Thursday, March 13, 2014

5 Good Options for Creating Digital Portfolios

Over the course of the school year our students create some fantastic digital products. Building a digital portfolio is a great way for students to look back at everything they've done and organize it into a cohesive package. The following five tools are good services for creating digital portfolios.

Silk is a free service for creating webpages organized around a theme or topic. Silk is intended to be a place where you can share collections of materials as well as write text directly into your webpages. Your Silk dashboard provides a place to organize your materials into collections and subcollections. Your collections can include documents, videos, images, charts and graphs, and links to other sites. Take a look at a sample Silk site here. You can create multiple sites within your free Silkaccount. Your Silk sites can be public or  private. Creating collections on your Silk site can become a collaborative activity by inviting others to be editors or administrators on a site.

Dropr is a free service for creating portfolios of your images, videos, and audio files. Within your Dropr account you can have multiple portfolio pages. If you wanted to have a page for images that you took in the fall and a page for images that you took in the spring, you can do that in Dropr. To create a Dropr  portfolio start by signing up with a social media profile or with your email address. Then start your first project by uploading a cover image. Once you have started a project you can drag and drop media from your desktop to the Dropr website. Each project can include text in addition to the media that you upload to it. Each of your projects will have a different URL. You can work on your projects in private until you are ready to share them with the world. Your Dropr projects can be embedded into a blog as a slideshow.

Google Sites can be used by students to create digital portfolios featuring their best works and accomplishments. I would encourage high school students to develop a digital portfolio that they can share with university admissions officers. You use the page-level permissions option to allow students to only edit the pages that you grant them access to as part of a larger group digital portfolio.

Weebly can be a great digital portfolio platform for your students. Weebly makes it easy to create websites that look great and are easy to navigate. Weebly users can select from a superb collection of site templates and themes. The Weebly mobile apps allow users to edit and add content on the go. Weebly for Education Weebly for Education includes all of the intuitive website-building and blogging tools found on Weebly plus features built specifically for education. Weebly for Education offers bulk creation of student accounts which teachers can manage and moderate. Students can create their own websites and blogs using the accounts that you create for them.

The eduClipper portfolio tool allows students to create portfolios of things they have clipped (AKA bookmarked) online, things they have stored in their Google Drive accounts, content they've created on services like Prezi and Animoto, and files they have stored on their computers. eduClipper portfolios use the same visual interface that students and teachers use when bookmarking things in eduClipper. Students can re-arrange elements in their portfolios by simply dragging and dropping them into position on their portfolio canvasses. Watch the video below to see the eduClipper portfolio tools in action.

Getting Started with eduClipper Presentation Portfolios from AdamBellow on Vimeo.

Create Whiteboard Recordings on the Updated eduClipper iPad App

The popular digital portfolio and bookmarking service eduClipper has released an updated iPad app that offers four awesome new features. The most notable of these features is whiteboard recording. This new feature allows you to create explanatory videos in a Khan Academy style or to narrate and annotate an item from your eduClipper library. Complementing the whiteboard recording feature is a new option to download your eduClips to your iPad or to Airdrop them to a computer.

The other new eduClipper iPad app features are updated annotation tools and a new notification center. The annotation tools now include options for changing the thickness of your lines, new line and font colors, and new font style choices. The new notification center resembles that of Google+ in that you're able to go back and view all notifications on each of your eduClips.

Applications for Education
The new option to create whiteboard videos in the eduClipper iPad app could be fantastic for having students explain their understanding of how to solve a mathematics problem. Those videos can then be added to their portfolios in eduClipper where you can then review them.

Disclosure: I am an advisor to eduClipper with a very small equity stake in the company. 

Does Your Classroom Have an Online Hub?

Whenever I'm asked for a "first step" for teachers who want to start integrating web-based tools into their classrooms is to create a blog or website to serve as an online hub of activity. That online hub can be the jumping-off point for all of the web-based activities that you want your students to do.

Rather than shortening every link with or Bitly then asking your students to enter into their web browsers, just tell them to go to the classroom blog where you've posted the links for that day's activities. Relatively quickly your students will learn that if they're doing a web-based activity in your classroom, they just need to go to the class blog to get the links and directions. Over the course of a semester this will save you a ton of time as your students won't be struggling to enter new URLs at the start of every class period.

Another use of your classroom blog as an online hub is to embed activities directly into it. For example, I embed Padlet walls into blogs rather than trying to get everyone to enter Padlet URLs into their browsers. And, of course, if you have a video that you want students to watch and discuss putting it into a blog instead of having everyone enter a YouTube URL is a great way to get everyone to watch and comment on the video.

Discovery, Discussion, Demonstration - A Selection of My Favorite Resources

This afternoon at the Literacy Promise conference in Salt Lake City I gave a presentation on how I think about educational technology and some of my favorite resources that can be used in a wide variety of settings. The slides from that presentation are embedded below.

The Power of Technology For...

This morning in Salt Lake City  I gave a presentation at the Literacy Promise Conference. These are the slides from that presentation.