How to Use Google Apps for Classroom iPad E-Portfolios

By Sam Gliksman

Google Apps can play a valuable role in managing digital workflows on your classroom iPads. With a variety of web-based applications for creating, storing, and sharing content, Google Apps can also be the perfect system for managing student e-portfolios.

Here’s a laundry list of ways you can use Google Apps for portfolio organization, management, and presentation:

  • Create a shared folder. Create a shared e-portfolio folder for each student. Make sure both student and teacher have editing permissions so that you both have rights to add and edit content in the folder. Depending on the age of the student and the way in which you decide to manage the workflow, you may decide to give viewing or editing permissions to other teachers as well.

    You may need to review folder permissions annually as students move grade levels and teachers.

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  • Add and organize content. As students create content, they can add it to their e-portfolio folder. Most iPad apps have a Share function that enables users to copy content to other apps such as Google Drive. Media created on the iPad can be saved to the Camera Roll, and Google Drive has an Upload function that moves any files from the Camera Roll to a folder on Google Drive.

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    Although you can upload videos to a folder in Google Drive, it may be easier to manage videos if you store them at a media-sharing site such as YouTube or Vimeo. That doesn’t mean the videos have to be public. You can easily set up school or class accounts so that videos can only be accessed via a unique link.

  • Present the portfolio. The content should be organized and easily accessible in a Drive folder. Now, all that hard work deserves to be shared and seen.

    You have several options:

    • Google Sites: Google Apps users can create their own websites using Google Sites. Give students guidance on design and organization while also allowing them the freedom to add their own personal touches. Students can create pages for different parts of the portfolios and add files from their portfolio folders.

    • Blog: Give each student a personal blog and have them write blog posts that showcase the various components of their portfolio. You can use Google Blogger or any other blog service such as WordPress or Edublogs.

  • Reflect and personalize. Have students review the work in their portfolios and add their reflections. How did it meet the goals and standards? What stands out as something they take pride in and where might the work be improved? What did they learn and take away from the project? The reflections can be included as comments on the student website or blog post.

    Encourage students to personalize their portfolios by adding a biography and customizing the site design where possible.

  • Comment. Decide whether you want to allow teachers and peers to add comments to student portfolios. With proper guidance and instruction, providing constructive feedback can be a valuable educational exercise for both parties.