Friday, September 16, 2011

Getting going with CMALT

Since I've just written up some advice about starting CMALT for another audience... I thought I might be lazy and turn it into a blog posting too. Here goes...

If you're trying to make a start on your CMALT portfolio then there are a few basic hurdles to jump first. 

Hurdle 1. Making up your mind to do it!
I first looked at CMALT several years before I did anything about applying. Why, I don't know - but it sat in the background for a very long time and it was only once I actually made up my mind that I was going to do it... and gave myself a time frame to complete it by... that I made a start.  

Hurdle 2. Deciding how you're going to present your portfolio.
What portfolio will you use? Now, while it really is a free choice for you (and if you have something you'd rather use, provided it can be accessed by the assessor, then whatever would be fine), if you want a quick start then the Google Sites template I created a while back should kick start things. There's a YouTube video on how to use it at and once you've done that, you can use Google Sites - either from your own Google account or from within Google Apps if that's available at your institution - to create the basic outline, complete with instructions on each of the the requirements. 

Hurdle 3. Starting to write it once the framework is in place
I found that completing the basic stuff got me going... then I put a single sentence for each section which captured the essence of what I might cover just as a place marker and to get me thinking about what might be needed for my description / reflection. Even if I didn't end up writing about the thing I first thought I would, this really helped me move forwards with the process of getting it completed. 

Hurdle 4. Gathering evidence
Now, some of this is made easier by the 'right' choice of description. Don't write about stuff from 5+ years ago because a) the relevance would be questionable unless included for a very specific reason (i.e. a qualification) and b) getting the evidence after that gap is very hard! Make smart choices with step 3, and step 4 is easier. 

Hurdle 5. Getting feedback.
I didn't have anyone else at my previous university who'd done CMALT so had no opportunity for feedback at all* - but I really would have appreciated it. To get around that, I gave some friends from other institutions the address of my portfolio and asked (begged!) them to take a look for me. This gave me confidence and helped me make the tweaks before I submitted it. Alternatively, sharing the address of your portfolio with colleagues internally would also be helpful, as would 'buddying up' with someone to work on it together. The more visible your portfolio is, the more obliged you feel to get something done! If it can be hidden and forgotten... it is hidden and forgotten! 

Hope those give you a bit of a help with getting started! Oh, and if you want to see an example of a complete CMALT portfolio, then mine is online at It's not the best, it's not the worst - but it did pass, so for what it's worth... it's open and shared!

* There is a CrowdVine CMALT site which you can access once you register for CMALT, but since a lot of people get started before they're registered, feedback can still be tricky!
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