- Personalizing: Curriculum-Delivered Advisories
- Planning: Portfolios
- Demonstrating: Student-Led Conferences
What is an electronic portfolio?
A portfolio is
defined as "a purposeful collection of student work that demonstrates
efforts, progress, and achievement in one or more areas" over time
(NWEA, 1989). Instead of storing files in a paper folder or notebook, an
electronic portfolio stores that collection in
some type of a digital container: hard
Keep in mind that there is a difference between a digital
stored in a digital format in some
type digital storage--sometimes called a working portfolio), and
a variety of presentation portfolios that could be created for
different purposes and audiences. There is also a difference between the
portfolio as process (collection, selection, reflection,
direction, presentation) and the portfolio as product (the
notebook, the website, the CD-ROM or the DVD and the technological tools
used to create the portfolio-as-product). Some commercial tools can also
facilitate "work flow management" which facilitates formative
assessment and feedback on student work.
How can an electronic portfolio
be used with Navigation 101?
The primary purpose for the portfolios
that students develop under the Navigation 101 program is for students
planning. It is different than the portfolios that students might develop
in a class, such as a writing portfolio in a Language Arts class, or an
employment/marketing portfolio in a vocational course. These Navigation
101 planning portfolios are meant to take on a long-range perspective,
both of the past and especially of the future. Therefore, an electronic
planning portfolio should support students beyond their high school years,
providing an opportunity to tell the story of their learning and growth
over time, as well as their vision of their futures. The Mead School District's
Student Portfolio Handbook had a great quote:
Remember, you are telling us a story, and not just any
story. Your portfolio is meant to be your story of your life over the
last four years as well as the story of where your life might be going
during the next four years: tell it with pride!
The best part of Navigation 101 is that students have a clear purpose
for creating their electronic portfolios. From that purpose, students
can create an e-portfolio that best represents who they are and what
they want to do in their lives, and how they want to get there!
How do we get started?
Begin by providing students with
space to store their documents digitally, and strategies for converting
their documents into digital form. Does your school provide server space
for students to store their work? Then have them set up a Portfolio folder
that they can use to store the specific documents that they want to include
in their portfolio. There are other, more sophisticated technologies available
for online storage that we may want to explore.
Next, ask students what technology they have at home, and how they use
technology when they are outside of school. Include more than computer
and Internet technology. What about iPods, cell phones, game machines?
I predict that many students use technology OUTSIDE of their academic
ways than they do in school. Work with students to see how we could use
"their" technology productively and responsibly.
Then, figure out how you want the students to create their presentation
portfolios, that they will use in their student-led conferences. That
gets us into the discussiuon of tools, which is the next section below.
CD or DVD
Online Static Tools
Web 2.0 Tools
tools should we use to create our presentation portfolios?
It is difficult to make specific recommendations without knowing the
complete portfolio context: purpose, audience, technology available,
technology skills of portfolio developers, etc. The answer is usually, "It
depends!" However, the purpose of the Navigation 101 planning portfolio
is clear, putting students at the center of the process. These portfolios
are NOT "standards buckets" where students demonstrate the achievement
of academic standards
("take a standard, put in a piece of work, justify your reason" although
that is often what is done with some of the existing e-portfolio systems).
The tools should facilitate students' "voice" (both
literally and rhetorically), allowing them to tell their own unique stories
their interests, passions, and achieving their future goals. Therefore,
students should have some input into the process of creating their electronic
Have you asked students how
they currently use technology OUTSIDE of school?
Here is a list
of questions (in PDF) that you can ask
groups of students to gather information about their use of technology. These
focus group questions were adapted by Mike Hubert for use with students
in Bremerton, based on the focus group questions used in Dr. Barrett's
Reflect Initiative study (2005-2007). If would be great if we could share
these results with other Navigation 101 schools.
Are there some types of technologies
that can be adapted to use with Navigation 101?
Start with what you are currently
using in the school: Office software (Microsoft or open source tools).
Add other software when it becomes needed )such as converting files into
PDF...portable document format...Adobe Acrobat). Consider adding some
of the Web 2.0 tools, assuming your Information Technology department approves
of the sites that you select (see below)
Look at the list on the left (different levels of publishing ePortfolios).
If security is an issue, then have students publish their portfolios
on a CD-recordable disc, or on a DVD (if they have a lot of high quality
video that they want to preserve). These optical media can be placed
inside the students' paper-based portfolios and whipped out during the
student-led conference. CD or DVD technology is not interactive, and
needs to be updated for each conference, but it a viable first step in
creating e-portfolios. Students could create their presentation portfolios
using Office tools, Acrobat, or using an HTML (web page) editor, such
as Apple's iLife, Microsoft's Front Page, or the free, open source nVu.
If parents give permission, then some of these
portfolios could be uploaded to the
static website building tools (Level 2), or using some of the more
advanced Web 2.0 tools (Level 3). Dr. Barrett has published an online Category
of ePortfolio tools. In the future, a few students may want to
publish their portfolios in virtual environments, such as Second Life,
should be something they choose to do, not something that the school
can or should support.
Do we need to set up a server
to hold these portfolios?
Not necessarily, although if security
is a real issue, then it would be best to set up a server or use one of
the established online service providers. Most of these services are designed
for higher education, not K-12 schools, and they may not address the security
requirements of minor children. The commercial tools are also not free.
But setting up and supporting a server is also not free. That is the advantage
of Web 2.0 tools.
What are Web 2.0 tools?
The term Web 2.0 was coined several
years ago to describe a new way to use the Internet. More recently, the
Internet has moved beyond a lot of static web pages that are "browsed"
and more of a creative environment where users contribute using a variety
of Web 2.0 technologies, which are based on an architecture
of interaction which lends itself very well to a pedagogy
of interaction. A key feature of Web 2.0 technologies is
the location of the software; rather than storing the software on your
computer, most of the software resides on the host computer (as well as
most of the files created with that software) and all the user needs is
the right web browser to access the software and the files. These Web 2.0
- blogs: shorthand
for "web log" which is like an online journal with entries
stored in reverse-chronological order. The most popular blogging tools
are: Blogger (a service of Google), WordPress (the software used by
EduBlogs) and Moveable Type (software to install on your own server).
- wikis: wiki means "quick" in Hawaiian
and is a publishing environment
that can be edited by multiple users... the most famous example is
Wikipedia. Popular wikis used in schools are WikiSpaces and PBWiki.
You can also install MediaWiki on your own server (the software that
- GoogleDocs: (online documents- word processing,
presentations, spreadsheets) Google has provided a suite of online
tools for creating different types of productivity tool files. Microsoft
Office documents can be uploaded and converted into GoogleDocs; and
GoogleDocs files can be saved and downloaded into Microsoft Office,
OpenOffice and PDF file formats. There are other online Productivity
tools available (Zoho, ThinkFree, gOffice)
- Photo Sharing: using sites like Flickr (owned by
Yahoo) and Picasa (owned by Google), where students can upload images
that they either scan or create with a digital camera, or export from
an imaging editing program, such as Adobe's PhotoShop or the open source
- Podcasts (online audio sharing): Students create
audio files and post them to a server than includes syndication (RSS
feeds). Create audio files using the open source Audacity software.
Upload to different audio services including Odeo and Podomatic.
- Video Sharing: Students upload video to the Internet.
The most popular site is YouTube (which is probably blocked on most
school networks) but other sites have been set up for school-appropriate
content, including TeacherTube and SchoolTube.
- WebSite Builders: services that either provide web
site editing tools (Yahoo's GeoCities, Google's GooglePages, Lycos'
Tripod) or space where students can upload web sites created with PC-based
HTML editing tools, such as FreeWebs, Apple's .Mac accounts, etc.
Dr. Barrett has published a web page
that discusses the many ways that Web 2.0 technologies can be used
to create e-portfolios. She has also devoted a
website to the use of the many Google tools that can be used to
create e-portfolios. There are some disadvantages to using many of
these tools: they are not protected sites and are often blocked by
some district networks. Therefore, there should be a discussion with
district IT staff about what sites would be accessible in your school.
How do we learn how
to implement e-portfolios with our students?
Dr. Barrett has developed a
web page that describes the Staff Development needed to implement e-portfolios.
Develop a partnership between the Navigation 101teachers and the technology
teachers in your school and district. Don't forget to ask the students!
They are probably more adept at using Web 2.0 tools than the teachers!
In Dr. Barrett's research, some students called their e-portfolios their
"academic MySpace!" Educators in Australia believe that students who use
the many Web 2.0 tools (especially social networking, such as MySpace,
and video sharing sites) have developed the technology skills to be able
to develop very creative e-portfolios.
Dr. Barrett will be at the Navigation 101 conference in June 2008 and
will showcase some examples of how some of the "Lighthouse" schools have
used some of these technologies to publish their electronic planning
portfolios that include digital storytelling.