Digital Portfolio Tools and Assessment

The computer science courses that I’m teaching this fall are almost entirely project-based. Maintaining a digital portfolio is one of the ways that I’m having students document what they’re trying, what’s working, and what’s not working in their projects. Students also include samples of their work in progress and completed projects.

My students are using Google Sites because our school uses G Suite for Education which means my students can quickly insert spreadsheets, documents, and slides into their Google Sites as needed. Google Sites is by no means the only tool for making digital portfolios.

Depending upon the age of your students and what you teach, there could be better digital portfolio tools than Google Sites for you to consider using.

A Few More Digital Portfolio Tools

Seesaw is a free service designed for creating digital portfolios on iPads, Android tablets, and Chromebooks. Students can add artifacts to their portfolios by taking pictures of their work (in the case of a worksheet or other physical item), by writing about what they’ve learned, or by shooting a short video to record something they have learned. Students can add voice comments to their pictures to clarify what their pictures document. To get started with Seesaw create a free classroom account. Students join the classroom by scanning a QR code (you will have to print it or project it) that grants them access to your Seesaw classroom. As the teacher you can see and sort all of your students’ Seesaw submissions. Seesaw allows parents to create accounts through which they can see the work of their children. As a teacher you can send notifications to parents when their children make a new Seesaw submission.

FreshGrade is a digital portfolio service that is popular in some of schools that I have worked with. The service allows teachers and students to create portfolios containing video and audio files, pictures, and text files. Teachers using FreshGrade can create and manage accounts for their students. From their dashboards teachers can assign tasks to students and see the work that students complete. A nice end-of-the-year aspect of FreshGrade is the option to create a slideshow of highlights of a student’s portfolio.

Book Creator is an excellent tool for creating multimedia ebooks. It can be used as an iPad app or in the Chrome web browser. Students can use Book Creator to create an ebook that shows examples of their best videos, their best written work, and images of their work. A video overview of Book Creator for Chrome can be seen here.

Assessing Digital Portfolios

When it comes to my students’ digital portfolios, I’m looking at them on the whole and not grading them other than pass/fail. That’s because I’ll be giving grades on the projects that are featured within the portfolios themselves throughout the year. Other people have a different approach to assessing digital portfolios and prefer to grade using a rubric. If that’s more your style, take a look at the digital portfolio rubrics published by the University of Wisconsin, Stout.