Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Inquiry from K-12 Technology Coordinator

Here is an excerpt of an inquiry from a K-12 administrator for a school district in Texas:
I am the Director of Instructional Technology at the -- School District in --, TX.  Our district would like to implement electronic portfolios as a digital collection of evidence for learning.  There has been various committees that have worked on this program for several years and have struggled getting it off the ground.  Several teachers have implemented portfolios in their classroom, but we are wanting a solution that can be implemented district-wide.  During my research, I found your site and have shared it with the committee members.

During our meeting yesterday, it was suggested that I contact you and to discuss ways you can lead and support us in this journey.  We are a Google Apps for Education district and have decided that Google Sites would be our platform for our portfolio system...

I would love the opportunity to discuss how you can help us fulfill this goal of providing our students with a repository for their work.
Here is my response:

Have you found my online course on ePortfolios with Google Apps?
Since you are a Google Apps district, you also have Google Drive to establish a digital collection of student work (the first level). You can use Blogger (or Google Sites Announcement page type) to support students maintaining a reflective journal (the second level). Google Sites provides the framework for a showcase portfolio (the third level). Are you using either Hapara’s Teacher Dashboard or Google Classroom to help teachers manage student collaboration work?

I am a believer in student-centered portfolios, where students use their portfolios to learn about themselves by reflecting on their own work. There are multiple purposes for developing e-portfolios, but self-understanding as reflected in the work products themselves, as well as reflections that the students write about their own learning is, in my opinion, the heart and soul of a student-centered portfolio. There are trade-offs between institution-centered goals (graduation requirement, standards, etc.) and student-centered goals (more of a learning journal that becomes a “laboratory for constructing meaning”). I am doing a keynote address at a conference in New Zealand next month with the title, “Know Thyself: ePortfolios and Reflective Stories of Deep Learning.” 

I have worked with other states and school districts to help them implement ePortfolios; i.e., New Hampshire, New York City Schools, Eastern Sierra USD (CA), Richland SD2 (SC), ASB (Mumbai, India). Here is a success story from ASB: and
Between 2009 and 2013, I worked with the White Oak School District there in Texas to help their teachers implement ePortfolios (they use both Google Apps and EduBlogs):

Have you looked at other schools who have successfully implemented ePortfolios? My favorite is the High Tech High schools in the San Diego area. (some schools use Google Sites, others have students create their own websites using their school web server). From my visit to their schools, I found that the portfolio process is infused throughout the curriculum (and the students I talked with LOVED their DPs—digital portfolios). They use their portfolios to support three Presentations of Learning a year (PoLs) and student-led conferences. Here is a case study written for me by teachers in a high school in the Boston area:

How many schools and teachers are supporting the portfolio development process (and how many of them have their own ePortfolios)? At what grade levels are you wanting to implement ePortfolios? Where are you in the process? Do you have an implementation plan for your ePortfolios? I focus on building an implementation plan in my online course noted above. I looked at the websites that you provided, and each can be a framework for student and teacher portfolios. You will notice that one option in the lessons in my course is for the learner to construct a professional ePortfolio.

I am available to work with your committee and teachers if you like. I can help your committee set up professional development for teachers (beginning with their own professional portfolios???).  I can start with a free single hour-long Skype/Google Hangout with your committee or I can do face-to-face meetings or workshops with your teachers. I could even facilitate a customized version of my online course for your teachers. It is up to you and your budget and what kind of PD works best in your district.

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