As I stare at the ever-growing stack of drawings, holiday-themed costruction paper projects, and various other “creations” brought home by my 5-year-old, I can’t help but wonder: what am I going to do with those? Will I still have them in 5 years? 10 years? Will I even be able to find them next year? I would love to tell you that I will keep these safe to give to my kids down the road (like my mom did with my Dukes of Hazzard matchbox cars – THANKS MOM!), but honestly, I’m not sure that I will. Organization isn’t exactly my strong suit. We might move. Maybe a squirrel will get into our attic and rummage through the box I put them in. I’m not really sure at this point what will happen, but it’s not looking good for my son.
But, honestly, I don’t really worry that much about this particular work, this singular year of pre-Kindergarten. I worry more about the bulk of the work he will complete from Kindergarten through 12th grade, the core work of learning that will shape and mold him into the adult he will one day become. And the good news is this: I won’t have to worry about where I put the paper, because the majority of his work will be DIGITAL. That’s right. I’m not sure he will ever know the feeling of carrying a backpack laden with 47 pounds of Middle School textbooks, or figuring out which folder to put Spelling Test #39 in. He will, however, have to deal with managing files, cloud storage, linking, and manipulating an embed code. This is where my passion lies. How do we ensure that student digital work is saved, stored, and easily accessible to students & parents for years to come?
Digital portfolios or e-portfolios are rapidly gaining momentum in K-12 as a way to organize, share, and save student work. This year, as we began to discuss how to implement these at my elementary school, we were determined to forge ahead with a solution that could store any kind of student work – whether it be documents, a web link, or an embeddable object. Student documents are erased from their network drives at the end of each school year, and we have yet to embrace a cloud storage solution in my district, so we needed a way to ensure that their work isn’t gone forever. In the past, we copied their Home drives to a CD, then re-loaded that CD at the beginning of the next year. It was a good stopgap measure, but it didn’t do anything to address either web-based student work or our district’s server space issues.
We have chosen Weebly Campus as our platform for our e-Portfolios this year, and I believe that this solution will serve us well in the future. Students put in digital work (document, link, picture, embed code) in a blog format along with a text reflection on the work. This gives students a chance to reflect on the ISTE-S standards and it gives them their own digital workspace to show to parents and friends as well. I’m excited to see what our students will be able to accomplish with their own “websites”, and I believe that it will be another important way for us to tell our story and to better inform parents about the type of digital work that we are doing.
A digital legacy begins this year for 900+ students, and a very special 5-year-old’s will begin next year. Paper-loathing parents everywhere will surely breath a sigh of relief.
How are you preserving student work? Are their blogs/websites password protected? Please share your ideas and experiences with storing and showcasing digital student work in the comments below.