How to Construct an Effective E-Portfolio on Your Classroom iPads

By Sam Gliksman

When you have a system in place, consider how to build individual e-portfolios on your classroom iPads. Filing digital files in a portfolio folder is a simple first step, but effective e-portfolios need to be organized, well presented, and reflective of the personality and passion of individual students. Here’s a list of factors you may want to consider.

  • Documentation: When a file is saved as a digital file, it’s relatively easy to move and archive, but don’t limit portfolios to those files. Students may be doing great work on paper, or they may have creative artifacts they have built or designed in science or art.

    Move it to a spot with good lighting, tap into your inner photo-journalist, and snap some images. Take screen shots of work on the iPad. Make documentation of student work a part of your everyday classroom procedure, whether or not it ends up in a portfolio.

  • Organization: Store files in a shared folder and develop clear guidelines for classification and organization of the work. Use a spreadsheet and keep a matrix of categories for organizing and presenting work. Classifying by grade and subject is obvious, but consider also categorizing work by goals and standards as a way to demonstrate student achievements.

  • Ownership: Remember that the ultimate goal of a portfolio is not for schools or teachers to share what they do in their classes; it’s for students to showcase their individual work. You can always make suggestions, but give students the last word when deciding what to include in their portfolios.

  • Reflection: Developing self-assessment skills is an important part of individual growth, and having students comment and reflect upon their work is an effective way to develop them. It’s also a wonderful way to add personal voice to the presentation of a portfolio.

  • Signature: Portfolios aren’t just about work. They’re about people. Add a biography section that allows students to tell viewers about their interests and activities.

  • Presentation and personality: Whether it’s an essay for English, a painting in art class, or a group project in science, the work done by students is an expression of everything that makes them unique individuals. Don’t use a standard template to present their work. It may make your life easier, but if you wanted a job that was easy, you wouldn’t be a teacher, would you?

    By all means, set some guidelines, but give students the freedom and flexibility to design portfolio presentations in their own styles and to add their personal touch wherever and however appropriate.

You want to make it easy for people to browse the work in an e-portfolio. If you’re including files that need to be opened, make sure to convert them into formats that are easily read on the web. Export documents as PDF files and convert images to JPG format.