I am delighted to launch the second edition of the book Digital Portfolios written by Elizabeth Hartnell-Young and Maureen Morriss, published by Corwin Press. I bought their earlier edition when it first came out, and quoted from it extensively, since it was the first book that was published on this topic. Beginning with the introduction by Barbara Cambridge, the entire book provides an overview of the process of constructing a digital professional portfolio, including some very useful tools. I especially appreciate the permission form and evaluation rubrics provided, with permission to duplicate them provided to purchasers of the book.
The authors have provided an overview of the many issues that can arise from the multiple purposes for developing electronic portfolios. I especially liked the following quote:
While these are legitimate uses for portfolios, when teachers perceive that accountability is viewed as more important than their knowledge and expertise, they can become cynical, and their portfolios tend to be heavy with documentation but light on passion. (p.8)With portfolios being used in many sectors of education and for both summative and formative assessment, it is important to emphasize the elements that contribute to professional growth. This book provides a framework for professional educators to document their growth, maintaining the emotional engagement that gives meaning to the process. Their highlights on vision and knowing oneself provides further emphasis on using portfolios to support learning, not formatting or data.
By capturing the experience of the learning journey, reflecting on its meaning over time, and sharing the learning with others, teachers develop new insights and understanding. (p.27)The book also emphasized the importance of building a personal archive of work (with references to the Cohn & Hibbits article on Lifetime Personal Web Space). The book also provides a focus and guide to reflection. One chapter provides ten practical steps in creating a digital portfolio, beginning with a quote from one of my articles:
A portfolio that is truly a story of learning is owned by the learner, structured by the learner, and told in the learner's own voice. (p.39)A key component of the philosophy in this book is that teachers not only prepare a digital portfolio to help develop their own technology competency while reflecting on their own growth over time, they can also use this opportunity to model the portfolio development process for their students. "By presenting portfolios to various audiences, teachers learn the skills they need to develop with their students." (p.64) I couldn't agree more. A teacher with a digital portfolio is more likely to have students who have digital portfolios. This book's philosophy, that portfolio development is a process of professional growth (p.72), should be valued as a process to support educational reform. The emphasis on process (means) over product (ends).
A fundamental principle of this book is that educators grow professionally as a result of producing a digital portfolio. They become producers as well as consumers of technology, enabling them to become more confident about using it in their daily work. They learn more about using the World Wide Web for teaching, research and for communicating with a global audience. This transfer of knowledge and skills will benefit not only themselves but their students, colleagues, and community. But more fundamentally, educators can show evidence of their deep learning...(p.78)Last weekend, when I told my daughter that I was launching a book on ePortfolios, she asked me when I was going to write my own book. I responded that I had a website and a blog. But when I read Elizabeth and Maureen';s book, I said that I really agreed with what they had to say, so I really didn't need to write a book. But that may change. In the meantime, I highly recommend this new version of Elizabeth and Maureen's book.