Showcasing student work has long been the centerpiece of parent-teacher conferences. Students have an opportunity to select their best work and examples of work over time that show progress. With a teacher's help, a student creates a file or binder of work that represents his/her best work. The portfolio might be self explanatory, or a student uses the portfolio to support a conversation and reflection about his/her learning. Traditionally, these portfolios have consisted largely of paper assignments (essays, worksheets, creative writing, etc.) as well as artwork and photos of school activities.
Why Digital Portfolios?
Digital portfolios take the traditional format a step further. Web-based technology allows us to upload images, video, audio, and text for easy archiving and viewing. Add to this student reflection and teacher feedback, and you have an exciting demonstration of student learning.
Digital portfolios have been introduced into the ConVal District as part of the New Hampshire ICT (Information & Communication Technology) Standards which mandate that all students compile two portfolios in their K-12 education: one that spans K-8 and the other that documents high school learning.
How is the Portfolio Organized?
The framework for the digital portfolio is the National Educational Technology Standards for Students, or NETS-S. Students are required to show evidence of digital technology proficiency in the following areas:
1. Creativity and Collaboration
2. Communication and Collaboration
3. Research and Information Fluency
4. Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
5. Digital Citizenship
6. Technology Operations and Concepts
The Tool: Sakai
We use a web-based portfolio tool within an online learning environment called Sakai. Each GBS student has a login to Sakai and is a member of the portfolio project. This tool allows students to easily upload projects they have created as part of a tech-integrated lesson, reflect on their work, and receive teacher feedback. The site is available to students from any Internet-connected computer.
Although digital portfolios are relatively new to our district, schools and districts around the country that have fully implemented digital portfolios have seen students showing greater pride in their work and more engagement in the learning process through reflection.
As we become more experienced practitioners of the digital portfolio process, we anticipate that these portfolios will become valuable assets for students, teachers, and parents.
For more information about digital portfolios, we recommend these links: