This year I am supporting our school English as an Additional Language (EAL) department set up E-Portfolios for their students. As we are a Google school the obvious solution is to use Google Sites, and we are now in the process of establishing a workflow that will facilitate the following:
- The creation of a folder system that both students and teachers can easily find and access.
- Ways for students to to quickly collect and organise high quality evidence of their learning in the folders and in multiple formats. The ones that come to mind include: google docs, images, pdf, audio (mp3) and video (mp4).
- A process students can follow to select artifacts for their portfolio and reflect on the learning they represent.
What follows is a brain dump of the systems and ideas we have come up with so far:
I used the Doctopus Sheets Add-On to set up the folder system. This is an amazing Add-On but there are a lot of moving parts and it always takes me a bit of time to figure out how it works. I was sent a list of EAL students with their school email addresses in a Sheets document and ran the Doctopus add on, which created a folder in my drive for each student and shared it with them as well. If you have never used Doctopus before, it also create a View folder and an Edit folder for each student, which were the best way to manage sharing docs until Classroom came along.
Once all the students had the main folder shared with them I ran Doctopus again and assigned them all the portfolio folder structure that the EAL teachers requested.
Once everything was set up I went to each of the EAL classes and taught the students how to:
- Add the shared folder to their Drive and put it in a folder.
- How to bookmark the folder in Chrome
- How to add the folder to their Starred list
I set up this self paced activity for the students to follow that worked quite well: Getting Started with Google Portfolios.
While Doctopus has worked quite well there have been a number of challenges, these include:
- I forgot to double check the original spreadsheet of names and email before running Doctopus. I inadvertently missed a few details and assigned the wrong portfolio to students.
- I found it difficult to add new students to my original roster. Instead I had to create a new roster, which meant I had 2 teacher folders of portfolios. I was able to put all the portfolios together using the wonderful shift-z command, but it was a clunky solution.
- We don’t really need the Edit and View folders for this project. My workaround was to instruct the students to just add their portfolio folder to Drive and leave the rest languishing in Shared With Me.
I like that with Doctopus we can push out more folders or templates to the students if we want to, but wonder if all this could be accomlished with Google Classroom instead.
Now that the folders are distributed we are trying to figure out how to support students to submit high quality evidence of learning. So far we have focused on how to digitise written work and get it into their portfolios. When I met with students last week we worked on getting a high quality picture of their work. We tried Webcams but were frustrated with how difficult it was to crop and filter the image afterwards. Of course there are lots of desktop apps that can do this, but I was hoping for a Chrome plugin that would streamline the process. Students with Chromebooks had more options, but in Chrome itself I couldn’t find much. Instead I brought in some iPads with Scanbot installed and showed the students how to use it to scan their work, crop it to just show the evidence and filter it so that it was easy to read. To get their work off the iPad email seemed to work best, and I then showed them how they can put the attachment directly into their portfolio from the email itself.
Some students started to install Scanbot on their own devices, but I suspect we will run into issues with the Scanbot freemium model. Moving forward I think Adobe Scan might be a better option, but we have yet to try it.
Other ideas that I want to pursue include:
- Ways to incorporate our WeVideo for Education accounts. With WeVideo students can record audio and video and export it to Google Drive very easily. I think that with some training it could become a very useful tool for documenting learning. The geek in me was thrilled to discover that WeVideo audio files actually embed in Google Sites.
- More work with Flipgrid. I have only just started using Flipgrid in my class, but am really excited by the possibilities. For the portfolios I was intriuged to learn that teachers can download student videos to Google Drive, which could make them a useful portfolio artifact.
- Finally, as we are a Google school our students will have lots of Google Doc artifacts that they can put in their portfolios. However, one glitch that I can foresee is students not wanting to move their work from its original class folder (often this is a Google Classroom folder). A possible solution is to teach all students how to use the SHIFT-Z command in Drive to add a file to more than one folder.
To me teaching students the skills to effectively collect evidence is going to be the key to this portfolio project’s success. I am thinking that one way to facilitate this is to update this old Evidence Expert BadgeDoc Project.
Adding Google Files to a Google Site is as easy as double clicking and selecting the Drive icon.
This makes it very easy for students to add evidence of learning with a text box near it that contains their reasons for picking the evidence. I suspect this is the way the curation process will go.
I wonder, however, if there could be an intermediate step that involves Google Slides. Slides can be easily embedded into Sites and has the following advantages:
- Images imported into slides can be cropped and edited directly in the slide, which negates the need for any editing to be done at the capture stage.
- Slides makes it very easy for students to combine text, images, video and shapes (the WeVideo image above was made in Slides) to reflect on their learning. It really is the swiss army knife of tools. I am of two minds as to whether more tools equals higher quality reflection on learning or if it just means more confusion, but I think it is worth trying.
I am excited to see where thie e-portfolio journey takes us. I know lots of schools out there have been doing this for a while and if somehow you made it to the end of this post and have some suggestions for how to improve this process I would love to hear them.