Behance is a digital portfolio system that is popular among artists. This makes it ideal for visual art students to develop their professional resumes for use after graduation. But portfolios have many uses beyond displaying work for business; they can also be used as teaching devices. Many faculty use the traditional research paper to assess student learning. While a text assignment certainly has its place, the world has transitioned from pure text to a more visual communication format that combines text with images, videos, and graphics. The internet is the first place we go to find information, and how many websites are nothing but text? Being able to communicate persuasively today requires not only good writing skills but also the ability to integrate text with other media to capture an audience’s attention and amplify a message.
This is where Behance comes in. The free platform from Adobe is a powerful, easy-to-use device for students to develop multimedia assignments. If students are presenting the results of a lab experiment, they can record audio of themselves discussing the experiment or include a video of what they did. If discussing the beliefs of a philosopher they are studying, they can illustrate those beliefs with images, videos, and other media.
Behance is also good for initiating the self-reflection that is critical to deep learning. As teachers we would like to think that students reflect on their errors in order to fix them when they get assignments back, but often we don’t provide an opportunity for reflection. Students normally submit their assignments, get a grade, and immediately think about the next assignment. Faculty can provide deeper learning by having students gather their work together into unifying themes and providing commentary on their performance and growth in understanding.
Among available portfolio systems, Behance stands out for its modern look and functionality. Instead of gathering page links in a menu, Behance displays the portfolio on a single page that opens up new elements as the user scrolls down. This makes it more attractive than the older-style webpages.
This presentation also makes Behance more appealing for leading the viewer through a topic than traditional websites, where the navigation menu turns the site into more of a newspaper that someone bounces around to look at different articles in a random order. That makes for a disjointed presentation if the site is designed to guide the user through a topic. Behance allows the creator to present content in a specific order to give it coherence.
Adobe, which owns Behance, has also incorporated a number of social networking features into the platform that make it easier for the creator to share work with others and collaborate on project development. Student-creators can thus use the platform to develop an audience outside of class. Viewers can follow their favorite creators and give kudos for good work. Creators can track views and appreciation to monitor the growth of their name.
Behance users can create as many projects as they wish at no cost. They can also group projects together into Moodboards, also free, which are categories of projects. This allows students to group projects by type, which can be helpful when they are being assessed by outside reviewers.
One interesting feature of Behance is Livestreams, which are live video streams of a creator presenting an idea. A number of creators have developed ongoing shows using this function. Students can use this feature to start building their name in their field even before leaving school. Like a videoconferencing system, the host can see who is tuning in and take questions from the viewers. The video format is well designed for presentations, with the speaker shown in a small box in the corner and their content filling the remainder of the viewing area. This creates a more attractive look than systems like Zoom that push the speaker’s face to a sidebar.
There are many more ways to use Behance in teaching beyond what I have discussed here. Students could compile videos and other content related to a lesson covered in class to illustrate how it applies to the world outside the classroom. They could create a reflection post with images and media after an assignment as an alternative to the text-heavy LMS discussion form. Additionally, students can use Behance for journaling. They can post a photo from their phone each week that represents what they are learning. Of course, faculty can also use it to display their own content (Schaefer, 2021).
Times have changed, and we need to ensure that we are preparing students for the digital world that they are entering. Behance is a useful tool for doing so.
Schaefer, W. (2021, September 20–24). Death to the poster project! Moving print projects online . . . for good [Conference presentation]. OLC Accelerate 2021.
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