Polls continually reveal that employers are more interested in what you can do over what you studied and traditional resumes are slowly giving way to digital portfolios as the primary gauge of your employability. A portfolio is both a container and a presentation platform for your best work - whether that be written pieces, photography, videos, presentations, performances or anything else. There's no better place than school to start developing that portfolio. Creating a system that enables students to edit and share digital portfolios should be high on your priority list.
Many software systems have a "portfolio feature" but you'll want to carefully consider your goals before jumping into the water. Here's a few factors to ponder when setting up your portfolio system.
What are you storing and where will you keep it? I still walk into far too many schools that use large internal network servers for file storage. Storing student portfolios on an internal server will require substantial amounts of network disk space - especially as portfolios should include a variety of different media and not just text. Yes, your IT person may warn you that it's safer to keep content in-house but when push comes to shove, would you rather rely on a company such as Google to secure your content (free of charge!) or that (very expensive) internal system of backup servers, drives, software and backup power sources in the IT room that you never step into?
Who will be able to see it? Internal storage also denies access to anyone that's not logged into your network. The whole point of a portfolio is to create a vehicle for sharing and presenting work. As a result, I'd lean heavily towards using a web based service for storing portfolios. You may already use a "walled garden" - a service that limits sharing and access within the school itself. One example would be a learning management system that requires verification before gaining access. That's fine as long as it provides a function for the student to allow external access to their portfolio when required and/or a mechanism for the student to take the portfolio with them when they leave the school. Make sure to check.
Who will be able to edit it? It's clear that you'd want to allow selective viewing permissions for others to browse the work in a portfolio ... but you should also consider how to allocate permissions for people to edit the content in the portfolio. Giving students editing permissions grants them a pride of ownership that will empower them with the desire to create content worthy of display. Most systems enable you to share editing rights with individual students.
Will it work on all computers and devices? Ideally you'll want to use a system that is cross-platform. It needs to be a web based system that works equally well on Windows computers, MacBooks and mobile devices. If you're using iPads effectively then students will be creating media that needs to be moved into their portfolios easily on their iPad.
What system will you use to manage it? You'll want to select a system that has the following characteristics:
With that in mind, let's take a look at a few tools for creating and managing student portfolios. All of the following are web based services that also have apps for the iPad.
Evernote is a wonderful service that allows users to archive and tag all sorts of digital content in Notebooks. With a premium account, you can create a Portfolio Notebook for each student and share it with them. You can have the students sign up for a free Evernote account. Once the Notebook has been created and shared, students can start creating notes in it with their portfolio content. There are several ways this can be done:
2. Google Apps
Google Apps offers a tremendous amount of functionality to educational institutions - not the least of which is the ability to store and organize content in Google Drive. If your school has a Google Apps domain then all teachers and students will have school accounts and access to their own Google Drive account.
As was the case with Evernote, you can set up folders for student portfolios and move content into those folders as needed. Once the folder is created and shared, students can move content into their Google Drive account using the "Open In..." feature in most iPad apps (as seen in the example from Pages below).
Use the Share/Open In feature to send content to Google Drive
If students have access to a laptop or desktop then they can use Google Sites - another component of Google Apps - to create a website that displays and highlights content from their portfolio.
One alternative tool that has a wonderful user interface for content presentation is EduClipper. Once again, EduClipper has a web based service that can be accessed on any computer as well as an excellent iPad app. As the name suggests, EduClipper allows you to "clip" content from a variety of sources and then share it with others.
EduClipper has a wonderful Portfolio feature that allows you to select content and arrange it visually within a customizable online presentation template. Portfolios can be shared or private and you can clip content from a variety of cloud services such as Google Drive and Dropbox as well as directly from the iPad Camera Roll. You can also use the Share/Open In function from most apps to send content to your EduClipper account.
The following video demonstrates EduClipper's Portfolio feature.
Whichever tool you select, remember that the heart of developing a digital portfolio lies in granting ownership of the content to students and allowing them some freedom to share that content with an audience. Portfolios are a wonderful tool for showcasing student work and they'll motivate your students to create quality content that they want to put on display.
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