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Five things to look when assessing equitable solution for digital portfolios

Striving for equitable solutions for your classroom helps ensure all students are equipped with the resources, tools, and opportunities they need to learn.
Bryan Carvalho
January 30, 2020


Teacher consulting with two students

When deciding which technologies to introduce to your students, it’s important to consider how every student can not just use, but succeed, using that product or tool.

While some teachers may opt to give students the choice to choose their own tool for digital portfolios, giving students that choice can lead to unexpected barriers for students. (Read: How introducing a digital portfolio tool can level the playing field for student success)

We compiled five things we believe are critical when assessing a digital portfolio tool for your students. This is just the start, if you have other suggestions, ideas, or additions, let us know!

Mobile-friendly app or website

Students who do not have a computer or laptop may still have access to a smartphone or tablet at home, meaning having a mobile-friendly option to complete homework could be vital to their success.

For many students, their smartphone is their best device for school work including essays and applying to colleges.

Accessibility standards

Ensure the solution you’re exploring meets digital accessibility standards (such as those created by the ADA), including, but not limited to: Captions on videos, text-to-speech integrations, and more.

Here’s a great resource from the Center on Technology and Disability for education leaders.

Clear language

Make sure you’re choosing an app that meets students where they are. A tool designed and written for university students, for example, may have complex language and functionality not needed for your grade eight students. You can use tools like the Hemingway App to get an estimate on the readability level of the ‘welcome page’ or set up of a product you’re considering.

Ease of use

Ease of use is always important.

When considering a level playing field, any tool where students can get by on their own and capture learning in a versatile way is critical. If documenting learning and uploading files is time-consuming or tricky, students will be less likely to use the product as often as you may appreciate.

Depending on the class you teach, you may need to look for different levels of complexity. Special education classes, K-3, and high schoolers, each would have different requirements to consider.

Free for students

Last, but not least, ensure you provide an option that is free for students. Any tool that requires your students to pay out of pocket for access or even gives them an opportunity to pay for upgrades or customizations could give students with more disposable income more opportunities to make a stunning digital portfolio.

We believe this list should always be growing and changing.  Have a suggestion for a consideration we should add?

Let us know by sending us a tweet @spaces_edu!

Bryan Carvalho

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