Showing posts with label Spaces. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Spaces. Show all posts

Monday, April 26, 2021

Spaces Digital Portfolios Emphasize Feedback and Growth

Disclosure: Spaces is an advertiser on this blog. 

A couple of months ago I published a detailed overview of a digital portfolio platform called Spaces. In that blog post I emphasized the capability of Spaces to be used for Asynchronous breakout sessions. Those asynchronous breakout sessions are great for students to give each other feedback. Today, I’d like to highlight another aspect of Spaces. That is the ability for teachers to give individualized constructive feedback to their students through Spaces.

Purposes for Portfolios
From documents to presentations to videos, you can have your students add just about anything to their digital portfolios made in Spaces. I’ve even had students add samples of code they’ve written into their digital portfolios. The type of material or artifact that students add to their portfolios isn’t nearly as important as the process of building their portfolios. Though it used a relatively small sample size, this study by Clare Kilbane and Natalie Milman found that using digital portfolios had a positive impact on students and teachers. In particular, it had an impact on relationships and how students learned academic content.

Over the years I’ve had students create digital portfolios that contained artifacts from just a few weeks of the school year. I’ve also had students build portfolios that covered a semester and some that spanned the whole year. In all cases, the point of the portfolio was to have students create something that they could look back on to see growth. Likewise, their parents could see growth.

It should be noted that there are some other purposes for digital portfolios. Those include showcasing examples of work for potential employers or to represent mastery of specific skills. While those are great uses of portfolios, this article is focused on using portfolios for documenting reflection and growth.

Implementation of Individual Digital Portfolios
Spaces provides a safe, private space for your students to create their own digital portfolios. Within their private portfolios students can upload documents, write text notes, upload videos, upload audio recordings, upload presentations, and share links to just about anything that they have created online.

Students should be given some direction as to what they should add to their portfolios and when. For example, the students in my Intro to Programming class need to add snippets of their code at the end of every week. In other classes, I’ve been a little less specific in giving directions. For example, when I taught U.S. History I simply told my students that they needed to add an artifact (other than quiz/ scores) every two weeks that they thought demonstrated their understanding of key concepts and or events.

Probably the most important part of implementing the use of digital portfolios is providing students with feedback on the items they add into their portfolios. Spaces provides teachers with three ways to deliver feedback to their students. Feedback can be provided via video comments, audio comments, and written comments.

Offering feedback to students through video, audio, and text increases the opportunities to reach students where they are. A struggling student writer might be better off getting feedback in video than in a text comment. A student who has difficulty accessing audio may be better off getting feedback in written form. Spaces provides those opportunities for all students.

The ability to add comments to work shared in Spaces isn’t limited to teachers. Students can also add comments to their own work to gather information from you. A study by Kate Wall, Steve Higgins, Jen Miller, and Nick Packard found that the process of providing feedback through digital portfolios was helpful in aiding students’ ability to understand learning objectives and who are responsible for participating in their own learning. The video, audio, and written feedback mechanisms available in Spaces can help you help your students better understand learning objectives and become responsible participants in the learning process.

Parent Involvement
Spaces digital portfolios can be kept private between the student and teacher. Parents can also be invited to view their child’s portfolio. In fact, I’d encourage you to invite parents to view their child’s portfolio as it provides a great opportunity for them to see their child’s progress throughout the year rather than just at parent-teacher conference night. Inviting parents to view their child’s portfolio also provides them with the opportunity to talk to their child about what they’re learning in school.

Getting Started With Spaces Digital Portfolios
I published a detailed overview of the features in Spaces here. A couple of tutorial videos can also be found here and here. In short, the quickest way to get started is to sign-up at then create an account using either your Google account or email address. After doing those simple steps you can create a class roster and invite your students to join. Once they’ve joined, from your teacher dashboard you can quickly generate individual spaces for them to use. Again, this video walks you through the process of creating spaces for your students and this video shows the students’ perspective.

A digital portfolio can be what you and your students want it to be. Spaces gives you and your students all the tools they need to make a portfolio and gives you the tools you need to give your students meaningful feedback.

This post originally appeared on If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Sites that steal my (Richard Byrne's) work include CloudComputin, TodayHeadline, and 711Web.

Monday, February 1, 2021

Spaces - Digital Portfolios With Asynchronous Breakout Rooms

Disclosure: Spaces is a new advertiser on

Spaces is a new digital portfolio tool that offers some unique features that teachers and students will like. Not the least of these features is a group portfolio function that is best described as providing asynchronous breakout rooms. This post will highlight the features of Spaces and what makes it different in a crowded market of digital portfolio tools.

Types of Spaces Including “Asynchronous Breakout Rooms”
Spaces offers three ways for you and your students to share materials and interact with each other. These three ways are referred to as “Class Spaces,” “Individual Spaces,” and “Group Spaces.”
Class Spaces are spaces where you can post materials and announcements for your entire class to see. You could use this space to publish documents by attaching PDFs, Word documents, pictures, or PowerPoint slides. You could also use Spaces’ Google Drive integration to publish something from your Google account. In Class Spaces you can also write messages for your class to see as well as record messages by using the audio and video recorders that are built into Spaces. Announcements in Class Spaces available to all students.

Individual Spaces are students’ individual portfolio spaces. These are the Spaces where your students can share examples of their work, ask help questions that they only want you to see, and receive feedback from you about their submitted work. Parents can be invited to join their child’s individual space.

I foresee using Individual Spaces not only as a place for students to post completed projects but also to post their work in progress so that I can give them feedback on it. This semester some of my students are working on an Android app design project. Obviously, I’ll want them to share their completed projects but I also want them to share their projects in progress throughout the semester. When they post their projects in progress I can give them verbal and written feedback to guide them toward their larger project goals.
Group Spaces are spaces that can be described as “asynchronous breakout rooms.” You can assign students to specific group Spaces to share with each other and with you. Group Spaces could be used for simply sharing finished group projects. The better use of group Spaces is as a place where students can share their work in progress and get feedback from each other as well as from their teacher. For example, some of my computer science students are working on semester-long projects. I can put them into small groups in group Spaces where they will share bits of their design work and bits of their programming work. They’ll then get feedback from their classmates as well as from me.

Getting Started with Spaces
I’ve always felt that the best way to discover the potential of a service for your classroom is to jump in and give it a try. You can quickly start using Spaces for free by signing up at with your email address or with a Google account. If you use your Google account, you can import your Google Classroom rosters.

Once you’ve created your teacher account you can then start creating your classes and spaces. To get students into your class click on the “people'' tab in your Spaces classroom then click “invite students.” You have three options for inviting students to your class. You can give them a direct link to your class, you can give them a class code to enter on, or you can use the Google Classroom option to add students.

After creating your class it’s time to create Spaces within your class. As mentioned above, there are three Space types. The default space is a “Class Space” in which you can publish materials for all of your students to see. Likewise, your students can post materials here for all of the class to see. In the Class Space you and your students can respond to each other with written comments, video comments, and audio comments.

To create Individual Spaces you’ll simply click the “+” in the Spaces tab in your teacher dashboard. Then you can select “individual” and choose the students for whom you’d like to create Spaces.

Creating Group Spaces is done in a similar manner to creating an Individual Space. The difference is that when you create a Group Space you can manually assign students to groups or you can have it done randomly.

Finally, it should be noted that you can have multiple Group Spaces within your Spaces classroom. In other words, your students don’t have to work with just one group.

How to Create a Spaces Portfolio - Part I

How to Create a Spaces Portfolio - Part II

An increased awareness of the need to make resources accessible to all students in a classroom is one of the few positive things to come out of the last year of online and hybrid instruction brought on by COVID-19 school closures. To that end, Spaces provides a way to make sure that the announcements and feedback that you post for students can be accessed by them in a variety of ways.

When you post an announcement in your class Space you can write it, but you can also record audio and video messages to accompany that written message. For example, let’s say that I need to post a clarification about an assignment. I can do that by writing a message and I can use Space’s built-in audio and video recording tools to post the same message.

Just like when posting an announcement in your class Space, when you post feedback for students you can do so in the forms of written comments, audio comments, and video comments.

And it’s not just teachers that can make audio and video recordings in Spaces. Your students can also record audio and video comments by using the recording tools built into Spaces.

Accessibility can also refer to accessing course materials from multiple devices. Spaces, as is to be expected of a quality portfolio service, offers a free iOS app and free Android app for teachers and students. Using the mobile apps provides a quick and easy way for students to add images of their physical work to their portfolios and to record video messages to add to their portfolios.

Bottom Line
Spaces’ best feature is its Group Spaces. If you’re looking for a way that you can have students do asynchronous online group work that you can also monitor, give Spaces a try.