Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Yola as free online portfolio tool

As part of the online course I am teaching for New England College, I am experimenting with free online web development tools. Yola is another one of the tools supported by Salt Lake City Community College. This is the 39th tool that I have used to re-create my electronic portfolio. The process moved fairly smoothly. The tool allowed me to reconstruct my portfolio in less than two hours, copying the information from my Weebly portfolio where I had the URLs on the page (and the links). All of my other artifacts are web links.

The real advantage of Yola is the many different tools, gadgets and widgets available: Flickr Gallery, Flickr Search, SmugMug Gallery, YouTube Video, File, MP3 Player as well as custom HTML and password-protected pages. A custom domain name can be purchased for $29.95 a year. The Pro (paid) version includes a custom domain name and other design features (for $99/year... a little pricey). I created a Table of Contents on the upper left side of the page (the Navigation, with links to each section on the site, which automatically shows on each page. I am impressed with this tool). I was able to create this hyperlinked set of web pages, with no knowledge of HTML.

This program would work well for a presentation portfolio, and Yola would work well if the goal is a learning portfolio, with interactivity and feedback through the blog. Each blog entry can have comments added (using a 3rd party program) and can have categories in addition to tags (like WordPress), and any page can be hidden in navigation menu.  The whole site can be password-protected. Of the two tools, I like the free version of Yola better. I don't know how the premium versions compare.


metacognitive said...

I like the clean look of the Weebly version of your eportfolio but wonder about yet another two hours (probably more) testing yet another potential eportfolio solution. We might be in danger of drowning in a multitude of solutions to stop us drowning in solutions and spending time on expoloring the various exciting possibilities to manage the repository at the expense of the process and content. I finally hitched my own petard to wordpress having tried quite a few approaches and think the arguments for using it are compelling.

Dr. Helen Barrett said...

The purpose of this exercise is to have enough experience with a tool to be able to make recommendations, answer questions, etc. I have experimented with Yola and Weebly because these two tools, plus WordPress, are recommended by Salt Lake Community College for their students to create e-portfolios. I add GoogleApps to my list of recommended free tools, and I needed to know how the tools work. I am teaching an online course, where the students are to select their own tools, so this is just part of my research process.

I agree about the need for tools to manage the repository, and I wrote about the research being done at Stanford on a database to help use keep track of evidence stored in Web 2.0-based sites across the social web. For this class, I am encouraging the students to look at DropBox as a space to store their work. There is a way to address any file in the Public Folder in DropBox. Very interesting. Will do another blog entry about it soon.