“In the times of rapid change, learners inherit the Earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” ~Eric Hoffer

Friday, May 17, 2013

Digital Portfolios

As I walk through the faculty office I can’t help but notice that another school year is coming to an end. The windows are finally open, it is warm outside, and several of the teacher’s desks are overflowing with stacks of binders, papers and folders. Yes it is that time of year again, projects are due. I could not fathom why in today’s digital world, anyone would want to lug around all that extra stuff. Immediately I thought of Eric Curts’ recent post on Apps User Group, The Big Blank Wall: Embracing EdTech Change and I wondered how many of these projects had become a process and had simply lost their purpose. I also thought this would be a good opportunity to talk about digital portfolios.
A digital portfolio gives the students a place to showcase and reflect on all of their learning experiences with a collection of documents, presentations, videos, audio and blogs. By incorporating these tools you allow the student to take an active role in their learning experience. Many educators have mentioned to me how they see the quality of work rise when students publish their work rather that just turn it in. The new Common Core State Standards address the importance of several skills that can be obtained by creating digital portfolios. For more information I recommend reading Exactly What The Common Core Standards Say About Technology.
Jonan Donaldson states in his article, Digital Portfolios in the Age of the Read/Write Web:

Digital portfolios have become increasingly widespread over the past few decades, and with Web 2.0 tools becoming easier to use, the read/write web has transformed passive consumers of information into producers. This transformation holds enormous potential for pedagogy. Education built around digital portfolios not only ties together various student-generated artifacts into a coherent whole but also creates an environment in which technology use has a clearly identified purpose. Well-designed learning environments organized around published digital portfolios can increase not only academic achievement but also intrinsic motivation, student autonomy, collaborative learning, and digital literacies.

Google Apps for Education has all the tools necessary to produce a digital portfolio. I recommend having each student set up a Google Site using a template that you create, this way they are all structured the same way. It makes it easier for you to find the information and allows the student to focus on learning rather than the appearance of the site. How many times have you watched a PowerPoint heavy on the transitions and light on content? The student can embed Google Docs or Presentations directly into the portfolio. They can also insert images and videos into their Google site easily using Picasa and YouTube. It is time to bring the tri-fold brochures and writing journals into the digital world and Google Apps can help.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Hangouts On Air

Two District 155 teachers have been selected to participate in the Google in Education team's Hangouts On Air next week for Teacher Appreciation Week. So if you are looking for innovative ways to use Chromebooks in your classroom check it out at http://goo.gl/g2VZQ. If you can't catch them live they will be  posted on Youtube later.