Learning Portfolios are incredibly adaptable and can work both in and out of school and at the educator and student level. Museums, libraries, schools, community centers and many other types of organizations can learn how to support young people in documenting their learning process using free and accessible tools like mobile phones, blogging platforms, and cloud storage.
The Learning Portfolio Approach
DIGITIZE > ORGANIZE > PUBLISH
The Learning Portfolio approach is a multiple step process that can take place over two weeks or even several years. It is an ongoing cycle of creating digital content, organizing and contextualizing that content, and publishing and sharing that content to different audiences.
Let’s break that iterative approach down a little bit…
The heart of Learning Portfolios is the digital documentation of learning experiences, which can be works in progress, reflections, or final products. All of these can become digital “content” which just means things you can share digitally, like images, text, audio files, videos, etc. The first step to getting started with a digital portfolio is making sure you have digital work or “content” to out in it. So depending on your setting, this might mean having young people work on computers more, take digital images of their work, or create using digital tools more often. This is also where digital literacy becomes important. Both educators and students need basic digital literacy skills to make digital content. We’ll share some ways to support digital literacy in a few pages.
Once you start creating digital content, you’ll need to store it somewhere and keep it organized. One option is to use a cloud storage service like Google Drive or Dropbox to hold your content. Another option is to post work to a blog, using a platform like Blogger or tumblr. This option helps you keep a running record of your process that starts to tell a learning story. And don’t forget to an important step of naming and tagging your work. This keeps your content organized and searchable. Depending on the content you can tag it with terms like “work in progress,” “reflection,” “inspiration,” or “final product.”
What good is having a bunch of work but not sharing it? This part of the process is key for young people to practice sharing their learning story with an audience. It can also happen in phases – maybe at first they share their work with their class and get feedback and then later share a more revised version with a more public audience. That’s up to you! Sharing work can happen in different forms as well including as a slideshow, a blog with a menu that connects to tagged posts, or a more static website.
Knowing Where to Start
Do I have enough computers?
Do my students already keep a physical portfolio?
Do I have time in class for reflection and revision?
You probably have a lot of questions about whether you can support learning portfolios in your classroom and where to begin.
The Learning Portfolio Project has developed a short survey with questions that can help you determine where you should start in the Digitize > Organize > Publish cycle.
Best Practices for Learning Portfolios in Schools
- Secure administrative buy-in
- Create a Design Team of interested educators to tailor the LP approach to your context, meet monthly to share tech skills, challenges and successes
- Pull together a team of student “tech leaders” to help support digital literacy skills (Check out Mouse for more information
- Dream big, but start small
- Create a digital documentation station in the classroom to capture digital content
- Model what you want students to create by encouraging educators to start their own learning portfolio (this can start as a class blog)
- Support digital literacy and trouble-shooting skill development throughout the process
- Stay open to new and unexpected ways of documenting and publishing. There is no “right” way or best tool to use to create a Learning Portfolio.