Thursday, 25 June 2015

Who needs a Digital Portfolio?


"We'd love to have you. Think about what's best for you and your family and let me know."

Those were the words I heard as I sat across the desk from the principal. The interview had been short. It didn't start with the usual "tell me about yourself" kind of questions. It was like he knew me; and he did.  We chatted; then he offered me the job.

And with that interaction, I was sold on the digital portfolio.

I had never sat down with this individual before. A little homework, though, and my educational blog surfaces. On it, one would find the teaching practices I was learning about: flipped learning, project-based learning, bring your own device. I would like to think it paints me as a connected educator, a lifelong learner, a reflective practitioner. It would share my interest in the teachings of Gordon Neufeld, William Kilpatrick Heard, even George Couros. It would show that I'm learning about social emotional learning and digital citizenship.  I'm interested in these things yet trying to know more.

My posts would have response comments from educators all around.  The comments would show educational conversations that took place in response to the ideas in the posts.  The digger would see how others have reacted to my thoughts giving insight into the professional relationships I was forming.

A little more digging and one would see my twitter account. Reflective quotations, friendly banter, thoughtful questions. It would contain photos, videos and statements of inspirational ideas, of complex inquiry, of attempts to make clear some difficult concepts. It would show my responses to educational chat questions.

My Slideshare account would show slides for the workshops I have done. My Youtube account would have Math and Science teaching videos. Even more digging and one might also find articles written for educational companies or magazines.

This rich mosaic shares a picture that I couldn't paint in a 40 minute interview, nervous and out of breath.

Some have happened upon my digital footprint and caught up with me.  Some have offered me opportunities; some have even offered me consulting work.

I tell this story as we put a bow on one year while unboxing another.  A whole new grade level at our school will be dealing with BYOD and digital portfolios.  And the question some of the staff will ask is why.  Why use these tools?  Isn't blogging just another add on?  Isn't the proverbial pendulum about to swing?

For me, blogging goes hand in hand with passion and purpose.  It is inseparable from my career.  It got me where I am today.  It helped make me into who I am today.  I want to share that with my students.

What does a digital portfolio mean for students?
- It is a stage to share learning.
- It is a place the receive feedback on that learning from anyone
- It shows progress and development.
- It allows students to take charge of their digital footprint.

Who needs a digital portfolio? Everyone.

By the way, if it wasn't obvious, I took the job.  Hey, I had done a little digging myself.  I liked what I saw and that made the difference.