Moving those binders online with ePortfolios

It’s the end of the semester on campus and I see loads of students lugging around three ring binders to submit as final projects in their classes.  When I see these students and their mass of accumulated documents, I’m confronted by two very competing thoughts.  On one hand, I’m impressed with the number of my colleagues who are embracing alternate forms of assessment with their students.  It’s great to see students be evaluated not just on their ability to cram for a final exam or cut and paste their way through a final paper.  With professional portfolios, students compile their best work from the semester and assemble their creations in some coherent fashion.  Students are assessed on their individual development and leave the class with something that can potentially be shared with employers.

On the other hand, however, I wonder whether the paper and binder portfolio is the best way to accomplish this task in the Web 2.0 world.  While I think the process of assembling the portfolio is extremely valuable, students are still creating a document that is primarily viewed by one person:  the educator.  In a world where social media rules the day, the paper and binder portfolio doesn’t leverage the global community at all.  In a world where a six year old can create a podcast that is heard around the world, how is the traditional binder helping to prepare our students to live and work in the 21st Century?  I thought I’d dedicate this post to several sites that could be easily used to create an ePortfolio.

Google Sites:

Sites is Google’s website hosting service.  It’s free.  It’s easy to use.  And it’s run by Google.  It also supports all sorts of multimedia so students could include their digital stories and other digital products in addition to their text-based documents.  My only hesitation to using Google Sites is that the finished ePortfolio looks like a website and not like a traditional portfolio.

Mixbook:

While it is primarily intended to be used as a memory book site, Mixbook would be a great site to use to create ePortfolios.  The site doesn’t support video or audio additions but the finished product looks like a book.  The pages flip like traditional pages and students will have a multitude of design options.  The great part is that the site is free if students are just creating electronic Mixbooks.  If students want to purchase a physical copy of their ePortfolio, however, Mixbook charges for that service.  While some may see that as a downside, it’s an option that few other ePortfolio sites offer which makes Mixbook stand out in my eyes. To learn more about Mixbook, be sure to check out the following tutorial:

Live Binders:

Live Binders bills itself as a three ring binder online.  The site is free to use and allows students to compile all sorts of multimedia from across the web.  In Live Binders, students can design their ePortfolio with different tabs just like they would in a traditional binder. To see an overview of the site, check out the video below.

Wikispaces:

While a wiki might not be the first tool that people think of when portfolios are discussed, Wikispaces would be a great site to host a portfolio (or even an entire class of portfolios).  Like Google Sites, Wikispaces is easy to use and free.  The site supports a variety of multimedia and can be used to assemble an interactive, online portfolio.  The downside, however, is that the finished product will look like a website which will only pose a problem for those hyper aesthetically minded educators out there.

Have some other ideas for sites that could be used for ePortfolios?  Be sure to use the blog space to comment your ideas.

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