Mrs. Ryan's Class

A Digital Learning Hub for students and parents

Beginning Stages of My Digital Portfolio

This has been a week of learning. First, I decided to edit all of my content to fit the purposes of this digital portfolio. I wanted to be sure that my work is specific to me as a professional, not necessarily to my role as a student at the University of New Haven. Therefore, I reformatted my tutorials, technology reviews, and lesson and unit plans, and edited content to make it more applicable to a wide audience. I organized everything into folders in my Google Drive and referred to my revised site-map for help. Finally, I thought, I’m ready to begin uploading and designing!  

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However, after over 7 hours and slow progress learning three different platforms I am feeling overwhelmed!

I decided to create a Google Site to house my digital portfolio, but I faced a huge uphill battle and learning curve. I watched tutorials, read articles, and found a portfolio template that I thought I liked, but the overall process was frustrating. When I finally was able to add content, I absolutely hated the way it looked. When I tried to reformat the layout, I was met with more roadblocks.

Then I turned back to WordPress.com to see if I could either create a new site altogether, or simply add a page to my existing Digital Learning Hub. After some reflection, I decided to keep the Digital Portfolio separate from my Digital Learning Hub and start fresh. I used this informational link from WordPress  to help, but I found that many of the portfolio templates are designed for images/photography and did not really fit my purposes.

I didn’t give up completely on either Google Sites or WordPress, but I still wanted to search for something that was more straightforward to create, visually appealing, and fit my purposes for my digital portfolio. After reading some of my classmates’ blog posts on their journey into e-portfolio creation, I decided to try out WIX.

wix

I found a visually appealing, free, portfolio template and I am currently trying to work through personalizing my site and uploading content. I found an app to add to my WIX account that allows users to upload content from Google Drive. I hope this will make adding content easier!

I am realizing now why creating websites/digital portfolios takes so much time and dedication. It is not easy to build or manage, and it takes a lot of persistence. I keep trying to think back to Carol Dweck and the growth mindset. I am learning…and that is what matters.

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Digital Portfolio: Site Map

 

Step Two in planning my Digital Portfolio is to create a sitemap to organize my ideas. I started planning using a digital graphic organizer, Popplet.

popplet logo

I learned about Popplet through research for an assignment in another IT/DML Class about Assistive Technology.  In this assignment, I recommended using Popplet as an AT for students who have difficulty using traditional print graphic organizers. Although I had researched the tool and experimented with its functionality, I had never used it for my own authentic planning purposes. I found that the flexibility in placement and organization was extremely helpful and I will definitely recommend using this resource with kids!

The actual planning of my sitemap was challenging and took several days. In retrospect, I wish I had done a mini-curation process at the end of each course to select my most meaningful work that I would eventually like to share.

regret

Since I did not curate my content as I worked through this program, I had to go back to every course and sift through each assignment to determine which work should be included in my portfolio. This helped me to reflect on all of the work that I completed in this program and I was able to pull out the most meaningful assignments. Looking back, I’m quite proud of some of the work I created and I also realize that there is some content that was intended to serve the purpose of reflection, learning, and growth. I am happy to have the opportunity to create a digital portfolio that highlights the work I am proud to share and that is most relevant to me as a professional.

Here is the Popplet that I created to organize my ideas for my digital portfolio.

Popplet Image

See this link for a larger view: http://popplet.com/app/#/3341587

 

eggtimerSome of the content that I plan to include will need to be edited to apply to a wider audience. Many of the courses that I created these materials for has specific requirements for audience, so I intend to go through each lesson, tutorial, and resource and edit when necessary. I anticipate that this will be a long process that requires significant effort and reflection, so I plan to get started right away!

 

 

Image Sources:

Popplet Logo

Regretful Baby

Timer

 

 

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Digital Portfolio…Platform Considerations

It is time to begin the initial planning for my digital portfolio. I have decided to use this portfolio to showcase my work in the IT/DML program and I intend to add to the portfolio as I develop additional content related to teaching with technology. I anticipate that my audience will be colleagues who are looking for ideas and/or resources, and any potential future employers if I decide to leave classroom teaching and pursue a different career, perhaps as a tech integrator? I am not going to design this portfolio specifically for job searching at this time, but I am open to the possibility that I may edit the portfolio later to serve this purpose.

Right now, my biggest hangup is with my domain name. All of my multi-modal tutorials and presentations end with a reminder to check out my blog for other resources. This WordPress blog (nicolelryan.wordpress.com) has been the location of my Digital Learning Hub since the start of this program, and I’m not sure I want to entirely shift my focus to a different platform entirely. I did a bit of research on changing the format/layout of this digital learning hub to one that would function better as a portfolio. This page, “Your Portfolio. Your Website” gave me some interesting ideas about layout and content.  I love the different portfolio layouts and find the templates provided here to be visually appealing and user friendly. I imagine that visitors to my portfolio would have an easy time accessing my content. It also seems to be customizable so I could have a lot of flexibility in the design. I do worry, however, about completely deleting/revamping my Digital Learning Hub that I already created. If I changed themes to a portfolio, I would lose a lot of content and organization that I worked hard to create. I want the students and parents in my class to have access to this site to provide important information and resources. I could, perhaps, create a brand new WordPress account using the portfolio layout, but then I would have a new URL anyway, thus defeating the purpose of sticking with WordPress.

My next thought would be to create my digital portfolio on Google Sites. I have some experience with creating sites (mostly from preparation for my Level 1 GAFE Certification Test), but I do not have a Google Site of my own. I have been interested in using Sites in the classroom, and eventually having my students create their own, but I have yet to ventured down this road. I’m thinking that using Google Sites for my own digital portfolio would give me an authentic and personal experience with the tool that will help me later when using it with students. I did some preliminary research to see what other teachers have to say about using Google Sites as digital portfolios and came across this helpful webpage, ePortfolios with Google Appscreated by  Dr. Helen Barrett. It is clear that Google Sites is a versatile and user-friendly resource for digital portfolio creation. Additionally, this site containing template descriptions was also helpful as I navigated the seemingly endless template options within Google Sites. One drawback of the Google Sites templates is they can be quite bland, and I wonder how much flexibility I will have when it comes to design. I could also choose not to use a template and try designing my own pages in Sites.

I am going to begin work designing my digital portfolio in Google Sites to try something new that I could potentially use with students in the future. I hope that I find some flexibility and room for creativity and personalization once I begin. I know, though, that this resource will change with me over time.

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Reflection on Teaching with Technology & Digital Portfolio

21st century kid

Image Source

As my journey through the IT/DML program nears an end, I will begin the reflection and curation process required to create a digital portfolio of my work in this program. Two articles informed my reflection this week. The first article I read called 11 Essentials for Excellent ePortfolios, details 11 suggestions to consider when creating a digital portfolio. They are:

  1. Know Your Purpose
  2. Select Tools to Empower Students
  3. Select a Variety of Content
  4. Empower Portfolio Review and Publish to an Audience
  5. Know Your Timeline
  6. Empower Metacognition
  7. Relate Portfolios to Coursework
  8. Don’t Overwhelm Students
  9. Link Paper and Electronic Portfolios
  10. Consider the Portfolio’s Longevity
  11. Engage Teachers in Effective Portfolio Use.

Many of these areas for consideration are outlined in the scope of my final course, especially in regard to the timeline, audience, feedback, related and variety of content, and engagement. One area that sticks out, especially as I begin to edit and revise my teaching philosophy is suggestion one, “Know your Purpose”. The author of this article, Vicki Davis, suggests that the curation of a digital portfolio is constructivist in nature. This fits nicely into my philosophy of education that is heavily influenced by constructivism and personal meaning making.

Another influential article I read this week is, NAESP’s Technology Integration for the New 21st Century LearnerThis article explains reasons why students should construct their own knowledge through creation, exploration, discovery, and design, and how technology can help. As I read this article, I was reminded of the reasons why I so wholeheartedly believe that students should be the creators of their own learning. Blair, writes, “By allowing students to be explorers and designers, educators show that they believe in their students’ abilities and validate each student’s contribution to the class” (2012). I believe in the importance of developing a strong classroom community to allow students to feel safe to explore and design their own learning, while contributing to the learning of the whole class. I have held these ideas about education since I began my teacher prep. work years ago, and these beliefs have only become more engrained in my teaching practice over the course of my career. This article reminded me how technology fits into those ideals.

The process of rewriting my philosophy of teaching while undergoing the beginning stages of content curation for my own digital portfolio will offer me a unique opportunity to experience this constructivist learning environment as a student, rather than a teacher. Overall, my work as a student in this program has influenced my ideas about teaching and learning, and this final course will help me to showcase how I have grown as a learner and a teacher.

 

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