The Benefits of Using Digital Portfolios
In a world that relies more and more on technology, the way that we preserve and view student work in the classroom is changing. Binders and folders full of original writing, math work, drawings, and more can be appealing and nostalgic to look back on later in life, but the reality is that these hard copy portfolios usually end up ruined, lost, or thrown away. In comparison, digital portfolios do not take up physical space, and they are a cleaner, longer-lasting way to save and assess students’ work over the course of a school year, and beyond. Digital portfolios provide a multitude of other benefits for both students and teachers.
Read on to learn more about the perks of implementing digital portfolios in your classroom.
1. Allowing students to track their own learning progress over time
Digital portfolios are an effective way to encourage students to take ownership of their learning by regularly checking their work and the progress they have made in different subject areas. Digital portfolios are easy to find and access, as they can be saved by bookmarking the page on a student’s computer. Students can get to them quickly with the click of the mouse or trackpad, and each assignment can be labelled to be easily findable. This allows students to view their portfolios and specific work more frequently than they might with a physical portfolio, and subsequently to track their learning more thoroughly over time. This is hugely beneficial for students because it helps them track both their progress as well as areas that they have not shown as much improvement in yet. This ability to keep tabs on their growth helps students understand themselves better as learners.
SpacesEDU offers powerful tools to allow students to visualize their progress. Educators can add Curriculum Tags to artifacts which allow students to understand specific learning objectives. Educators can then assign a Proficiency Level from a customizable Proficiency Scale for assessment, which helps students understand their progress towards meeting those objectives. Assessments are then captured within the Proficiency Report, which highlights students' strengths and areas for improvement, across all curricular areas tagged! Finally, the All Work Feed allows students to view all their completed work in one place, across classrooms and grades, making it easy to see the evolution of their skills and understanding over time. By using these tools together, students can take ownership of their learning and see firsthand how they are progressing towards their educational goals.
2. Helping teachers identify areas where students need improvement
Similar to how students have easier access to a digital portfolio compared to a physical portfolio, teachers also benefit from having quick and easy access to students’ work in a digital portfolio format. When teachers have their students’ work all in one place that is simple to find and browse through, they can more easily and effectively assess their progress over time and more quickly recognize areas that they are struggling in. This benefit is a very important one, since identifying skills and areas that students need more support in earlier helps teachers tailor their instruction to fit their students’ learning needs.
3. Providing valuable feedback to students
Digital portfolios are also a great space for teachers to give helpful feedback to students on their work. Again, when both teachers and students have a quick and convenient place to save and look back at their work, it becomes more of a habit to look over both assignments and the feedback that accompanies them thoroughly. Digital portfolios are a great place for this, as they do not have the cumbersome drawbacks of a physical portfolio, which requires both teachers and students to sift through papers rather than simply click on the title of the piece of work needed. Additionally, digital portfolios usually make teachers’ feedback more streamlined, which makes it easier to comprehend for students reading it.
4. Motivating students to do their best work
When students have a better understanding of how they are progressing with their learning, can track their progress with ease, and see frequent teacher feedback on their assignments, they are more motivated learners. Just like adults, children want to feel productive and accomplished in their day-to-day work, and having a digital portfolio that they check regularly can be an effective way for them to see the fruits of their labor in school. When students have a clear picture of what they are doing well and how much progress they have made, they are inspired to keep going to achieve even more. Similarly, when they understand what areas they need to improve in, they are driven to put in extra effort to get better at those skills.
5. Saving teachers time when it comes to organizing student work
We all know how precious teachers’ time is, and digital portfolios are a terrific time-saving tool for organizing and collecting student work. Digital portfolios give teachers a streamlined space and format to deliver feedback and monitor all coursework. Having all their students’ important work in one place helps teachers ensure that they can monitor growth over time.
6. Spotting curriculum gaps
Having a place to view students’ work and track their progress in an efficient way can help teachers to catch gaps in their students’ learning. This is extremely important, as curriculum gaps can “snowball” and lead to students feeling disconnected from their learning and having negative associations with school. Digital portfolios are a way to keep students’ work easily accessible to more quickly notice areas that they might be “missing” in their learning. When teachers understand their students’ curriculum gaps, they can address them by going back and teaching necessary skills to catch them up to where they need to be to feel successful and empowered as a learner. The visually-rich Proficiency Report can help educators quickly spot these curriculum gaps - at a class, and/or individual student level.