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Connecting Home and School with Digital Portfolio Applications

Krista Ford
September 2, 2020

I’ve always been a teacher eager to incorporate technology as learning tools. Digital portfolio applications have been crucial in connecting my classroom to home and have put my students in control of discussing their learning with their families.

When students take control of their learning amazing things happen!

The Daily Question

The dreaded question that every family member asks:

“What did you learn in school today?”


Digital portfolio applications can answer this question without having to ask it!

These tools can effectively bridge the school-home communication gap by opening the classroom to an online learning space that involves all three parties.

Digital portfolio applications can connect school and home as the learning occurs.  Students, teachers, and families interact with each other through quick instant messages, pictures, and/or videos.

Today’s Problem in Schools

Technology has created a society that expects instant and quick feedback, and schools need to keep up these changes.

However, effective communication is still something that schools and teachers still struggle with today.

Evolving Communication with Digital Portfolios

Effective communication between school and home is crucial for student success. Research and studies have consistently shown that involving families in their children's learning process leads to better academic outcomes (Fan & Chen, 2001; Jeynes, 2012). When families are engaged in their children's education, students are more likely to attend school regularly, achieve higher grades, and have improved behavior and social skills (Henderson & Mapp, 2002).

While there are several ways to communicate, most teachers and schools rely on one-sided forms of communication, such as class websites, emails, or phone calls. This approach involves pushing information to families without giving them the opportunity to participate actively.

It's important to note the difference between informing families and engaging them in the learning process. By using digital portfolio tools such as SpacesEDU, teachers can foster family engagement by granting visibility and comment access in the main Class Space and any additional spaces. SpacesEDU provides families with a unique opportunity to participate in the assessment process by showing them how classroom activities are linked to learning objectives through Curriculum Tags. By doing so, they can observe and discuss the learning process with their student, online and offline, rather than simply seeing the final product.

This way, families can play an active role in their student's education, creating a supportive learning environment that can lead to better academic success.

Why use digital portfolio applications to improve communication

Digital portfolio applications can bring families into the classroom

Students can post pictures, video clips, voice recordings of their learning and families are notified through a family account that allows them to reply and engage with their student during the lessons.

Digital portfolio applications can help bridge language barriers

Digital portfolio apps can also support different languages to help those families where language barriers are an issue. They also put the students in the forefront so that families can discuss the learning with them instead of the teacher.

Read: Getting Started Guides for Families

Digital portfolio applications create a safe space for learning and discussion

By giving educators, students, and families a closed network for communicating about learning, these tools create a safe online space where families can leave positive messages and questions about the material that their students are sharing with them.

Students are excited to share the learning and discuss it with families because so much context has already been provided through the application.

Read: Parents' and family guide to digital portfolios in the classroom

Connect with Krista Ford

Krista Ford is a Grade 5 Teacher at Waverley Memorial in Waverley, Nova Scotia, Canada. She recently completed a thesis paper on using digital portfolio applications as communication tools to connect school and home. 

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