Sunday, November 27, 2011

Digital Portfolios

Last week I was in a couple of meeting where portfolios were discussed.  From an IT point of view, the only portfolio I  really find useful for my students is a digital one.  It's not possible to print-out an audio file or a movie or an animation, so it's not possible to put many of the multimedia projects the students have created into their paper portfolio that gets sent home twice a year.

A digital portfolio, however, is a great way to collect the work students have done on a computer or using Web 2.0 tools as it is a multimedia collection that provides evidence of a student's knowledge, skills and understanding.  A digital portfolio can be continued by a student from one school year to the next.  This year our Grade 4 students who moved up into Grade 5 "took" their blogs (which are similar to ePorfolios) with them and continued to add on their work - this means that now the digital portfolios are also demonstrating their growth through time.

In Curriculum 21, David Niguidula writes:
When done well, a digital portfolio outlines a student's learning journey in much the same way that a curriculum map describes a teacher's teaching journey.
He goes on to ask the following questions, which are at the heart of all portfolios, both paper and digital:

  • Why do we collect student work?
  • What audiences are important to us?

These questions in particular are important for helping students and teachers to focus on what they want to collect and select for their portfolios.

In an international school setting, it's great for students to be able to share their portfolio with their extended families.  Often it's hard to do this with a paper portfolio, but again this is where ePortfolios have a decided advantage.  Students can send the URL of their blog or ePortfolio to their friends and relatives back in their home country.

Many schools still rely on paper portfolios, however, so how can we get all the great multimedia projects our students are creating into them?  This week I saw a great solution - turn the URL of the student's work into a QR code, which can be printed and then added into the paper portfolio.  When families receive these paper portfolios at home they can then scan the QR codes and be taken straight to the Web 2.0 projects the students have made.

Eventually I'm sure that all student portfolios will become digital, but for now this seems a good solution that allows both paper and electronic work to be collected and displayed in the students' portfolios.

Photo Credit:  DSC07282 by Phillip Torrone AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works

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