Digital Portfolios for the Classroom
Increasingly, new electronic technologies such as digital video and the Web are being used for student projects. These technologies also lend themselves to the documentation of student progress in the form of digital portfolios. This week, we examine issues to consider when using digital portfolios in the classroom.
This Week's Tips
Keep the Focus on Demonstrated Learning (Monday)
Determine what learning will be demonstrated in the digital portfolio. Like traditional print portfolios, it is important to give students direction regarding what the portfolio should accomplish. Donít allow the bells and whistles of technology to hijack the ultimate purpose of the portfolio—to document and demonstrate learning and progress. Give students a list of appropriate materials and presentation formats to use in the portfolio.
Use Appropriate Technology for Digital Portfolios (Tuesday)
Research the hardware and software that will be available for building the digital portfolio. With this information, determine what will be appropriate based on the skills of your students. It is essential that students have a relatively equal command of the technologies in order for the portfolio process to be fair. If some students are significantly advanced in some areas where others are deficient, require the advanced students to assist the less-advanced ones. They can then be given credit for the mentoring role they have taken. Also, locate the computer support staff who will be willing to assist students if necessary.
Allow Alternatives to Digital Portfolios (Wednesday)
Consider allowing a paper alternative for students without home access to a computer or adequate computer skills. It is essential to create a rubric which allows for equal treatment of the non-digital portfolio. If students have created online projects for class assignments, they can make screen captures of Web pages or capture video stills that can be printed out for inclusion in a paper-based portfolio. They can also include storyboards, scripts, or other non-electronic forms of documentation.
Avoid Hard Drive Crashes (Thursday)
Limit the file size and length of the portfolio so that you donít exceed hardware capacities. If students have created extended digital videos for class projects, ask them to include a clip rather than the entire project. The clip should be representative of work they completed for the project. Factor in the amount of time needed to create the portfolio and be sure to start the process early enough in the term.
Model Excellence in Digital Portfolios (Friday)
Provide a model for the digital portfolio. Give students a sample of what the digital portfolio should resemble. You may want to develop a menu of items and file types that could be included. If the digital portfolio process is new to your class or school, mock-up a sample of what you would like students to create. In addition to providing students with a model, it will be a useful exercise because it allows you to assess the amount of time and effort required to complete the portfolio. Build regular check points in the process to make sure students are thinking about and assembling their portfolio.