleared at some cost but for greater benefit. The cleared area also provides more space for your village. But my son has been insistent that I do not clear his Christmas trees.

For most players, the trees (and other objects like rocks, bushes, and other things that sprout) are obstacles and eye-sores that bear hidden rewards. For my son, the Christmas trees are rewards in themselves.

The artefacts that we include in our portfolios can serve the same purposes. We can put them there because we expect them to provide dividends later (e.g., to impress during a job interview) or we can take pride simply in the process and product of the work.

The four different kinds of trees are evidence that he is a veteran of the game. They could be viewed as collectables or as badges of honour for persistence, patience, and planning.

The artefacts in a portfolio can be souvenirs of an on-going journey and they can be evidence of change and growth.

Not clearing the trees takes some willpower and discipline. A few of my son’s friends say he bought those Christmas trees even though there is no way to do this in the game.

Maintaining a portfolio takes planning and consistent effort. Others may challenge you, but if you have the artefacts and good stories, you have evidence on your side.

Clash of Clans does not require you to play the long game. There are many abandoned villages that other players will loot. It is just as easy to let go of an e-portfolio. But if you want the portfolio to be a platform for lifelong and lifewide learning, you need to learn to play the long game.

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