The Zip Line course takes place over the course of a semester and provides a great deal of student engagement and community building. Students learn about campus and how to navigate being a part of a large, research institution. They participate in various activities designed to help them learn the ins-and-outs of Virginia Tech, as well as how to handle career development, time management, study habits, etc. Related to career development, they begin thinking through research questions. The final project for the course culminates in a group research project, where students combine their interests and their disciplinary backgrounds to pursue a research topic from multiple perspectives. The students present their research through the medium of an electronic portfolio.
It should be noted that the practice being described here is for a previous offering of this course, and the course is currently being offered by a different faculty member and has thus been redesigned. The course still operates with the same goals, but it does have different activities and ePortfolio has a different role in the course. The description in this post is of the course when it was offered from 2010-2012.
Authors: Jill Sible and Gary Kinder were the original designers of the ZIP Line program. There are two new faculty coming on board this upcoming year to take the program into the next phase, as Jill and Gary have moved on to other responsibilities.