Digital Portfolios

Many teachers have worked with portfolio collections of student’s work over the years, particularly for internal assessment purposes, but the digital age offers a whole new realm of possibilities for online versions of these tools.  So what are they all about?

Portfolios essentially have three purposes – for assessment, to support learning, or for employment applications.  In the high school classroom, you may have had students collect their work to show their progress and achievements, resulting in a pile of paper which students have to carry around, or teachers have to file for inspection purposes. With electronic portfolios, access to different users is available at the click of a button, and modifying contents to meet specific goals or adding relevant links can easily be done.  The options for learners to engage in ongoing reflection on their work impacts significantly on their personal growth and the development of their learning.  So rather than simply being a sample of work completed, or a finished product, the portfolio becomes an important tool in the process of learning.

As many schools move to cloud-based storage of materials, digital portfolios make sense as an option for making things easy to share, access and organize.  It also changes how you can assign, collect and assess classwork and projects. As with everything electronic, there are numerous digital options for these portfolios and many things to consider when choosing one.

Some of the areas you may need to think about when defining exactly what you need would include considering how public you want the students’ work to be, where and when it is accessible, and whether feedback can be provided to the student, either by the teacher or other students, and privately or collaboratively.  Practical considerations should take into account how easily the work can be organized by date, or by class, or some other category, and if portfolios can be transferred from year to year and integrated with any school-wide database or management system.  Finally, consider if the option allows for multiple file types, like sound and video files, not just documents, and of course, what, if any, cost is involved.

Depending on your own school’s level of technology access, there are options for all. If you have little or no technological support at school, there are still plenty of options for you and the students to set up digital portfolios using mobile devices. For free tools, SEESAW is one of the most popular apps available. Take a look at this short You Tube video for an overview of how it works: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlw-tUKvnNc

And for more ideas and tips on how to develop digital portfolios, education expert and researcher, Dr Helen Barrett, has plenty to offer on her site: http://www.electronicportfolios.com/

Categories: Technology Trends

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