Two weeks ago I participated in the Leadership 2.0 Open Course hosted by George Couros. The first session, Creating a Digital Portfolio, was well “attended”, and I’d recommend that you participate in one of the other free sessions over the next seven weeks.
You can read about that first session on George’s blog, or check out the Twitter feed. During the presentation, George’s use of his blog highlighted the ways a blog could be used as a learning portfolio.
For many educators, simply saying the word portfolio sends shivers up their spines. Personally, I created portfolios as an undergrad, teacher, graduate student, and administrator. I’ve also reviewed countless portfolios that were lugged into my office by eager teacher candidates or veteran teachers “demonstrating” their mastery of teaching. Many of those portfolios were simply galleries used to store artifacts that may or may not accurately represent the portfolio’s creator. Unfortunately, many portfolios have simply become a “dog and pony” show. So why has such a seemingly positive learning experience become so negative to me and many other educators? My bitterness towards these portfolios really has little to do with the medium used to create the portfolio, but rather the poor process of creating and reflecting on the portfolio. George’s portfolio embraced the many characteristics that should be part of any portfolio. Although the blog format isn’t what makes his blog successful, the technology sure makes things easier! If you choose, or are forced to create a learning portfolio for yourself or your students, here are some key points that may help make your portfolio more relevant and meaningful.
- Create a portfolio that makes sharing with others easy! As a principal, my first screening of candidates was a google search. If I found that an educator had created a positive digital footprint on a blog or another digital tool, they would move up on my list!
- Use a tool that makes it easy to give and receive feedback. Those three inch binders don’t serve that purpose very well! If you do choose a tool that allows for public feedback, you will need to have serious conversations about how feedback is provided. I like a public portfolio because it provides the learner with a wider audience than simply a teacher or principal.
- Use multiple forms of media on your portfolio. Others want to read, see, and hear about your learning. Videos and images can certainly enhance your portfolio.
When educators ask me about my preference of a technology tool, my first response is always to ask what objective they are trying to accomplish. Creating a portfolio is no different. If you can clearly identify WHY you are creating a portfolio, it will be much easier to decide what tool works best for you. Unfortunately, the why has often been poorly defined or for poor reasons. As educators, we should recognize the value of reflecting on our work as well as receiving feedback on that work. A blog, if designed appropriately is one very transparent way to create such a learning environment.