The use of technology is essential in our lives and there may be no industry in which its impact is most evident than in education. Educational technologies engage students with the material so that learning is more relevant and more fun. Teachers are using a variety of tools to deliver content efficiently and applications are compatible with mobile devices so learning can continue outside of the classroom. There are online learning blogs and study tools, streaming media, and interactive whiteboards that show events in real time and make learning hands-on. Regardless of the tool, the main functions of classroom technology are to manipulate content and communicate information.
In today’s learning environments, students use laptops to complete assignments and tablets and phones to stream digital content. Teachers use technology to conduct online class discussions, post lectures, and complete grading. Now there is a tool that not only facilitates all these functions but also serves as a warehouse for information and a reliable communication mechanism. That tool is a digital portfolio and it is being used across all educational levels.
Digital portfolios are being adopted as the preferred tool for filing online work. Elementary school students are using them to store all their work, in some cases, to compete in specific contests. High school students are working online to create project portfolios that are being evaluated for grades. College students are creating online resumes that give employers access to their best work and teachers are using digital portfolios to track progress. There are different types of portfolios and each has a specific purpose.
This type serves as an online filing cabinet and provides a type of student history. It contains essays and writing samples, completed homework assignments, oral and written reports, and educational journal entries.
The template for this type of portfolio organizes projects that demonstrate the best work completed by the student. These projects can be individual accomplishments or work completed as part of group. In either case, a showcase portfolio is kind of a brag book that shows a student’s progress over time.
This type of portfolio contains items that are selected by teachers. An assessment portfolio is generally used for communication rather than for display. Grades and assessments, notes and teacher observations, goal accomplishments, and skills and personality inventories can all be part of this online package.
Regardless of the type of online portfolio used, each creates a biography of the student. Accomplishments can be shared easily and both students and teachers can take pride in the tasks that have been successfully completed. Since digital portfolios are great communication tools, parents and significant others can now also view the work and become more involved as part of the learning team. Creating a high level of excitement and confidence about learning is just what the educational technology designers had in mind. The fact that we can all get excited about the system is simply a very positive by-product.