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Using e-Portfolios in school

Gone are the days when portfolios were just for those children studying art or design. They are an incredibly powerful tool that can be used right from Early Years to UCAS applications, not least because they put the child at the very heart of the learning journey, facilitating evaluative feedback and self-reflection.

With more and more schools migrating to the "cloud" and going paperless it has become much easier to share children’s work, making it accessible to teachers and parents, and organising it in a way that makes sense to the age, stage or preferences of the child.

If you believe that children should be given every opportunity to take an active role in the learning process, then ePortfolios is an idea worth exploring.

What is an ePortfolio?

Helen Barrett, Assistant professor, School of Education, University of Alaska, defines a portfolio as a “purposeful collection of student work that exhibits the student's efforts, progress, and achievements in one or more areas. The collection must include student participation in selecting content, the criteria for selection, the criteria for judging merit, and evidence of student self-reflection.”

An ePortfolio could be used to

1. Show projects the child is currently working on or has recently completed.

2. Showcase the child's best work.

3. Assess a child’s progress.

4. Any combination of the above.

The challenge is designing an ePortfolio program that will work for you, one that truly impacts on teaching and learning.

Things to consider when setting up ePortfolios

Todd Bergman (teacher and independent consultant) offers these guidelines for people interested in developing ePortfolios in their schools or classrooms:

• Be realistic about your design and expectations.

• Instil a sense of ownership in the students creating the portfolios.

• Communicate implementation strategies and timelines clearly.

• Allow for continuous improvement and growth.

• Make sure portfolio content meets the needs of those assessing the work.

ePortfolios in Firefly

Firefly offers great benefits when collating children’s work into an ePortfolio. Whether you create individual blogs within your subject or class areas or choose to enable Personal Sections, children can create or upload digital content that reflects their own learning journey. Our new blogs mean that children can create their ePortfolios in a way that suits them and easily organise their digital content, navigating from the blog homepage to intelligently archived older posts.

Integration with your school’s MIS means that these ePortfolios can remain private, within the child’s Personal Section, or be shared with other users in Firefly, such as teachers, parents and peers. Powerful discussions can be initiated as children are able to comment reflectively on their own digital content and teachers can provide private feedback. Permissions can also be set up within your Firefly site so that that children can view, comment and give feedback on one another’s digital content. Finally, using Personal Section means that the child’s ePortfolio stays with them throughout school. For example, digital content can be tracked year on year from Prep to Senior School, providing an excellent reflection of a child’s achievement and development throughout their school life.

Todd Bergman says that "Kids really take ownership and pride in the portfolio process," adding that they find it empowering to be able to" develop particular aspects of their portfolios based on what is important to them, their unique knowledge, and their unique skills.” However, you choose to use ePortfolios, they are a natural fit with the digital world that our children are growing up in. With such an array of possibilities available to us as educators, the only limiting factor is our imaginations.

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