How to get started with Student Digital Portfolios?

digital portfolio

Digital portfolios are an important part of the students’ learning journey. Digital portfolios are often described as a collection of artifacts. Those could be marksheets, photographic collections of project-based learning, an essay or videos. Is that all a digital portfolio is all about? 

The answer is NO

A good digital portfolio also represents a process of generating learning by reflecting on one’s experience. So students can not only see their project work or artifacts but also evaluate their own learnings, captured in their own words.

Reflection helps impart a holistic learning experience as students get actively engaged in their projects or assignments and document their process throughout.

What makes a good digital portfolio for students?

Student’s digital portfolios make the learning stick by the student’s side. Students learn to document, curate and make choices based on their interests. Portfolios also allow students to think critically about their work and instil self-confidence to showcase their work.

So what makes a good digital portfolio?

A good digital portfolio for student is not just a collection of artifacts. It is about being a product that entails the final outcomes of projects and the process associated with them. Students can capture the process while building an artifact, document with reflection on what worked, what did not and think about the scope for improvement. Note both successes and failures. The process of maintaining a portfolio encourages students to be actively involved throughout.

Student Digital Portfolios as a Learning Tool: Digital Portfolios “are a way to generate learning as well as document learning” (Basken, 2008). Documenting the process of learning is important since the process that goes behind the learning often gets neglected otherwise. When students build their portfolios, it provides them with a space to evaluate their work, reflect on it and make connections between different yet overlapping topics and activities.

Digital portfolios support students’ knowledge construction, building on existing knowledge. Learning happens most effectively when students construct knowledge for themselves; they are actively involved in the learning process. Students can better form their knowledge network when they share their work and learnings with others (peers/teachers). These interactions with their peers and mentors can give them insights that they may not have otherwise thought of, thus enriching their own learning.

So creating a portfolio and sharing it with friends and family is like sharing a story of your learning.

How to get started with digital portfolios?

So far, we discussed the power of digital portfolios and how students can reap the benefits of starting their portfolios early on.

The question here is, how do students get started with digital portfolios:

  • Start with students’ aspirations Students can start with having a wishlist of things they want to achieve. That can include what they want to become when they grow up, their career aspirations, their dream projects, and hobbies they want to develop. Think of this as having a bucket list while still in school. You can also name it a goal list. 
  • Start with one artifact Teachers/Parents can help students to start with one artifact. It could be a small project or an essay. Have students reflect on the challenges they had while working on that project. Alternatively, have students ponder how the things they learned in their coursework relate to real-life. What are the real-life applications? Have them write a short paragraph about the same.
  • Discuss benefits of digital portfolios with students Digital portfolios can help learners develop deeper learning, which results in broadening their knowledge. Having your own portfolio brings a sense of ownership and individuality. An E-portfolio can be shown as evidence of learning while applying for higher studies, internships and jobs.
  • Show examples of digital portfolios created by students Teachers/parents can show examples of digital portfolios created by school/college students to inspire students to make one for themselves. This portfolio example highlights course skills.

With MySphere, students can easily build their portfolios. Digital portfolios are a great way to showcase the learning journey by showing what students have learned and how they have applied the learning to their creations enriched with their narratives.

Digital portfolio for students

How to get the most out of student digital portfolios?

From amateur artists to curious science and tech enthusiasts, students can showcase their skills and learning experiences with their digital portfolios.

How do we get the most out of portfolios:

  • First things first. Let students choose the medium of expression/platform. Some might prefer to start their blog, some may want to form a series of videos, some may want to visually illustrate their learning journey and others may find joy in building a website of their own. 
  • Let students take ownership of their e-portfolio in terms of organization structure. Let them decide how they want to share their learning journey, thematically or chronologically. Some may decide early on and for some, the structure may evolve as students grow and move forward in academics.
  • Remember, the portfolio is not just an end product or collection. It is a process of reflecting on those artifacts and what those learnings represent. Let students reflect on their learning process.
  • Have students choose what to showcase from a variety of work. They will have their best work, favourite projects and work that demonstrates skill improvement and self-growth over a period of time. 
  • Plan now. Students do not have to wait until the end of the semester or a year to start the portfolio building process. Integrating the portfolio processes into the classroom can be beneficial for students as well as teachers. Students can select their work, organize it in the portfolio and write reflections periodically. 

In summary, by using digital portfolios as a tool and an everyday component of the learning process, students can take agency and can get to showcase their work, capture their learnings/ experiences and identify their own interests.

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