Thing 34: Digital Portfolios for Students

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eportfolio features
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What is a portfolio?

“A student portfolio is a compilation of academic work and other forms of educational evidence assembled for the purpose of

  • (1) evaluating coursework quality, learning progress, and academic achievement;
  • (2) determining whether students have met learning standards or other academic requirements for courses, grade-level promotion, and graduation;
  • (3) helping students reflect on their academic goals and progress as learners; and
  • (4) creating a lasting archive of academic work products, accomplishments, and other documentation.” (Glossary of Education Reform)

Portfolios have been used for a many years in various educational settings and in the past were primarily paper-based, which restricted the types of material that could be included and also limited access. Digital portfolios are common today and can provide access to a far wider range of student created content, including written work, scanned work, photos, videos and audio. And at the same time, provide opportunities for feedback from teachers, other students, parents and if deemed appropriate, the public.

At their simplest level, digital portfolios can be used as a convenient place to store, access and share student work. Building on this, teachers can use portfolios to assess student work and share work with parents. And with careful curation, online portfolios can also help students create showcases of their best work, credentials and and qualifications.

Many of the free web tools that you’ve been exploring in Cool Tools can be used for portfolios. You may also be able to use a learning management system or other commercial service that your school district provides. With online portfolios, parents can access student work easily and parent-teacher communication is enhanced.

This approach to student learning assessment can be used for individual courses, single projects, senior portfolios focused on college and job applications and multiyear portfolios that follow students through all their years in a school district.


Before implementing digital portfolios, you might consider the following questions from this Edutopia article, Using E-Portfolios in the Classroom.

  • Can student work be made public or is it housed inside a “walled garden,” ie: restricted to school community only?
  • Can students view and comment on each other’s work?
  • Can the teacher provide feedback for the student privately?
  • Is student work easily organized by date, course or some other category?
  • Are the portfolios transferable from year to year as students move through the school?
  • Can students access their work or export it when they leave the school?
  • Does the platform allow for multiple file types (documents, sound files, video files)?
  • What are the costs for using the tool or platform?
  • Can a teacher create a teacher account and student accounts, or do students sign up on their own? Is there a minimum age to sign up?
  • Can the tool be integrated into an existing SMS (student management system) or other school-wide database and/or gradebook?
  • From Using E-Portfolios in the Classroom




  • Explore some of the digital portfolio tools and resource articles.
  • Consider what role you might play in the development of student portfolios.
  • Share your thoughts and reactions in your blog post.


  • Write & publish your blog post.
  • Copy the URL (webpage address) for your post.
  • Return to the Google Classroom assignment page, find the assignment page for the lesson you just completed and follow the directions for turning in and sharing your work.

*Only for students participating in the workshop for PD credit hours through the Google Classroom.

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