Playing with Digital Portfolios

I’m a big fan of digital portfolio’s, although up until this year I wouldn’t say I’ve been terribly confident in using them. The teams first attempt felt overly complex. We had a scheduled period each week for students to reflect on how they’d used that disposition that week and post on their DP… basically it boiled down to half hearted attempts, tech issues, and no one checking the detailed feedback their mentors left them. Students didn’t value it. Sigh. After that I basically ignored the concept for a year. Bringing us to 2020. I felt like I needed to strip the process right back and simplify as much as possible. In my mind at least, if this is something that is going to live on past a single year it needs to be super flexible. So far it’s working, I’ve got three classes up and running with active and maintained DPs – and it doesn’t feel hard! Here’s what I’ve learnt so far:

Keep it flexible

I’ve pulled it back to two tabs – ‘Reflections‘ and ‘Projects‘ OR ‘My Best Work‘. All of my classes do projects, but I’ve left it to them which wording they would prefer. My rationale is given that we already reflect, it should be pretty simple to keep regular posts coming to the ‘Reflections’ page. ‘My best work’ also gives us a place to publish smaller activities like peer edited stories, as well as our major projects.

Build on what’s already happening

I think last time we added too many things all at once. It was the first year I’d really taught students to regularly reflect, the first year we’d rolled out dispositions and our first go at DPs. So this time, I looked at what I was already doing and how I could build on that in an authentic way. By focusing on reflections as the bread and butter of the Portfolio (at this stage anyway), its felt easy for me to maintain them. By this rationale, I think each teachers approach to DP’s would vary, based on what is already a core routine for their learners.

Collect the links!

Collect links in the first session. I didn’t with one class and it dragged out way too long! I found creating a spreadsheet with the links an easy way to save them, way easier than when I was storing them in my inbox. I’m trying to check in periodically and equating back to the days we used to collect their exercise books. Feedback so far has been either emailed, or written on a slip of paper for those I know won’t check digitally.

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