Thursday, May 03, 2018

GSuite & ePortfolios

I was recently asked: "What are your thoughts about using a Google Site (for education) as a way to keep a “running record” or a living resume for students within the public school system?" Here is my response:

For the last ten+ years, I have been an advocate for using Google Apps for Education (or GSuite as it is now called) to develop and maintain student ePortfolios. I have conducted hands-on workshops to support this process. For example: (A university in Mexico using ePortfolios to assess English Language skills in lieu of the TESOL) (an online course I developed for K-12 teachers to use Google tools for ePortfolios) (a generic resource site on using a variety of Google tools)

The literature on portfolio development identifies these portfolio processes: Collection, Selection, Reflection, Direction (Goal Setting), Presentation and Feedback/Assessment. Based of that literature, and my experience with technology, I have identified three levels of ePortfolio development, as articulated in these sites:
  • Level 1: Storage (Collection) using Google Drive (storing documents created with any one of the tools: Docs, Sheets, Slides or videos stored in Drive)
  • Level 2: Reflective Journal (Reflection/Direction) with a blogging tool such as Blogger (an ongoing learning journal used to reflect on growth over time, organized in chronological order)
  • Level 3: Showcase (Selection/Presentation) in Google Sites (a thematically-organized showcase of the highlights of a learners’ achievements)
There is also a fourth level (Feedback at Level 2 or Formative/Summative Assessment at Level 3) that involves teachers. 
NOTE: there is not one showcase, but really multiple showcases customized for different purposes and audiences: college application, employment, scholarships, high school graduation, etc. Here is a diagram that was part of research projects in the U.K.:

These processes can also be accomplished with other tools, such as Microsoft Office 365, or WordPress, or the Mahara open source ePortfolio system, developed by the Ministry of Education in New Zealand. I prefer GSuite because it is free to education, and has most of the tools needed for developing the artifacts (individual pieces of work) that are used to construct an online portfolio.

I recently presented a keynote address to a group of educators in Europe who conducted a research project across 11 European countries, on the implementation of ePortfolios to demonstrate what they called “transversal” skills (we call them 21st Century Skills) for middle school students:
Notice the title of my presentation: Know Thyself. For me, and the research that I have conducted over the last 25 years, the heart and soul of the portfolio process is Reflection, and what learners realize about themselves as they reflect on their growth over time. My presentations also emphasize how ePortfolios support these lifelong learning skills: 

About 7 or 8 years ago, I conducted a series of online courses that I called the REAL* ePortfolio Academy: *Reflection, Engagement, Assessment for Learning. I provided the Google Apps version of the course above). I also believe that, with most middle/high school and college students having super computers in their pockets, incorporating the use of mobile apps and tools are an important part of the process:

Here is a paper I wrote that was published by the British Columbia Ministry of Education on Balancing the Two Faces of ePortfolios: (notice the translation of the diagram into multiple languages, shared with me by educators from around the world.