Yesterday our department (EDTECH at Boise State) hosted a meeting with Helen Barrett, a well-known consultant in the field of eportfolios. Her website is phenomenal and is filled with many ideas and ways to use eportfolios. I learned a lot, especially about the different types and purposes of portfolios (workspace versus showcase) and what they can mean to the learner and the teacher. Since our department is now offering an M.E.T. degree with the culmination being a portfolio, we want to make sure our students have the best opportunity to create excellent, meaningful portfolios.
Helen argues that portfolio software is not the best type of platform to use for student portfolios. One of the main reasons is their rigid structure, offering little flexibility and creativity to the student, reducing the student’s ownership in his/her learning progress. She does, however, suggest that teachers provide some support, with several examples of portfolios for students to view, as well as ideas for how the portfolio can be organized and presented. She strongly supports using blogs as a “learning log,” or workspace for students to develop and then showcase their progress, turning a blog into an eportfolio. I couldn’t agree with her more. Which leads me to think (again) about blogs and their potential and come up with my own 10 reasons for using a blogging platform for an eportfolio:
(Note the words in bold: input, organization, retrieval, display. These words are all part of an ideal eportfolio system, and criteria that blogs easily offer.)
- Blogs can be set up in a flash, are free, do not require any specialized knowledge of html.
- Blogs can be personalized through selecting a theme, adding widgets, and adjusting blog settings.
- Blogs include the ability for readers to comment on posts, encouraging formative evaluation and feedback by instructors and students.
- Blogs provide very flexible ways to input data, such as write posts, embed objects, attach files, and link to other files, with each post having a unique “permalink.”
- Blog categories, tags, and pages offer various methods of organization for blog posts.
- Blogs allow easy ways for retrieval and display of information, through tags, categories, and searching for keywords.
- Blogs or individual blog posts can be set up as private or password-protected, to encourage more reflective writing that is naturally part of an eportfolio.
- Blog content can be exported to other types of blogs or websites, embedded on websites, and reconfigured in numerous ways.
- Blogs are dynamic, which means users can subscribe to them using RSS or email, receiving automatic updates when new content is posted.
- Blogs provide detailed statistics, which can help the creator identify where the readership is coming from and what posts are the most popular.