A Better Way to Document Evidence of Learning

  • 4 Min Read

Brightspace Portfolio makes it easy & fun for K-12 students and teachers to showcase learning in the classroom

For many years, students have used portfolios to showcase their learning to parents, peers, college admissions and future employers. There is clear pedagogical value in having students capture what they are doing in class. It inspires new learning, drives deeper understanding, and encourages reflection.

In the past, a portfolio existed in the physical world as a folder, or leather-bound binder. However, now, with so much of students’ work existing in digital format, schools are increasingly looking to electronic portfolios as a way for K-12 students to archive and present the work they are most proud of.

The trouble with most electronic portfolio solutions is that they are often standalone solutions, disconnected from the learning management system (LMS) that drives the majority of activities in the classroom. This means students and teachers may have to jump in and out of different technology environments to upload work to the portfolio. Nor are the solutions as user friendly as they should be for students or teachers. Teachers end up spending a lot of their time collecting information from the students, taking pictures and so forth to populate the portfolio on their student’s behalf. This lack of integration and poor ease of use may have prevented many classrooms from adopting portfolio technology.

With the new Brightspace Portfolio tool we wanted to tackle each of these challenges head on. Early feedback from teachers is that they love the design and intuitive nature of Brightspace Portfolio. Based on the tweets we’re seeing from educators, the creative juices are definitely flowing on how this new tool can be used to create a more engaged and interactive learning experience.

Seamless connection to the LMS

Fully integrated into the Brightspace platform, Portfolio offers students the ability to naturally segway from creating work to showcasing their efforts, without having to step out of the Brightspace platform. From pictures and videos, to linking documents, slide presentations, or other written work created using online platforms such as Google Drive and Microsoft Office, Brightspace Portfolio streamlines a student’s ability to demonstrate their learning.

Easy for students

From Google Chromebooks, to iPads, to teens’ beloved smartphones, technology is in the classroom and it is here to stay. Brightspace Portfolio takes full advantage of these technologies by making it simple and easy for students to quickly upload completed content in any format. Essays, paintings, sculptures, even presentations can be uploaded to showcase assignments and projects. But beyond that, students can also use their smart devices to provide audio/video narrative and reflection around that content.

For instance, children in a grade two class can use the shared iPads in their classrooms, to upload photos of their projects, drawings and activities on the playground or in the gym. They can also record an audio reflection telling the story that inspired the work, discussing the materials they used, or how they felt at the time. When finished, all they have to do is click “Done” and the process is complete, with the work sent to a queue for teacher approval. Because of the simplicity, students require very little help from teachers.

At the high school level, teachers are able to leverage their students’ addictive smartphone use in new and positive ways, by making it very simple for learners to directly upload work from their device to Portfolio. Older high school students also access a more advanced app mode of Portfolios allowing them to record videos.

Easy for teachers

Recognizing that teachers have better things to do with their time than take pictures of student work and upload content to a portfolio, Brightspace Portfolio is purposefully developed to make life (and portfolio maintenance) fluid and frictionless for the teacher.  In the younger grades teachers can print personalized passcards with QR codes that the students use to identify themselves to the application on the classroom shared device. This allows young learners to capture photos and audio reflections without the assistance of the teacher. In the higher grades, students use their phones or laptops to upload their own work. Once the content is uploaded by the students, teachers simply review and approve the material. Teachers can also leave private comments for students during assessment exercises.

Beyond the value to a student as a vehicle for learning reflection and deeper understanding, Portfolios present a terrific vehicle for student-parent and teacher-parent communication. Parents are able to view their child’s work using Brightspace for Parents. This active engagement by parents in their child’s learning has been shown to improve learning outcomes, heighten engagement and increase graduation rates.

Are you integrating Portfolios into your classroom learning?  We’d love to hear from you and learn more about the creative ways you are using this solution to demonstrate your students’ learning.

Interested in Portfolio? Watch a demo here.

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