Some time in the last two weeks, I found myself rethinking the use of Google Sites, part of Google Apps for Education, as a place to store student ePortfolios. That’s too bad because moving from grades to portfolio-based assessments is as important an issue as ever.
Change anything else without doing away with the tyranny of age-based grades and your reform will fail because students will never be allowed to truly develop as humans – at a rate and in a pattern appropriate for their own needs. Only when you toss out this industrial structure – the Prussian Model – can teachers and students really begin to re-imagine school. Source: Changing the Structure
Earlier this year, in collaboration with others, I developed a webquest–modelled after my Copyright WebQuest–that helped staff rethinking grading policies. The web quest is called GradeQuest and you can find it online. The webquest discussed the issues with grading, but I’m not sure it adequately, if at all, addressed the transition to ePortfolios.
School districts that have embraced GoogleApps for Education have access to Google Sites, a wiki platform where each student could potentially have an ePortfolio. Unfortunately, as discovered in conversations via Google Certified Teachers (GCT) list last week, I found that transferring ownership of those to students once they left the school district wasn’t that easy. So, what to do?
One answer involves having students use third party sites to create their ePortfolios. This, of course, takes them beyond the school district’s control and ability to adjust in case an unfortunate incident occurs. There’s also the issue of under 13 year olds creating web sites that house confidential student data, easily hosted on a district-external site.
White Oak ISD in Texas has implemented ePortfolios for students–relying on Edublogs to host all their content–and their goals are outlined on the web site:
Welcome to the Roughneck Blogs and ePortfolios site. We are proud to offer this resource to our staff and students. The goals of this site are:
Provide a stable, long term platform for students to display an electronic portfolio of work that they feel portrays their abilities
Provide a communication portal for staff to share information with students, parents, and the community
Instead of building up servers, White Oak ISD has taken the novel step of hosting all their eportfolios elsewhere. Since the portfolios are centered around WordPress, a free open source blogging platform, it’s very easy to issue students a complete backup of their site or spin it off to it’s own web address. This is infinitely easier than dealing with ePortfolios on GoogleSites within the GoogleApps for Education. I hope that GoogleApps will improve on this and make it easy to share student eportfolios on GoogleSites with others outside the school’s control.
Whatever the technology, there is some major shifts in thinking that have to happen to bring ePortfolios into schools. It seems that even though the technology has improved, we still have a ways to go with the underlying thinking, processes, and planning.
Check out Miguel’s Workshop Materials online at http://mglearns.wikispaces.com