Friday, April 20, 2007

Online Portfolios

A colleague of mine asked me the other day whether or not I knew of anyone that had on online portfolio for other teachers, administrators or prospective employers to view. It got me thinking about the nature of what we are all doing here.

One of the principles that is most important in the transformation to school 2.0 is that of ethics and what Will Richardson describes as "being clickable." I am going to venture to say that my online portfolio exists in the content I create, and how I am able to collect that content via the feeds and links that extend from my blogs. If we are asking our students to be aware of the content they create and to adhere to an ethical standard, I am hard pressed to find a better example to give them the the blogs that we keep.

As professionals, a portfolio is essential. In one of the schools I work in, we are given a yearly "brag sheet" to list all of the accomplishments that we would like included in our yearly reviews. While the content I create here is not done for the purposes of recognition on a yearly review, it is nonetheless something I am proud of, and would want to share with colleagues, supervisors, and yes, future employers if that should ever come up. Portfolios, like these spaces here, also give us the opportunity to reflect on our practice. What goes in? What stays out? That decision making process in itself forces us to contemplate our daily and yearly progress as a teacher or administrator.

As is the case with me lately, I still have to wonder if there is some better method out there. A quick search in Google under portfolio's in education reveals some interesting things. One that immediately catches my eye is that from Ohio State University's Faculty and TA Development center. Outlined at the site are some very effective reasons for keeping a teaching portfolio to show the depth and scope of what you have taught. But nowhere does it say that it should be digital or not. Another search under portfolios online, yielded a company called blueskyportfolios, who specialize in creating online portfolios for executives and artists. This resonates, and while I might not want to shell out the money for their services, their layouts appeal to me.

I think I have hatched a new professional development class for my district....


Scott said...


I couldn't agree more that a professional blog is (and should be considered) a crucial part of a professional portfolio. And that we'd be remiss not to create our portfolios in a digital, online format.

Re: extant online portfolio services: Minnesota has had an electronic portfolio service called eFolio Minnesota in place for a few years now. It's intended as a "living showcase of your education, career and personal achievements." I guess this is more a point of interest than a suggestion, since it's only available as a free service to Minnesota residents. But it's interesting as an example of a large-scale initiative in online portfolios, especially if you start digging into the policy & demographic assumptions underlying it.

Patrick Higgins said...

Thanks, Scott. I will defintely check out the link. There has to be some sort of option for the rest of us that are not so fortunate to live in Minnesota.

Jack said...


I like the idea of thinking of your blog as an important aspect of your personal portfolio. Portfolios have traditionally centered around certain types of documentation (letters of recommendation, peer/student evaluations, etc...) of experience. A thoughtful, well-written blog could also be an essential element of one's portfolio. Like you write, the reflections recorded in the blog are just as indicitive of one's teaching experience as a statement of teaching philosophy or other similar documents.