As an Ontario educator, you have access to the Ministry-licensed Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). Ontario’s VLE is a dynamic learning environment, powered by D2L’s Brightspace platform. The VLE is provided by the Ministry of Education at no cost to Ontario’s publicly funded school boards. Ontario’s VLE includes a portfolio tool, assignments, rubrics, lessons linked to curriculum expectations, quizzes, and much more!
Hear from Megan Shuker, the D2L product manager for the Portfolio tool
As a parent, I have sometimes struggled to see what my children were learning, starting in kindergarten. Who among us hasn’t had the conversation that starts with “What did you do today at school?”—only to get a response like “Nothing” or “Recess.” I knew that they were learning, but I didn’t know what exactly it was or how I could help. I found myself being that parent, emailing the teacher often to find out more. I didn’t especially want to be that parent, but I did want to support the teacher at home. Some children are very reliable reporters; mine are not. I found myself wishing for a product just like the one that I now manage.
Launched in August 2017, Brightspace Portfolio is a unique tool that provides students in Ontario with the power to create a record of their own learning and achievement. D2L developed the Portfolio tool with educators in mind: we received feedback from 50+ Ontario teachers during the development process. During the 2018–2019 school year, Ontario students and educators collected over 360,000 pieces of evidence using the Portfolio tool. While teachers do have the ability to collaborate with students, Portfolio was built with the express intention of empowering students to collect their own evidence of their learning, beginning in kindergarten with Funster and going all the way through high school and beyond.
Starting in junior kindergarten, nonreading students can use our Funster monster to scan their QR codes (no logins to remember!) and capture what they have learned. Funster also asks the students to tell it about their learning. Students can then reflect on what they have learned. The reflection is key for learning! It takes the students to a place of metacognition (thinking about thinking) that helps them further analyze and evaluate, and takes that learning deeper. Teachers can then provide feedback and apply it to Ontario curriculum expectations. This trifecta of student reflection, teacher feedback, and alignment to curriculum expectations provides an entirely different view of classroom activities. What originally looked like a student building a block tower becomes collaboration, planning, problem-solving, innovating, and math.
The same structure applies to older grades as well. High school students studying trades or participating in a work placement can use the Portfolio app in “My Device” mode to capture evidence of their learning on-site, where the learning is happening. Students are able to record their reflections via audio/video or text, and then send the evidence back to their teacher for review and feedback. For example, students can capture photos or video of lab sciences for teacher evaluation and feedback on techniques and safety measures.
When paired with Brightspace Parent & Guardian, Brightspace Portfolio is a powerful tool for students to collect evidence of their learning, reflect on their evidence, receive feedback, and share with parents. Parents now have a line of sight into the classroom and are better able to support their children’s learning throughout their school journey. To learn more about the Portfolio tool, please check out our Portfolio resource.
As a product manager for Portfolio and Brightspace Parent & Guardian, it is my responsibility to manage and prioritize new features for both products. Part of this is listening to teachers, students, parents, and administrators about how we can make the products better. Do you have ideas for how to make Portfolio or Brightspace Parent & Guardian better? Send your feedback to K12Ont@d2l.com.
The Portfolio tool is a great starting point for educators who want to use technology to support learning in their classrooms. To get the VLE for your classroom or school, visit our website to find your login page and the technology-enabled learning and teaching (TELT) contact at your board.