The ePortfolio is about capturing those snippets and samples of learning that take place through the year, whether big or small. Having all of this catalogued in one place means being able to review the progress and the learning journey itself, which is a perfect tool to encourage student reflection and celebrating success.
Much like a traditional paper-based learning journal, each ePortfolio artefact is essentially a page, which is sorted into a Section and Chapter. The big difference here is that artefacts can be moved around to another sections/chapters easily, plus instead of a flat two-dimensional workspace to paste in samples, users get a web page per artefact to construct and contextualise their work.
ePortfolios are meant to be student owned and directed, so as to ensure personal investment in the process and purpose. However, one difficulty with running a 100% student-owned portfolio is that teacher-directed tasks or activities are not easily or uniformly distributed, especially when dealing with a whole class or cohort of students.
The Folio Tasks feature in uSpace has been designed to help with this process. Essentially following on from the Tasks module in the virtual classroom, the Folio Tasks module allows teachers to design and publish page templates directly to their students. Folio Tasks also have a start and end time, so students will see the deadline of when an activity needs to be completed. Teachers can then review the submission and publish it directly to the student’s ePortfolio, down to the specific Section and Chapter entered.
Another advantage of using the Folio Tasks is that the original copy of the student submission stays with the teacher, whilst a duplicate is sent to the child’s portfolio. That way, should further edits or modifications (or removal) of the artefact be performed by the student on their own page, the teacher will still have the official copy in their archive—particularly useful where copies need to be retained for assessment purposes.
One of the advantages of having a social network tied in with the ePortfolios is that it’s a lot easier to share work with classmates or teachers and invite feedback.
With the Buddy system in uSpace, users can choose to share ePortfolio artefacts with all their Buddies, only selected individuals, or just to their Teachers and Parents. Visiting users can preview the work, and if it has been enabled for that page, add a comment in the attached feedback area.
Students can use this to workshop ideas or help in identifying areas for improvement next time. Teachers can encourage this practice in order to boost student critical analysis of work—especially in conjunction with the official rubric—and use this platform to develop stronger articulation of ideas/opinions amongst students.
With Parent Portal functionality enabled, the ePortfolio is also a great tool for establishing a more dynamic and engaging reporting process.
Teachers can attach a formal grade or response to each artefact, which the student has the ability to reply or add to if required.
Because parents have automatic access to the portfolio pages when they sign in, they can preview the actual work sample and the teacher’s assessment of it. Parents can then choose to respond or add to the comment, facilitating three-way reporting using clear links to assessment evidence and judgement. That way, parents can plainly see how their child is doing and what they can do to help should this be required.