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Digital Portfolios: A Tool for Teachers and Students

by Shelley Frey A few years ago I attended a digital portfolios workshop at an ITSE conference. The instructor, Jeff Utecht, shared with us his personal journey of implementing digital portfolios throughout all grade levels at an International school in Bangkok. After viewing the portfolios that a few of his students created and hearing how the portfolios have benefited these students I was hooked. He had students that had received scholarships to colleges and amazing job opportunities based on the eportfolio that his students had created while in high school. I firmly believe that digital portfolios can be a great resource for both teachers and students. Digital Portfolios for Students As the skills needed to create digital content are becoming less complex, the use of digital portfolios in schools is beginning to increase. Thanks to the many tools and resources available online creating digital portfolios is easier then ever. Not only can it save districts money, when compared to paper portfolios, but it provides an easy way


for a student to maintain a collection of his/her work from year to year. There are many reasons why digital portfolios are beneficial to students. One of the main reasons is that it can be used as not only an assessment for learning, but also an assessment of learning. Portfolios put learning in the hands of the student. It provides an easy way for students to collect, reflect, and assess their own learning as well as for teachers to assess student learning. Portfolios should not be used just to assess growth and reflection. Portfolios should drive more growth and reflection. Although similar to hard-copy portfolios, digital portfolios offer enhanced benefits to this digital generation of students by giving them creative options for transferring experiences into interactive, meaningful displays of performance. Students see their accomplishments in new ways as they learn how to apply skills and attitudes to new situations (Purcell, 2011).

Digital Portfolios Continued.... Another great think about digital portfolios is that it can go beyond the k-12 classroom. A digital portfolio is a powerful marketing tool for young people searching for employment in the communication or interactive media fields. With a digital portfolio, students can demonstrate their skills at working with software tools, demonstrate appropriate use of materials, explain technical procedures, show an understanding of processes and systems, and present samples of original production work. (Nikirk, 2008). Many employment counselors at universities around the country are trying to have digital portfolios included as part of an exit in many programs. At one college in Michigan, the department's business advisory board, composed of industry leaders, also expressed the need for graduates to demonstrate technological literacy skills along with other critical competency areas, such as written and oral communication skills critical thinking and reasoning, cultural awareness, and ethical judgment. Because of the success of the business education e-portfolios at the school, faculty members decided to adopt digital portfolios for the department's business technology support program. (Willis and Wilkie, 2009). Teacher Portfolios In addition to student portfolios there are many benefits for educators to manage and create their own personal portfolios. In addition to the obvious

reason of obtaining employment, research has proven that portfolios have proven to be a valuable tool for professional development among educators. One study proposed the design of a structured digital portfolio equipped with multiple aids (e.g. selfassessment, peer assessment, discussion and journal writing) for the professional development. “The results showed significant progress was made  by  the  teachers  in  using  assessment   methods,  demonstrated  by  their  improved   performances  after  they  were  provided   with  the  supporting  activities  during  the   process  of  portfolio  construction.       Previous  studies  postulated  that  an   electronic  portfolio  system  enables   teachers  to  construct,  exchange  and   manage  their  portfolios  more   efficiently”  (Sung,  Chang,  and  Chang,   2009).     References Nikirk, M. (2008). Digital Portfolios. Tech Directions, 68(5), 13-15. Purcell, M. (2011). Digital Portfolios: A Valuable Teaching Tool. School Library Monthly, 27(6), 21-22. Sung,  Y.  T.,  Chang,  K.  E.,  Yu,  W.  C.,  &  Chang,  T.   H.  (2009).  Supporting  teachers'  reflection  and   learning  through  structured  digital  teaching   portfolios.  Journal  Of  Computer  Assisted   Learning,  25(4),  375-­‐385.  doi:10.1111/j.1365-­‐ Willis,  L.,  &  Wilkie,  L.  (2009).  Digital  Career   Portfolios:  Expanding  Institutional   Opportunities.  Journal  Of  Employment   Counseling,  46(2),  73-­‐81.

Digital Portfolios  

This document explains the use of digital portfolios in education.

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