STEM, Technology

The “E” in Portfolio

The “E” in Portfolio

By Avy Oaknine

The traditional student portfolio—typically a diverse collection of papers—has gone digital. Now students and educators can tap into new levels of flexibility, collaboration, interaction, and portability.

Digital portfolios allow students to combine traditional educational content with rich media files. They can archive and share information in ways that enhance the learning process.

Beyond the classroom, the e-portfolio has become an indispensable tool among graduating students who want to continue their education or start careers, allowing them to easily showcase their special accomplishments, skills, and creativity. Adobe Acrobat’s e-portfolio for example, is interactive and intelligent software that allows students to collect, share, or showcase their work, projects, and presentations. Teachers can quickly provide comments and feedback and easily manage students’ grades. Also for educators, the PDF e-portfolio provides a secure place to combine test results, creative work, evaluations, honours, and attendance records. Teachers can use e-portfolios to lift traditional paper-based workflow to a new level of simplicity and efficiency.

The first step in creating and customizing an e-portfolio is to think about what information will illuminate a student’s achievements. The e-portfolio can contain an array of content that includes:

  • Documents (essays, spreadsheets, presentations, etc.)
  • Images
  • Music and sounds
  • Videos
  • Web links to their projects or blogs
  • Bookmarked Web pages

These source materials can be included in the e-portfolio in their original format or by converting them into PDF format that enables the recipient to edit, share, or print the content easily. Students can add new content quickly while easily delivering completed or ongoing work. The biggest difference in an e-portfolio compared to the traditional paper folder is the inclusion of rich media. Images, video or audio files can bring the collected work to life. These resources can be stored, logically organized in separate files, and can be accessed easily.

Beyond their flexibility in storage, interactivity, and sharing of content, e-portfolios are designed to be personalized and customized to suit anyone’s needs or style. For example, there is a welcome page that is the first thing a viewer sees when opening an e-portfolio. The page can appear as simple text, as an image, as an image and text combined, or as a Flash movie.

Many e-portfolios offer a wide array of welcome page formats, layouts, templates, and colour schemes for a unique e-portfolio introduction and design. The new Adobe Acrobat also offers new Flash-based portfolio templates from which to choose.

Once complete, the e-portfolio offers significant benefits for students and educators who want to enhance the process of learning, collaborating, and communicating through video, audio, and Flash capabilities. No longer plain, the new portfolio format offers an exciting and impressive level of creativity, interactivity, efficiency, and collaboration.

Avy Oaknine is National Education Director at Adobe Systems in Canada.

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