The (Nearly) Invisible Portfolio

Portfolios are something I think that we need to really take advantage of in the realm of possibilities for school today.  I have written about this extensively for the past six years, and this very post is being added to my portfolio in which you are reading right now.  The interesting thing about this idea is that my portfolio may have found you, or you may have found it, but in both cases, anyone can see it.  There are different ways I can share my learning through different mediums.  I love to write, but I also am able to share through visuals, podcasts, video, or things that I couldn’t even imagine.  This opens up doors for students to communicate their learning and understanding in ways that we didn’t necessarily have when I was a child.  It is not just assessment of learning, but assessment as learning.  The creation of learning and the thought process of whether I should share this to the world are critical skills we need to teach our kids, let alone, understand ourselves.

I also have the option of allowing you to see it or not. I do have spaces where my learning is for my eyes only, or in what I choose to share. Talking with educators, this component is crucial. The learner should have the option of what they want the world to see, not the teacher.  The conversations that can come from this are so crucial.  Asking the learner why they chose the piece of work that they did to share with the world, is a critical conversation that we are not having enough with our students, because frankly, we aren’t giving them this opportunity enough.

Yet many of the “portfolios” that I have seen being shared now are for the school and for the parents only, with no intention of it going any further.  There is power in putting your learning in one place, but are we taking advantage of the opportunities that digital allows us to connect and share our learning with the entire world, if we so choose? Not only can I share my learning, but I am developing a digital footprint every time I press publish.  There is a lot of learning we can have through these places that many schools are using, but have you ever heard of a potential employer asking a student to see their Edmodo account?  Me neither.

I wrote about this earlier in the year:

Your dream job is available and the deadline for your application is tomorrow so please bring a resume and portfolio,” you could probably put that together the night before. It might not be great, but it is definitely doable.

Now, what about this scenario?

“Your dream job is available and I am going to need a resume but I will also be Googling all candidates to see what they share online.”

How would you fare?

How would our kids fare?  Creating a digital footprint is not an overnight thing, but are we even helping them share the positives of what they are doing in school with the entire world?

There are opportunities in these spaces and I see them as well. If we are replacing report cards with these “hidden digital portfolios”, that’s a great step, but is it really the end of our vision of what is possible right now?  Do we as educators teach kids to separate what they do in school from what they do outside of it?  I love this quote attributed to Rushton Hurley:

good enough

Do our kids have this opportunity to share their abilities to the world? Is our own lack of vision holding them back?

“A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.” Wayne Gretzky


  1. Sandra said:

    George. That’s quite a vision. I like the idea of giving students control over their portfolio, public or private. But I’m mostly involved in elementary. Do you envisage schools an d teachers giving these choices to students in Elementary? MS? HS?

    April 15, 2016

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