Case Studies

Learning Portfolio Case Studies and Examples

The Learning Portfolio Project is currently supporting educators and young people in both formal and informal learning contexts to digitally document their learning process. Educators and young people are using blogs, slideshows, websites, and many other digital tools to create learning portfolios that serve a range of purposes including graduating high school, applying to college, and starting a career.

Below are examples of learning portfolios from three contexts: a pre-college program at a university, a small arts-focused public high school, and an out-of-school visual arts program.

DreamYard Preparatory High School

DreamYard Prep Portfolio Team

Rudy Blanco works with the  DYP Student Portfolio Team during a teacher professional development workshop

Rudy Blanco, Director of Digital Learning

At DreamYard Preparatory High School (DYP), we’ve been on a four year journey exploring digital portfolios, digital literacy and the use of technology in all content areas to create content that is meaningful and reflective of young people’s experiences both in and outside of the classroom and across all subject areas.

We’ve learned so much during this journey but there are a few things which are so important to the process, that looking back, I don’t think we would have made it this far without them. Starting a digital portfolio process in your school would be very tough without having a solid digital literacy foundation with students and staff, a space for students to learn and use new technology and tools and a student portfolio team to help teach others how to move the process forward.

I started working at DYP as a Special Education Algebra and Global History teacher and after three years, I realized the dire need for technology in our school and transitioned into the Technology Coordinator role. A result of this position led to the creation of a technology class where students learned how to use their new school Google accounts and practiced the use of Google Docs, Slides and Drive.

Over the years, this class has changed from a “technology” class to a Digital Literacy class and during the 2016-2017 academic year, the class will become a Digital Portfolio Development class offered to students so that they can continue learning their content creation and content organization skills. More importantly, they will be offered a class where they will be able to delve deeper into the creation and curation of their online portfolios.

Very rarely do young people in high schools get a chance to fully show off what they have learned and the things they have done to grow over the course of their high school careers. And more often than not, student work is lost over time and so much valuable learning experiences disappear as students grow and move on to different classes and opportunities.

Digital Portfolios are a way for students, teachers, family, future employers and many other high stakeholders in the lives of our young people to have a glimpse in what our students are doing to move their lives and their individual learning forward. Most importantly, we hope that Digital Portfolios will provide a place where students are able to demonstrate mastery across various areas of their lives from academics, artistry and character to professional experiences as well as college and career readiness. In creating these portfolios, students are also able to have a place that can serve as a self-reflection for some of their most transformative years of their lives.

When we first started, our school was running on about 25 fully functional computers and when we began portfolios, students were given rigorous practice on using Google Apps for Education, specifically Google Drive, Docs and Slides. DYP spent about two years establishing a culture of digital literacy and digital content creation which was crucial to really allow the portfolio work to blossom. This is by far the most important piece because without digital content, it would be very difficult to create a digital portfolio. We worked very closely with teachers in helping them create lessons that integrated digital tools into their curriculum and showed students how to organize their work in Drive so that they can later return to it for use in a Digital Portfolio. Today, students are finally using to develop portfolio sites that are unique, creative and all-inclusive of the student experience.

The biggest challenges we came across was the lack of digital literacy and tech resources in our school. To handle this, we created a Digital Literacy class for 9th graders and we tasked our Mouse Squad, our student tech team, to help the school learn the digital literacy skills necessary in order to move the work forward. They did this by pushing into classrooms and providing teachers and peers with one on one support in using new tools for digital content creation. Students have also been responsible in providing professional development for staff in how to use things like Docs, Drive, Slides and Classroom.

As for tech resources, we shifted from purchasing Lenovo and Macs to Chromebooks which were more affordable and worked very well with our pre-existing Google Apps for Education work. As we got more technology our Mouse Squad also developed the skills necessary to troubleshoot that tech and make sure that they were in working across all classrooms.

Now that we have finally reached a point where our school is comfortable enough creating digital content, we are now ready to start developing actual portfolios. In October of 2015, we created a Student Portfolio team who has been avidly working on learning the process and have been developing ways to teach this to other students. In the fall of 2016, we will be creating two Digital Portfolio Development classes to continue the work and the Portfolio Team will be made into Teaching Assistants and interns that will support those classes in the creation of their portfolios.

Example student learning portfolios:

Melyse’s portfolio:

Noorjahan’s ELA  blog:

ELA portfolio example

A slide from a DYP student ELA learning portfolio.


DreamYard Art Center

Art Center class blog

Bronx Art Collective’s class blog

Example educator blogs:

Carla Repice’s Bronx Art Collective:

Moriah Carlson’s Fashion Class:

Example student learning portfolios:

Michela’s portfolio:

George’s portfolio:

Michela Adjei, DreamYard alumni

Michela, an alumni of the DreamYard Art Center’s Bronx Art Collective program, shares her experience developing a learning portfolio at Parsons’ Portfolio Summit:

Michela's learning portfolio

Screenshot of Michela’s learning portfolio

Parsons Pre-College

Example educator blogs:

Tyler Kelley’s Printmaking class:

Ryan Raffa Creative Technology:\

Parsons Online Portfolio Class:

Example student learning portfolios:

Chet’s blog:

Noelia’s blog:

Wendy’s portfolio:

Emma’s blog:

Parsons' online development class

Screenshot of Parsons’ online portfolio development class


Parsons student learning portfolio

Screenshot of Parsons’ student learning portfolio





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