Recently a colleague of mine posted a request for opinions about digital portfolios in the classroom. I believe that they are very useful tool for learning in the classroom. I believe that a portfolio can be used to showcase something. This means that there can be digital portfolios that showcase different things students do/experience in the classroom. There are three that I would like to share my thoughts on here.
First is the portfolio that is a collection of work. This generally demonstrates the quality final products. This focuses on the individual and their products and in my experience does not demonstrate learning.
Secondly there is a learning journal portfolio, which is intended use reflections of an experience or activity. The reflection is a means of communicating the KWL (Know, Want to Know, Learn) process. This is a more personal view of how an individual has constructed their learning through experiences. It allows for other parties to see the journey of what is learned and to gauge the amount of growth the individual has undergone.
Thirdly, there is a collaborative learning portfolio. Here multiple people contribute a unified analysis of an experience through documentation of discussions and justifications of the development process of a product. Focus is on the product and how people’s visions and opinion’s have shape the product. Some learning can be determined through this portfolio, however it would be more the learning about creating the product as a while compared to the learning journal portfolio that showcases the individuals construction of learning.
Understanding that there are different portfolios means that we need to clearly communicate which is to be used and when. It would also help determine which tools will be used in each situation. For example: Fresh grade is great as a learning portfolio. It does not handle file management or collaboration for peers well, but is very good at allowing communication of own learning with additional digital exemplars. A website may work better for showcasing the best work. Google docs or some other multiuser collaborative tool would be good for the collaborative portfolio.
I am very much in favour of digital portfolios. They can act as a summary of learning or even a notebook/journal of what and how much they have learned. Documenting this gives the opportunity for students, parents and teachers to go back and review what is learned and to determine the growth of a student. If nothing is documented, they don’t have that opportunity and the learning of an experience or moment may be forgotten or lost.