How to Set Up an E-Portfolio System for Your Classroom iPads

By Sam Gliksman

If it’s not already, creating a system that enables students to edit and share digital portfolios on your classroom iPads should be high on your priority list. Many software systems have a “portfolio feature,” but you need to carefully consider your goals before jumping into the water. Here are a few factors to ponder when selecting and setting up your portfolio system:

  • Storage: What are you storing and where will you keep it? Far too many schools still use large internal network servers for file storage. Storing student portfolios on an internal server requires substantial amounts of network disk space — especially as portfolios should include a variety of different media and not just text.

    Your IT person may warn that it’s safer to keep content in-house, but when push comes to shove, would you rather rely on a company such as Google to secure your content (free of charge!) or that (very expensive) internal system of backup servers, drives, software, and backup power sources in the IT room that you never step into?

  • Access: Who will be able to see it? Internal storage also denies access to anyone that’s not logged into your network. The whole point of a portfolio is to create a vehicle for sharing and presenting work. As a result, you can lean heavily toward using a web-based service for storing portfolios.

  • Portability: Can students easily take the portfolio with them when they leave the school? Will they be able to continue developing and sharing it? You may already use a “walled garden,” a service that limits sharing and access within the school itself. One example would be a learning management system that requires verification before gaining access.

    That’s fine as long as it provides a function for the student to allow external access to their portfolio when required and/or a mechanism for the student to take the portfolio with them when they leave the school. Make sure to check.

  • Permissions: Who will be able to edit it? Will it be a place for teachers to select and place student work or will the students have ownership and editing rights? It’s clear that you’d want to allow selective viewing permissions for others to browse the work in a portfolio, but you should also consider how to allocate permissions for people to edit the content in the portfolio.

    Giving students editing permissions grants them a pride of ownership that empowers them with the desire to create content worthy of display. Most systems enable you to share editing rights with individual students.

  • Platform: Will it work on all computers and devices? Ideally you’d use a system that is cross-platform. It needs to be a web-based system that works equally well on Windows computers, Mac computers, and mobile devices. If you’re using iPads effectively, students will be creating media that needs to be moved into their portfolios easily on their iPads.

  • Tools: What system will you use to manage it? Select a system that has the following characteristics:

    • Simple workflow for moving content into portfolios

    • Convenient interface for organizing and moving content

    • Easy function for setting and sharing viewing rights

    • Nice, clean interface for displaying the content, both in terms of seeing what’s in the portfolio as well as the ability to open files and view them