Holly Clark-Featured Teacher


Why should teachers embrace digital portfolios?

By: Britton Spivey

Webinars, what a great idea for professional growth

This was my first time participating in a webinar, and I really enjoyed the experience. I gained much more from the experience because I was allowed to pick a topic of interest, connect with other educators, and easily access information that was made available throughout the webinar. Often we are told what professional seminars we will attend. Some of the seminars were not relevant to our subject, grade level, or classroom needs. Districts should really consider using webinars for PLUs and professional development, because teachers learn more when information is relevant. This webinar immediately grabbed my interest because the topic was on showcasing student’s work through digital portfolios. I have used portfolios before and felt they did not effectively assess the student’s knowledge. As the teacher, I put so much effort into commenting on their work, I thought this was something they would keep and reflect on in the future. However, when they got their grade, their portfolios made a permanent home in the trash. This left me with several questions. Why would students throw their work away? Were they not proud of the work they produced? Was the work irrelevant? Were they unsure what to do with the portfolio? Holly Clark’s webinar answered several of those questions and gave me insight as to why 21st century students behave differently. The webinar was an experience that encouraged me to revisit an old assignment and give it a 21st century makeover.

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Take Aways

Why should teachers embrace digital portfolios?

It is an assessment that will increase metacognition as students have to evaluate, create, and reflect their work.

Digital natives cannot be defined or compared to students of previous generations. Why? Technology has changed the learner; it has made them digital sharers, global learners, and creators. Understanding this allowed me to understand why my “pencil/paper” portfolio was not effective. By giving assessments such as digital portfolios enables students to globally share, which then produces a desire to generate high quality work. Due to their digital sharing nature, students get pleasure from having others visit and comment on their work. Yet, they know in order for this to happen, they must create work that will attract an audience. This forces them to question the quality of their work: Is this good enough to upload online? Digital portfolios are also beneficial because information is readily assessable and easy to find. By housing their work online, student’s can easily retrieve, edit, and add to the project. The project is no longer associated with school hours, because students can work on their projects anywhere anytime. Digital portfolios also create assessments that give students choices, meet individualism, and promote creativity.

Digital portfolios help teachers digitize the classroom.

Teachers need to remember, the best way to educate students today is not the same way we educated in the past. We must change the learning environment. How can we do this? Incorporate technology within the classroom. Technology can set a self-paced learning atmosphere where students find answers from multiple sources, engage in collaboration, and seek solutions through curiosity. For example, one teacher chose to have students create a digital portfolio on reading fluency. Each nine weeks the teacher had them record themselves as they read a book. At the end of the year, students could clearly see their progress as they assessed themselves from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. The student’s progress was personal which made reflection and goal setting a significant part of the process. Digitized classrooms may create better learning environments and allow many flexibilities which could produce better and smarter learners.

Incorporates Digital Citizenship

Having students create work that is viewable online, creates an opportunity to teach students what it means to be a digital citizen. Again, students are digital sharers. They understand what it means to be connected i.e. sharing photos, information, and thoughts. However, they’re minds are still young and act off impulses which can lead to poor judgment and danger. Most parents are ineffective educators when it comes to digital citizenship, simply because they are uninformed. Digital projects such as digital portfolios allow teachers to incorporate these principles as day to day skills. Holly makes a good point by saying: “Regardless, students are going to connect socially online.” Embracing social connection and using it as a tool for learning, helps educators inform students as they become active members in the online world.

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Great Blog

So you might be asking yourself: What exactly is a digital portfolio, and what might it look in younger grades? This blog provides a definition, tools or software, examples, and information of digital portfolios. Often we think technology is something only for older students use; this blog eliminated the age factor by proving technology can be used by all.

Inspiring video

This video shows advantages to digital portfolios (e-portfolios). I want to implement digital portfolios in my curriculum next year; I am overwhelmed because I do not know where to start. This video made me realize that I should create one myself before assigning it to my students. It also shows the fantastic organized nature in which the portfolio is created.

e-portfolios for starters

Resources that are perfect for starting digital portfolios

This wiki page is a great place to start learning about digital portfolios. It provides basic information and videos, tools commonly used, and teacher and student examples of digital portfolios. Like all wiki pages it allows you to give input and share ideas.