My last session of the day is “Electronic Portfolios & Making Things Visible” by Michelle Cordy. You can check out her website, “Hack the Classroom.” Many of my teachers and administrators have expressed interest in learning more about digital portfolios. I’ve explored it on many platforms (see my posts Google Sites for Digital Portfolios and Digital Portfolios & College Admissions). I’m excited to learn about composing and building portfolios on the iPad.
Michelle said that she is an “education hacker” because we all (including students) work on projects that we neither need nor want. She asks, “Can your students take a photo in your classroom every day that shows that they are working on something larger than themselves?” Is it meaningful to them? To us?
When we make thinking and learning visible, we focus on what we believe is important – the learning we want to document for assessment. By taking photos, we put ourself in a “remembering” mode – we want to capture it for later. Taking pictures is also a way that we enhance our performance – if we know we’re being recorded we show our best selves. We also take pictures to remind ourselves of our failures – so that we won’t repeat them. As educators, we take photos to demonstrate learning. We also take photos to record what is beautiful and surprising. We take pictures as “proof.” We also take photos to reinforce relationships. So in our classrooms, we need to make moments that are “photo-worthy.”
New technologies allows students to be the ones doing to the capturing, not just the teacher. However, when we allow the students to guide their own learning do we leave it to chance? Does it allow the child who is the loudest or pushiest to drive education? As teachers, we need to take a primary role in the classroom.
“It doesn’t need to be HD, it just needs to work.”
Anyone who has used technology in the classroom knows that is true! So this brings Michelle to iPads – how can we use this device and not leave learning to chance? For constructing ePortfolios, she uses Blogger and Google Drive. She then introduces us to a classroom of Grade 6 students using both of these tools to build digital portfolios. They highlighted that Google Drive allows you to share content with your friends who can help you to edit and revise your work. The students use Blogger to do their weekly reflections (like a journal) as well as a way that they can reflect on their readings and materials.
While students publishing fully to the web will vary based on age and needs, this allows them to begin training to become meaningful contributors to the web. In dealing with younger students, teachers often filter and share their students’ content. This is often how we address issues of privacy. However, that means that the teacher owns that content and students cannot own or curate it. We must ensure that however we present students’ content we ensure that they own their own data. Of course, this means we may need to be creative about publication and privacy (e.g. age 13 restrictions, privacy concerns, etc).
Michelle says “I am okay with hard, but it should be fun hard. It should not be tech hard.” This is a great point – projects should be a challenge. The tech should work to support the learning – easy to apply. Projects may have a lot of ups and downs, but at the end the student should feel accomplished. Electronic portfolios should be about tracking the whole project, not just the finished product. She highlights several “sandbox” apps like iMovie, Book Creator, Explain Everything, and Screen Chomp. These can be stored electronically for future curation as well. It’s not the project that is rich, but the cognitive processing afterwards that provides deeper and more enduring meaning.