“There can be infinite uses of the computer and of new age technology, but if teachers themselves are not able to bring it into the classroom and make it work, then it fails.” – Nancy Kassebaum

Using technology effectively in education is an area of growing importance and consideration. With the advent of 1-1 laptop and tablet program the accessibility of technology is greater than ever. This underline the necessity of ensuring that the use of technology drives student learning and not the other way around. 

One area that I have spent considerable time focusing on throughout this year is a proposed change from paper based portfolios to digital portfolios also known as eportfolios. This change is coming from above but is being championed by small groups of teacher-leaders. As this has been a major focus of my professional life I have also spent time looking at this in my academic pursuits.

The first question that I looked at is if eportfolios are better than paper based options. Through my research I found out much about the proposed benefits and found it helpful to highlight them according to the stakeholder they best support. By examining the benefits of digital portfolios we will better be able to ascertain if it is worth the change.

Students 

An important aspect in a successful portfolio is a high degree of student agency in the process. Students are more likely to learn when they are actively engaged and have a sense of ownership of the process. Students have a much greater possibility to be engaged with the vast amount of options available when using an eportfolio. Digital portfolios play a positive role for students by increasing motivation, differentiation, ownership and responsibility. Using protected social media platforms allows for increased digital citizenship and a greater understanding of how to make good choices on the internet. Students have greater freedom regarding the tools they are using and the type of work they are presenting. By selecting work, setting goals, self-assessing and organizing their digital portfolio, students are able to make decisions that have a real impact on their education.

Teachers 

One of the most important benefits for teachers is the dynamism that digital portfolios provide. Using a combination of Google Drive and WordPress blogs allows for a multimedia approach to demonstrating process or product that can be monitored. Work can be hyperlinked for ease of access and creating key connections. Pictures, video, audio, text and graphics can all be used to represent work in a variety of ways. Teachers can actively review students work without relying on what can be printed and organized in a binder. This allows for greater personalization of work and more choices made available. There are multiple ways for teachers to give feedback to students both in person and digitally.

Parents 

A benefit of using digital portfolios is the increased accessibility when compared with a traditional method. While paper based portfolios can be used to increase parent participant, iFolios are an even more effective method of educating parents and increasing their involvement in the learning process. Being able to share work online allows parents to check in on their children’s learning remotely and with greater efficacy. A family can review the portfolio with or without their child at a time and location that is more convenient.

School/Community

Being able to share learning in a more interactive and accessible method is beneficial for the entire community. Great learning and activities should not be hidden away but should a part of the school’s overall marketing approach. By using digital options for a portfolio members from the entire community can access learning and be a part of the process. Students can select work that is publically shared or can choose to password protect work that they would like to keep private.  Google Drive and WordPress both offer teacher supervised and protected access for students to use the benefits of social media without the same levels of risk.  Work that is made public can be reviewed and even commented on by the entire community in a way that is safe and monitored.  As the world becomes more interconnected it is important that education allows for and embraces this collaborative approach.

Ultimately digital portfolios seem to offer considerable benefits. Throughout this
program I have found the depth of research needed to better understand the change and support it.

If you would like to find out more about digital portfolios check out these resources:

Andrade, M. S. (2013, May-June). Launching e-portfolios: An organic process. Assessment Update: Progress, Trends and Practices in Higher Education, 25 (3). 1-2, 14-16.

Bates, C.C. (2014, September). Digital portfolios: using technology to involve families. Young Children, 56-57.

Brunette, L. (2013, January/February). Embracing technology with e-portfolios. Exchange Magazine, 26-29.

Danielson, C., & Abrutyn, L. (1997). Introduction to using portfolios in the classroom. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development.

Davies, A., & Le Mahieu, P. (2003). Assessment for learning: Reconsidering portfolios and research evidence. Innovation and Change in Professional Education: Optimising New Modes of Assessment: In Search of Qualities and Standards (p141-169). Retrieved from http://electronicportfolios.org/afl/Davies%26LeMahieu.pdf

Donston-Miller, D. (2013). 7 ways to create e-portfolios. Information Week. Retrieved from http://www.informationweek.com/software/7-ways-to-create-e-portfolios/d/d-id/1110673?

Epstein, A. (2014). Portfolio types. Synapse Learning Design. Retrieved from https://www.teachervision.com/teaching-methods-and-management/experimental-education/4530.html

Garrett, N. (2011). An eportfolio design supporting ownership, social learning, and ease of use. Educational Technology & Society., 14 (1), 187–202.

Hartman, E. (2013). Are eportfolios still relevant for today’s students?. Emerging Ed Tech. Retrieved from http://www.emergingedtech.com/2013/03/are-eportfolios-still-relevant-for-todays-students/

Lorenzo, G., & Ittelson, J. (2005). An overview of e-portfolios. Educase Learning Initiative. Retrieved from https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI3001.pdf

Luca, J. (2011). 5 reasons why our students are writing blogs and creating eportfolios. Powerful Learning Practice. Retrieved from http://plpnetwork.com/2011/08/26/5-reasons-why-our-students-are-writing-blogs-and-creating-eportfolios/

McDonald, E. (2011). Student portfolios as an assessment tool. Education World. Retrieved from http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/columnists/mcdonald/mcdonald025.shtml

Milman, N.B. (2014). Developing a digital portfolio. Distance Learning, 11(4). 37-40.

Mueller, J. (2014). Portfolios. Authentic Assessment Toolkit. Retrieved from http://jfmueller.faculty.noctrl.edu/toolbox/portfolios.htm

Ryan, J.K. (2008). Shared ownership of assessment: Student portfolios in a second grade classroom. Westerville City Schools. Retrieved from http://www.otterbein.edu/Files/pdf/Education/JTIR/VolumeV/Ryan%20final.pdf

Sharp, J.E. (1997). Using portfolios in the classroom. Vanderbilt University. Retrieved from http://fie-conference.org/fie97/papers/1427.pdf

 

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