Student ePortfolio is an integral part of CELLT's 21st Century Skills curriculum. The ePortfolio is an "electronic locker" in which a student stores his or her academic work. Students can create folders in the ePortfolio to hold their material in an organized way so it never gets lost or misplaced. Ease of sharing, updating, the capacity to present images, sounds, and videos as well as words, and the ability to share the portfolio contents with remote audiences, offer many advantages over the traditional "black leather case portfolio" that the student has to carry around from place to place.
In the 21st Century Skills curriculum, ePortfolios are used to profile each student and then to showcase his or her chosen best work from each of the five 21st century skill themes:
Students provide examples of work representing these skills at the beginning, and at the end, of an academic term. By comparing their work at the two points in time and reflecting on how it has changed and what they have learned, they develop better analytic and presentation skills. The faculty and students work together to use ePortfolios to improve the students' learning experiences.
For students, the other major benefit of ePortfolios is that their work can be shared beyond just themselves and their teachers. By providing a link on the Internet, parents, siblings, possible employers, and future colleges can see the work of these students. Over and over again, research documents that student work improves if a broader audience can see it; it is a matter of pride.
Faculty are also building portfolios, not only to show their own mastery of 21st Century skills, but also to demonstrate their teaching practices, philosophies, and examples of their student's work.
One of the challenging features of the faculty portfolio is the crafting of a teaching philosophy based on a series of questions that ask for concrete examples of how they have dealt with various teaching and learning circumstances. From this inventory of practices, the faculty construct generalized statements of their teaching philosophies; the act of reflection is a powerful teacher itself. Future plans will allow faculty to more conveniently assess their students' progress and share it with their colleagues, advisors, and parents as a pathway to success.
Beyond the 21st Century Skills curriculum, ePortfolios offer benefits for schools as well. Consistent with the call by many educators, as well as Ohio's Governor Strickland, for more holistic representations of student learning (reports of service learning, capstone experiences, essays, other assessments that go beyond hi-stakes OGT tests and grades), the ePortfolio offers a convenient tool to share these examples of student learning. This more sophisticated presentation of what students have learned is particularly important for schools that offer alternatives to the status quo and need to demonstrate the quality and quantity of learning outcomes of novel approaches to teaching and learning.
For more information on how to get your school started with ePortfolios, Contact Us.