Digital Portfolios are by no means a revelation and can take many forms to serve many purposes. However they are often perceived by teachers to be time consuming and create a new line of work on top of everything else they are already doing. My experience with portfolios has been the total opposite of that and find that they save me plenty of work and time in planning and assessment.
It is great to see the variation in content and delivery I see throughout schools., however, the number one reason I keep getting asked by teachers who have not yet adopted them as a teaching and learning tool is... why?
I have put together a brief list of benefits from my own experiences Digital Portfolios offer to enhance what you are already doing in the classroom. that can hopefully share with others.
1: As a reflective learning tool: A portfolio is useless unless you are using it for student reflection. Every piece of work should have some sort of annotation or commentary that answers these essential questions.
What did I do? What did I learn? How well do I think I performed on this task and Why?
By doing this you are asking your students to take far more ownership of their learning and gain an understanding of the complete learning process including self assessment.
Authentic Assessment Tool: Photographs, reading samples, videos and work samples provide a database of evidence of what has been learnt over period of time to show progress, effort and attitude through student reflections. Portfolios will save you a massive amount of time when writing reports as everything that matters is stored in a central area for easy access.
3: Personalised Learning Tool: Depending upon how you structure them Digital Portfolios allow for a great deal of student expression and creativity. I recommend giving my students a specific space to express all of their personal thoughts hobbies, music etc. so that you also have dedicated learning sections that are not cluttered with irrelevant information.
Stuednts can really emphasise areas of learning that are important to them by continually adding work to certian sections that has been done outside of school also.
4: I.C.T Skill Development Tool. As an ICT coach I have never seen one piece of work encompass so many ICT skills. If I look at my current portfolios just some of the skills involved are: Video Editing, Photostory, Scratch, Hyperlinking, Embedding Objects, Audio Narration and editing, Scratch, kahootz, Inspiration Blog creation and loads more, Google Earth, Google Sketchup, Garageband. Teachers can learn these at a steady pace throughout the year and in turn learn from students as they expand upon what has been taught.
5: Time Capsule: Digital Portfolios take time to create as they well should. My students take 12 months to complete and I have seen some schools that carry their portfolios over a number of years. Over time they create a brilliant personalised learning diary that can be shared with peers, teachers and parents as a time capsule of learning for that period of time. Ensure your portfolios contain plenty of images and media to support this.
I would love to see what you are doing with portfolios in you classroom and what benefits, failures or success you have had with them?