Tuesday, May 24, 2011

e-folios

Having spent the past school year requiring each of my students to maintain an e-folio I have learned a lot. I can't imagine going back to the days of accordion folders stuffed with papers, photos, and monstrous posters.

Going electronic was one of the best decisions I have made. The quality of student reflections have improved and it allows them to be a bit more creative with their portfolio. Because my students maintain a website as their e-folio they are able to create multiple pages and subpages, customize their headers, and organize each page in a way that meets their needs. The children are also able to link and embed much of their digital work. This makes a big difference because it provides evidence of what they are talking about.

This is also the first year I have made a concerted effort to have my students add to their e-folio once a week. I am glad for it, too! Not only do they look forward to it, but they become more conscientious of what they create in the classroom. They create things knowing that it will most likely go public on their websites. They also end up creating things with the intention of putting them on their sites. All great successes and yet I will change things next year. At least, slightly.

I host my students websites through an educator account on Weebly. If you are unfamiliar with Weebly, it allows you to create websites and/or blogs. Educator accounts allow you to create and manage student accounts. Having set up the accounts rather generically all I have to do is change the passwords for next year without deleting this year's students' websites.

Next year after handing over the passwords and usernames, I will have my students set up a blog as their e-folio. There have been a few times this year when my students did post completed projects on the blog that is a page on their websites. This provided great opportunity for them to provide each other with feedback very much in the same way many of us do. I would have loved to have provided them with many more opportunities to do this. Having e-folios in blog format would also provide opportunities for my students' friends and family to comment on their Week's Experience. Not to mention that when they tweet their updates there will be opportunities for others to comment.

Even though a website allows my students to create pages for workshops or other categories they come up with, they can do the same with a blog. Bloat in will allow them to create categories. For many of them this will be helpful. I integrate the curriculum quite often and don't like to pigeon hole our learning experiences into any one category. Nor do my students. Oftentimes they would like to out their experience under numerous categories. Having a blog will allow them to do this with tags.

As great as having my students maintain a website as their e-folio is, having it as a blog will provide them with everything they are already capable of doing and more. I already have visions of them creating business cards they can hand out to their family members with a request to add their rss to a feed reader. I can see us hosting a blog party, teaching friends and family how to write a quality comment. Maybe even convincing them to create their own blogs!