How to Build an Online Student Portfolio

A student portfolio has long been used in education to represent a student’s best work. Today, accordion folders are being replaced by digital or online portfolios – interactive, cloud-based catalogs of the student’s best work.

Today, the development of a digital portfolio is at the heart of many college and career readiness programs in high schools across the country. A student portfolio crafts a narrative of learning, growth, and achievement over time. An online student portfolio is a creative means of organizing, summarizing, and sharing artifacts, information, and ideas.

How to Build an Online Student Portfolio @EvaVarga.netAs the focus in the classroom continues to move toward performance-based assessment, building a student portfolio is not only a valuable reflection of who they are but it also serves as an important assessment tool for parents and educators. Additionally, portfolios provide a dynamic presentation for college entrance exams and future job interviews.

Online Student Portfolio Options

Following are six tools that homeschool and public classrooms are using to promote deeper learning by encouraging students to build a collection of personal bests. Choose the tool that suits you – keep in mind what type of work you desire to showcase as well as the age of the student. You’ll also want to consider your level of comfort with material that is publicly accessible.

Blogs & Websites

There are many free blogging and website platforms that provide templates and tools that make creating a website easy and fun. You may already be familiar with Blogger, Weebly, Wix, or WordPress.  Discussing the pros and cons between each of these is fodder for an entirely different post and one that doesn’t really fit my blogging niche. I’ll thereby leave that to the experts. Keep in mind, however, that these options do not give teachers (or parents) any way by which to moderate its use by students.

Evernote

Evernote does just about everything, it is like the Swiss Army knife of organization. As opposed to a blog or website, Evernote allows students to write, take photos, record audio, upload content with the ability to tag items, create notebooks for organization, and share content socially. It is very versatile as it offers a variety of apps that all work great together and can sync across multiple computers and mobile devices. Similar to a blog or website, however, Evernote doesn’t give teachers a way in which to moderate its use by students. Then again, unlike the alternatives, Evernote isn’t publicly viewable, either.

How to Build an Online Student Portfolio @EvaVarga.netGoogle

With Google Sites, students can create media-rich websites to display their work. By starting with a template and a site structure in place, students are able to integrate their work with other Google apps to create a comprehensive story of what they have learned. This obviously means that such apps as SlidesBlogger and YouTube integrate seamlessly.

As long as your students and you have Google Apps for Education accounts, you, as the teacher, have administrative control over who sees student sites and how they are used. Students can create work in Google Docs, save it in Drive, and create a showcase portfolio using Google Sites.  { Admin note: See comments to learn more }

Linkedin

Students 13 and over can use LinkedIn to create a professional presence online, showcasing their work, building out a network of people working in career areas of interest, and finding internships. LinkedIn is becoming a powerful tool to help students navigate their path from high school to college to career.

Pathbrite

With Pathbrite, building a portfolio has never been easier. Drag-and-drop your best images, videos, cloud documents, presentations, LinkedIn recommendations, badges, eTranscripts, web links, and even audio recordings into your portfolios. The platform also has options for educators to optimize student learning and assessment tools.

Seesaw

Empowering students as young as five to independently create and organize their work in a digital journal, Seesaw helps kids develop their academic voice, and collaborate with classmates.

Other Tips for Creating an Online Student Portfolio

Unlike the physical copies of student work that you may have tucked aways in a cardboard box, anything placed on a website such as Google Sites or Weebly will not necessarily be available in five or ten years. Website companies come and go over the years so there is no guarantee that students will have access to their portfolio content in the future.

When creating online portfolios, emphasize with students the long-term uncertainty regarding availability of their digital portfolios and the associated content. I recommend that all students keep their valuable content (graphics, video, audio, text, etc.) stored locally as files on their own computers (and backed up) just in case.

When picking an online portfolio, look for portfolios where the students remain the owners of the data compiled. It’s important that students have access to the content of the portfolio beyond the course or college education.

Lastly, parents, teachers, and students should start at a minimum level and build toward higher levels of implementation as they gain skills and comfort with the process. To learn more about creating digital student portfolios, visit ePortfolio Levels.

 

About Eva Varga

Eva is passionate about education. She has extensive experience in both formal and informal settings. She presently homeschools her two young children, teaches professional development courses through the Heritage Institute, and writes a middle level secular science curriculum called Science Logic. In addition to her work in education, she is an athlete, competing in Masters swimming events and marathons. In her spare time she enjoys reading, traveling, learning new languages, and above all spending time with her family. ♥

6 comments on “How to Build an Online Student Portfolio

  1. Eva,

    Thanks so much for all the time you put into this amazing website, packed with outstanding resources. I have learned so much from you over the years reading your posts.

    Regarding Google apps for Education, … (as far as I know)… in order to get a Google apps for Education account, you have to provide a website URL that ends with .edu Based on my research in trying to get a .edu domain name for our home school, it is not possible to meet their government’s criteria. Therefore, we can not get access to the Google apps for Education platform. Please correct me if I am wrong, or you know of another way to obtain the proper credentials.

    Thanks again!
    Tamra

    • You make an excellent point, Tamra. To be honest, I had not explored obtaining a Google apps for Education account further as we opted to go a different direction (my daughter preferred WordPress and my son chose Wix as they were already familiar with those platforms). Google provides numerous apps that we are able to access without an Google apps for Education account so we have been content.

      My readers are both homeschool and public school teachers. I thereby included it as it may be an option for some. On Facebook, a friend shared another option that I had not previously been aware, Pathbrite, which does provide administrative or parental control over how students use their portfolio and who has access to it. I’ve edited my post to include it. That might be an alternative worth exploring in more depth.

    • I don’t believe a Google apps for Education account is required to use Google Sites (the web building platform / portfolio too) – only for administrative / parental control.

  2. I’m curious about this, as the idea of an online portfolio has never even occurred to me. Can you give me some ideas or examples as to what a student might include? My daughter is entering grade eight (at home) this fall.

    • To be honest, I am not certain what should be included. I have just encouraged her to showcase her best work and to highlight the experiences she has had that may be of interest to potential universities and employers. It is her platform for sharing her successes as well as a portfolio. She has shared photos of her artwork, Mandarin projects (both written and visual), and more recently has begun to post the essays she has completed for her college level writing and social sciences courses.

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