ePortfolios and their Digital Footprints
article by Anne Arriaga and Shawna Martin
The use of portfolios as a means for students and teachers to reflect on their learning over the course of a year or longer has been an integral part of the structure of courses at Moreau Catholic. Portfolios have been used in diverse departments such as English and the Visual and Performing Arts. Now, however, Moreau Catholic is leveraging our investment in technology and 21st Century skill building to expand the use of portfolios into other departments by using student-selected digital evidence to document growth and achievement of the school’s expected learning results.
ePortfolios or digital portfolios have been used educationally in a variety of ways but lately there has been a surge in high schools implementing ePortfolio initiatives that span the curriculum and all four years of high school. The driving force behind this shift often begins with the fact that, more and more, students now express the results of their learning in electronic format - in audio and video files, digital images, and web 2.0 tools - formats that do not fit in a physical folder, showcase, or on a home refrigerator. Practicality aside, educators are finding that the essential components of a student ePortfolio are key to student learning: (1) it is student driven. Students choose what goes in the ePortfolio; (2) there’s a reflection component. Students reflect on their learning for each uploaded artifact and therefore engage in metacognition; (3) there’s an authentic audience. Students are able to share their work with others through a personal URL; and (4) there’s a connection to learning outcomes. Expected schoolwide learning results and expected department learning results rise to a level of consciousness as students connect their own learning to expected outcomes.
In an era when doors in the larger world are opened or closed based on how one is represented online (think of inappropriate images on facebook or false job histories on LinkedIn), this initiative will help students learn how to develop a positive digital footprint. Currently in the first year of our pilot project, ePortfolios are being rolled out in English and Theology classes. Next year, the program will span all departments (which will allow for more cross-curricular connections) and will include both the frosh and sophomore classes. This program will continue each year until all class years are included.