Cultivating Curious Minds Blog

This blog on the Cultivating Curious Minds website provides information, strategies technology tools, and resources for educators on increasing innovation in the classroom, international education, and effective professional development

Passion Projects and E-Portfolios

As my students continue working on their Passion Projects, an integral part of the process is tracking their progress and monitoring their learning. Thus, including an e-portfolio where students document their steps with the design process was an important component of the project.

What is An E-Portfolio?

An e-portfolio is a collection of digital artefacts assembled on the web. The objective of an e-portfolio is to demonstrate your learning journey over time.

E-portfolios are one of the "buzz" words in education, but how do we create e-portfolios that are a valuable component of the learning process?

According to Dr. Helen Barett, e-portfolios can fall into one of two categories: the positivist approach (using e-portfolios for learning) or the constructivist approach (using portfolios as learning. A portfolio for learning is generally a portfolio that students work on for a short period of time such as for a culminating project in a course whereas a portfolio as learning often has an extended time frame.

In my framework, though students use portfolios as a component of their culminating project, I try to aid students in building e-portfolios that can be considered "living" documents that students can take with them, modify and expand upon in lieu of being considered a static entity. This can help build deeper meaning and engagement with the process of developing their e-portfolios.

Guidelines for Creating Effective E-Portfolios:

  • Allow students choice in the artefacts they choose to share
  • Provide students with choice with which tool they choose to create their portfolio
  • Try sharing portfolios with an authentic audience
  • Know your timeline
  • If you are using a portfolio as a culminating product, introduce it early-provide students with opportunities to build their portfolio throughout the term
  • Provide students with exemplars of effective portfolios

Information to include in E-Portfolios:

  • Samples of term work
  • Process work for on-going projects
  • Journal entries
  • Reflections
  • Articles and noteworthy information they curated throughout the term

Portfolio Design:                         

In terms of portfolio design, in my experience, do not assume prior knowledge. Instead, review with students principles of effective web design.

Some of the most important aspects of portfolio design I go over with my students are:

Typography:

Students should choose typography most suitable for their audience. Generally speaking serif (with feet) fonts are more formal than sans-serif (without feet) fonts.

Usually selecting two typography styles (one for headers and one for body text) can create a complementary effect.

Here is a great article on fonts that work nicely together.

Communication:

 In order to effectively communicate in digital format it is important to break up information into smaller blocks of text (no one likes to read giant, length paragraphs!) instead, organize info into smaller chunks, bold key points, and separate with  headers and graphics.

Spacing:

Websites should have a balance between positive (filled) and negative (unfilled space). Direct students to not over crowd their portfolios but also do not leave them sparse or bare.

Navigation:

Navigation is of the UTMOST importance when it comes to portfolio design (or web design in general). The website should be clear and easy to navigate with clear headings that link to the various pages of the site.

Colour:

Contrast, using colour, can add a nice visual effect to your image. As a general rule of thumb, colours that are either across from each other or beside each other on the colour wheel (as seen below) are complementary to each other. However, beware of selecting font colours that are difficult to read!

colourwheelcultivatingcuriousminds

 

Websites to create E-Portfolios:

The following are web creators that my students like to use to create their e-portfolios

Wix

Pros:

  •  Easy to use,
  • A wide variety of premade templates to choose from

Cons:

  • Slow loading time
  • No built-in comment feature (individuals need to be logged into Facebook to comment)

Weebly

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Variety of options and templates

Cons:

  • The free option of Weebly is limited
  • Templates do not allow for a substantial level of customization

Google Sites

Pros:

  • Integrated with your Gmail Account
  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • Limited templates
  • If used on a school account, Google Sites might not be the most viable option for long-term use as once the student leaves the school the account will likely be inaccessible to them

 

I hope this information helps you get started using e-portfolios in the classroom! How do you use e-portfolios in the classroom? What tools do you use? Please comment below! :)