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Dear Otto: What are Options on Digital Portfolios

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Dear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. If you have a question, please complete the form below and I’ll answer it here. For your privacy, I use only first names.

I received this question from Mary.

I teach Media Production, where my year 9 students get creative with Adobe Photoshop, Audition, Premier Pro and Stop Motion Pro. They have a wonderful time, but I would love to be able to provide them with a way of keeping a digital portfolio of their work. Our school runs Blackboard, but the digital portfolio add-in is very expensive, too much for our small school.

Are there any free web-based options I should know about, or less expensive ones?


Hi Mary

Have you considered getting students signed up for wikispaces? You can create a free wiki, add each student as a member and let them create their own page, then they can embed each project right onto their wiki page. I did this with 5th graders last year and got some beautiful results (albeit mixed because of the age. Some got it; some glazed over).

Another option is Google Sites if you have an education account for Google Apps. Each student has access to a Google Site website, which allows embedding. Not free, but no cost if you’re already a Google Apps member.

Finally, an option I’m trying out this year with 5th graders (who don’t yet have access to Google Apps and have difficulty remembering a wiki log-in and maneuvering through it) is Kidblogs. It’s based on the easy-to-use WordPress platform and I’m hoping provides lots of the same WordPress blog options as you see in this Ask a Tech Teacher blog on a closed school platform. I’ll let you  know how it goes.

And, I’ll post this and see if anyone has other ideas. Thanks for the interesting questions.

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Jacqui Murray is the editor of a K-6 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, creator of two technology training books for middle school and six ebooks on technology in education. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, Cisco guest blog, Technology in Education featured blogger, IMS tech expert, and a bi-weekly contributor to Write Anything. Currently, she’s editing a thriller that should be out to publishers next summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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18 thoughts on “Dear Otto: What are Options on Digital Portfolios

  1. I use Weebly (free educational account) with my 5th graders to teach website development as well as using it as a digital portfolio. They can embed their photoshop projects as well as podcasts and documents.

    • Great suggestions. I’ve seen some Weebly websites–they’re amazingly professional for FREE. Is there a place we can see what your fifth graders have done? I understand if that’s not possible.

      Thanks for sharing.

      • Unfortunately there’s nothing to look at right now because I deleted the accounts after school was out and we haven’t started this year’s websites yet. (The students are given the opportunity to save anything they want before I delete them.)

  2. I just found the website I thought their canvas option might have promise for e- portfolios. I would love to hear if anyone has any experience using it.

  3. Here’s a suggestion I received via email. Looks good!

    I heard about but have not yet used it with students. It allows the teacher to upload content to a portfolio for each student in his/her classes. There is even an app for you phone where you can snap a photo of student work and upload it.

  4. I used over the summer to blog with the incoming 3rd grade class about what they were reading over the summer. Of course, we had to include the various summer activities they were doing. The kids loved it so much we’re using it in the classroom this school year. Their weekly HW writing prompt is to ‘write’ their answer to a question posted on Kidblog. So far so good!

  5. I would love to try out Kidblog, but saw the space limit is 500MB, would this be for each class? I have two 5th grade classes, with 22 students in each, have always been concerned with space available for students to create a portfolio along the year. What do you think, should I consider using Kidblog?

  6. Hi Sheri, the Weebly option sounds also fantastic, as I have a Weebly Pro account, only you use it during the year and comes the end of the year all is deleted and gone, if they save anything it would be their documents right? But the idea of them creating their own websites and blog sounds really great! I might opt for Weebly I think. And they don’t seem to have any limits if you have a Pro account, right?

  7. Pingback: What’s a Digital Portfolio and Why Should You Use it? « Jacqui Murray

  8. Pingback: What’s a Digital Portfolio and Why Should You Use it? « Ask a Tech Teacher

  9. Pingback: What’s a Digital Portfolio and Why Should You Use it? « sdoukakis's Blog

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