Even though I technically work in libraries, the topic of student portfolios comes up a lot in the various places where I’ve worked. I think they’re an excellent idea … when done well.  The question of student portfolios has come up again here at the new place and I’ve been asked to talk about various tools out there for such a project.

At my last job, I helped students create primarily “showcase” portfolios in wordpress.com — our priorities there included low cost, ownership by the students, export options, and privacy options.  At the time, WordPress seemed to fit the bill the best.

In this new scenario, the portfolios would only serve as a showcase in a secondary way. They will primarily be used for documentation and evidence of accomplishment, to be shared between students and faculty, but not necessarily ever made public.  The desire for a very low-cost solution is still a high priority, as is portability.

With all this in mind, I did some extremely low-key brainstorming and web poking to see what was out there.  I focused on tools that had free levels for students so they would have the options of continuing to use these long after they graduate.  My hope is that this project would instill some sense of personal record-keeping, which I think is far more important than it gets credit for.

This is not at all, in any way, exhaustive. There are sooooo many portfolio tools and tricks out there. As the title says, this is just me brainstorming.  Do you have experience with any of these? Other suggestions? I would dearly love to hear about it.

Some Notes:

So, some notes about e-portfolios … first, this is a really good book on the subject:  http://www.documentinglearning.com/

There is also an interesting short presentation on the balancing act of creating an e-portfolio here: https://sites.google.com/site/spuaacu2011/

And if you’re really curious, I’ve been collecting portfolio-related bookmarks: http://www.diigo.com/user/esquetee/portfolios

Some tools:

1. Evernote   http://evernote.com/

summary:  A straightforward platform for collecting photos, documents, and audio. Apps available for all operating systems.  No design options – the look is going to be the same for everyone.

description:  http://blog.evernote.com/blog/2012/02/28/how-to-create-a-portfolio-with-evernote-education-series/

other ideas:  http://evernoteforstudents.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/19-practical-evernote-ideas-for-students.pdf

examples of shared notebook:  iPads;  User Experience

privacy:  With free accounts, students can either share with specific people or they can make a notebook public. Free accounts cannot edit other people’s notebooks, only their own notebooks.  All notes are private by default.

2. Google Drive   https://drive.google.com/start

summary:   Excellent tool for collaboration projects – incorporates real-time co-authoring and chat. Can be used with Google Sites for a “showcase” portfolio or simply shared as a notebook for the more straightforward approach.

description:  https://chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/all-things-google-using-google-for-writing-portfolios/38324

examples:  University of Washington;  Texas A&M UniversityUniversity of South Florida;

privacy:  Documents or notebooks can be shared to specific people, shared to anyone with the link, or made searchable in Google. All documents are private by default.

3.  WordPress  http://wordpress.com 

summary:  Of these three options, this will have the higher learning curve but also more options for designing the presentation of the final product.  Easy to embed YouTube videos or use widgets from other services like LinkedIn, Flickr, Twitter. With free accounts, there will be occasional ads showing on students’ blog posts.

description:  http://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/1753

examples:  CUNY Honors College Showcase

privacy:  Site can be shared with specific people or be public. Individual pages can be password-protected. All pages are public by default.