I have decided to stop using the terms “Digital Portfolio” and “ePortfolio”. Whenever I refer to a portfolio now and in the future, it will overwhelmingly be of the so-called-digital kind anyway, so why put them in a separate category? These so-called-ePortfolios perform the same function (and more!) than so-called-traditional portfolios, so why single them out?
It doesn’t make them special to most; it makes them scary. It doesn’t make them exciting and innovative to teachers; it makes them something ‘other schools’ do. It doesn’t make them common practice; it makes them exceptional practice.
I wanted to share this photo that I took at ASB Unplugged in February.
DW was my Grade 3 tour guide through her digital portfolio. Google Sites are being piloted as eportfolios at ASB and the students seem to be in charge of everything, right down to scanning in their work. It was really cool to see these little people taking charge of their learning, taking pride in documenting it and even taking control of the technology. It makes me wonder why some people feel that middle and high school students would have a hard time with portfolios. Is it because of the students? Or the teachers/school?
As we continue to explore if how we will implement ePortfolios in the (near) future, I’ve been looking at various options that we can use.
My first attempt was using the blogging platform that comes with our SharePoint portal. It is relatively simple to implement but lacks any sort of character. It would serve well as a reflective tool but may not (easily) work as a type of showcase for students. Also, it is not personalizable and – more importantly – isn’t very portable. Since we, like any international school, have a relatively high transient rate amongst students, this is not a good thing.
Another option that we are considering is the use of a WordPress-type blog. This might be using edublogs or a local WPMU installation. Dr. Helen Barrett has a pretty good sample of what one could look like. It’s reflective in nature and pages can be added as static web pages used as summative showcases at certain points in the year. It is customizable and portable as well.
I think the option that I like most, at this point, however is the use of Google Sites. Thanks to Joseph over at Thinking with Ahead for pointing me in this direction. I had never used Google Sites before but quickly made up a rough first draft. It includes a document library, a blog for on-going reflection, a checklist of what our PYP students currently add to their portfolios and separate pages for end-of-year summative showcases. This seems to satisfy the desire at our school for the portfolio to be flexible: it can be used for assessment, as evidence of growth and as a showcase. (This might be a bit ambitious on our part but that is another blog post!)
Google Sites can be quickly cloned using templates and ownership can be transferred once the student leaves the school. The showcase pages can be individualized by students giving them a sense of ownership over their summative product. And, with Google Apps, we are opening up a world of Google Goodness to all of our students.
I’ve shared what I’ve found with our team. Now let’s see what can come up with.
Which option do like best? Is there one I’ve left out?