ePortfolio Development Spirals

Today we had a great meeting where two High School teachers who have been exploring ePortfolios presented their experience. Other teachers in the audience have already started publishing student work in different formats like showcase portfolio webpages, student product page in a class site or even class blogs.

In order to provide some context for eportfolio experiences already happening and possibilities for growth, I created and shared the following Infographic describing ePortfolio development spirals as seen from different perspectives.

Thinking about “Learning“, ePortfolios can start by showcasing best work, or in other words, the final product of a learning experience. As evidence of student progress and development is also presented, the ePortfolio becomes a richer window into the student as a learner, enriching formative assessment. Reflections are then crucial as those create meaning and provide the “glue” that holds together all the artifacts of the learning experience. Reflection as a metacognitive process should be central to the ePortfolio.  As students connect with others by sharing their ePortfolios, learning from the experience of others and helping others on their learning path, then the ePortfolio grows. The ultimate connection is the global one, where different cultural perspectives and different learning contexts are used as a basis for learning about others, learning about yourself and learning about learning.

In terms of  “Content”, ePortfolios can start as a class showcase, then move on to student individual portfolios separated by subject area. Here you can see student pages inside class sites or subject specific blogs.  Growth from this point implies “general” student ePortfolios that include all subject areas, plus any other activities and learning that happens outside school. Here you would see Blogfolios with labels being used to organize subject areas and learning goals. The final step would be to develop a “progressive” ePortfolio that would cover a long period of time, or many grade levels (ideally from K-12 and beyond).  In this way it would be possible to see progress across many years for very different learning targets.

The “SAMR model” can also help understand a development spiral for ePortfolios. In the Substitution” stage we have the showcase of student product, so the ePortfolio acts a substitute venue for sharing the work.  “Augmentation” happens when multimedia is incorporated. We start to move towards “Modification” when process is represented. But it is only when we incorporate reflection that the “task” of collecting work is truly modified to become a metacognitive exercise.  “Modification” also happens when students start making connections with other student ePortfolios.  A final “redefinition” then emerges from a global connection where the individual learning path is influenced by and also influences other very different learning paths.

Finally, in terms of “Platforms”, our school has been using both Google Sites and Blogs, as the ePortfolio central hub. We notice that blogging as a paradigm for ePortfolios grows as we approach reflection and connection, particularly global connections. This is because, first of all, a blog offers the flexibility of different labels assigned to the same post, so the same learning experience can be reviewed under different lenses. On a site, a learning experience tends to be categorized in a more fixed way. Then a blog allows for easy RSS feeds and other ways to follow the posts, so it is a more easily dynamic environment which fosters the connections we want to make. The comment feature is also crucial on those connections and those are very specific to the post and encourage a two way feedback.

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