E Portfolios in The Classroom

Using E-Portfolios in the Classroom

For decades, students have been required to complete assignments at their respective schools. Most of the time, these were only seen by the teacher, who graded them and returned them to the student. The work was sometimes displayed on the walls of classrooms or in the hallways of schools. When it came to report card conferences, many teachers kept portfolios of student work on hand, and the rare teacher taught students how to create their own portfolios from their own work.

More and more schools are opting for paperless operations or migrating to the “cloud,” which stores files on the Internet, making student work more easily shareable, accessible by a larger number of people, and more easily organised. Many teachers are utilising digital portfolios, also known as “e-portfolios,” to help their students showcase their work. Teachers’ methods for assigning, collecting, and assessing student classwork and projects have changed dramatically as a result of the introduction of digital portfolios.

Prior to making a decision on a tool or platform, you should ask yourself the following questions:

Is student work available to the public, or does it have to be kept in a “walled garden”?
Is it possible for students to view and comment on each other’s work?
Is it possible for the teacher to provide feedback to the student in private?
Is it possible to easily organise student work by date, course, or some other classification?
Is it possible for students to transfer their portfolios from year to year as they progress through the school?
When students graduate from high school, will they be able to access their work or export it?
Is it possible to upload a variety of file types (documents, audio files, video files) to the platform?
Is there a cost associated with using the tool or platform?
Is it possible for a teacher to set up a teacher account as well as student accounts, or do students have to sign up themselves? Is there a minimum age requirement to join?
Is it possible to integrate the tool with an existing SMS system or other school-wide database and/or gradebook system?
Some of these questions may not apply to your situation, but conducting research before committing to a tool is essential…………………………………………………. Transferring student work from one platform to another can be time-consuming and frustrating once your students have begun building their portfolio.

Several Alternatives
There are several tools that can be used to collect, organise, and share student work, which are listed below. Those that are available for free are denoted by an asterisk (*).

Project Foundry is a company that specialises in the creation of new projects.
This tool facilitates the organisation, tracking, and sharing of learning in a project-based learning environment. It includes tools for grading and providing feedback that are based on standards. Teachers have the option of including a digital portfolio website for their students in their lesson plans.

Powered by Google Sites*
Create a website to allow students to share their classwork and projects. Users must be at least 13 years old in order to register. Students can upload files by selecting the “file locker” option from the drop-down menu.

Wikispaces and PBwiki are two examples of collaborative work.
Using these two wiki-building tools, students can create a website containing a collection of their work. Because of the collaborative nature of the tools, student teams can create a workspace in which to display their achievements. Student accounts can be created by the teacher even if they do not have an email address. (Please note that PBwiki is also referred to as PBworks.)

Dropbox* Students can share their work by creating a public folder in the Dropbox service. This platform supports a variety of file formats and can be used collaboratively by allowing users to share folders.

For each class, students can create “notebooks” within their Evernote accounts, which can then be shared with the rest of the class. Students can upload documents, photos, and audio files to their notebooks, as well as other types of files.

Teachers can use eBackpack to assign, collect, grade, and return assignments to students. Students can do the same. Students can upload files to their digital locker in order to compile an online portfolio for the course they are currently enrolled in. Work that has been uploaded cannot be viewed by anyone outside of the closed system.