Tag Archive | ePortfolios

A Secondment Whirlwind Tour – 2 Years in 2 Minutes

alumni 1

 I have less than 2 weeks left of my two year secondment as a Curriculum Support Teacher (the title has changed a few times since I first took up the post) and all the secondees who are leaving the team to return to class were asked to put together alumni presentations to share any changes/successes that we have influenced – or been part of – in our particular area of practice.

 On Friday afternoon, the wider Curriculum Support Team members were treated to some very imaginative, fun activities such as: fairy stories; poems; games.

My own presentation probably seemed bland in comparison :-).

 I chose to tell the story (as best I could) of a few of the changes I’ve made that I’m most proud of and I shared four of these …. there are more, but we only had 5 minutes 🙂 


How it Began


 I intended to begin my presentation by talking about what I’d been up to before I embarked on my secondment journey – but, as I missed out some of the important stuff, I’ll take this opportunity to add it here.  

Just prior to the secondment post being advertised, I’d completed a case study of my experience of having given learners their own blogs and wikis.  Very soon afterwards some work colleagues mentioned that an ICT Support Officer secondment opportunity was available and I decided (was persuaded?) to apply for the post in order to share what I’d learned.

I don’t know how many applied, but there were 8? candidates interviewed. I must have said something to convince them that I was the right person for the job because I here I am two years on writing this blog post about my secondment. My main remit was to introduce others to any online resources that could improve the learning and teaching experience.


Success Number 1


 The first success I talked about was the number of class blogs I’ve helped to create.

The screenshots on the powerpoint slide show just a small amount, and in some schools every class has their own blog.

 I’ve also had lots of feedback from teachers telling me about the positive impact of having a class blog has had on their classroom practice.

Finding the right host to recommend was a learning curve but finding http://primaryblogger.co.uk/ was a godsend. The support is second to none – check out  johnmclear  on twitter. He’s on a mission to improve learners’ experience via ICT.


 Success Number 2


 The second success I mentioned was having had the opportunity to spread the news about the host of freely available online tools. These tools can greatly benefit both online and offline classroom learning. Digital Storytelling, active learning, parental involvement and collaboractive activities are just some of the areas they can help enhance.

Sharing how using simple inexpensive tools such as mp3 players with built in microphones or digital cameras can make a difference to the quality of the learning experience was made easier because I was able to demonstrate by showing real life examples from my own class blog (capably looked after by others until my return).


Success Number 3


 The third success on my agenda, was the changes to Falkirk’s Virtual Teacher Centre (known as the VTC). Part of my original remit was to oversee the day-to-day management and maintenance of the website. As a class teacher, I wasn’t very familiar with the VTC. I knew that it had links to great resources, but as I could never remember the password, I opted to use Google searches or the LTS website instead.

I was aware from talking to other class teachers that the VTC was not the first port of call for them either when they were looking for online resources. I managed to persuade my new colleagues that it would be a better idea to have the VTC more accessible by taking away the need for a password.

As an added bonus, the Staff area of the VTC is now the default homepage for every primary school staff teacher in Falkirk – what a great vehicle for sharing news, websites, case studies, etc.


Success Number 4 


 My next choice for a ‘Success Story’ was the realisation half way through the secondment that teachers are not always the best recipients of CPD sessions. When I began hearing statements like:

This looks great, but I’m not sure I could manage to do this with my class”

I offered to work directly with the children – this was very warmly received..

Can you do that?”

.. was the typical response.

When she heard about this approach, my new line manager was convinced that this was the right path to take and gave me the ‘thumbs up’.

Working with a few students, and allowing them to become the ‘experts’ – who then spread their new knowledge to create other ‘experts’, who then spread their new knowledge ……. 

Some even shared their expertise with peers in another catchment area .


Where to Now?


 Last summer I stumbled upon the idea of giving learners their own eportfolios and I’ve been trying to sell the idea ever since. My musings led me to writing this:

When I mention this to others in my own Local Authority – and to others outwith the Authority – the first question I’m typically asked is : So … what is an ePortfolio?”


I find the answer to this question difficult. I think it’s because when I first heard about the idea, I was so attracted to it that I began reading any available relevant literature. This led me to writing a blog post about what I understood about the concept … but I can’t regurgitate all the bullet points in that that post every time someone asks me to explain in a few sentences what I mean by an ePortfolio, so I’ve tried to reduce them again to get the main points (as I see them) across. 

1. What is an ePortfolio?:

  • It’s a collection of student work that tells the story of the student’s efforts, progress, or achievements 

2. What should they look like?

  • There should be evidence of self-reflection

3. What’s the teacher’s role?

  • They need to plan carefully to provide clearly defined criteria 
  • Effective feedback should be given to students, to encourage them to observe their own learning journey

4. What about the pupils?

  • Comments should go beyond “I think I did OK” or ” I think I have more to learn.”
  • Pupils should be monitoring their own learning so that they can adjust what they do when they perceive they are not understanding.

The next question that I need to prepare for is: ” How do you manage something like that?”

Whilst on secondment, I’ve only been able to ’play around’ with the idea and I’m looking forward to trialling it ‘for real’ when I return to the classroom in August. I’ve been very encouraged, however, by the motivation shown by the children I’ve helped set one up for so far. Because I set up the wikispace eportfolios, I receive an email every time a change is made to one of them.”



 Back to  the Future

alumni final

I’m really looking forward to seeing where my ePortfolio idea leads to when I try it out for real in the classroom.
The insert in my powerpoint presentation was a clip of Memoona talking about her view of an ePortfolio and what it means to her.
I’ve included the origional Voki here. She seems to have grasped the idea 🙂
Have a listen!

A Brief Look at Building the Curriculum 5


The learning and Teaching website’s section on Building the Curriculum 5 : A Framework for Assessment states that:

“Building the Curriculum 5 – A Framework for Assessment is the next step in providing support for staff as they implement Curriculum for Excellence. It provides an outline of the approaches to assessment to support the purposes of learning 3 to 18.”

Last week, we worked in groups to try to familiarise ourselves with the document. Each group member looked at a different section and tried to summarise the main points. I looked at the section on How We Assess and I’m going to publish my summary here. Others  might condense the chapter differently, but I’m putting it on here in the hope that it will be more accessible in the future should I ever wish to revisit my own first thoughts about the  document.

How We Assess

  • A variety of approaches and range of evidence should be employed. These should dependent on the activity, but also on the learners’ preferences. Learners should be able to show their thinking and provide evidence
  • Assessment should be fit for purpose. it should be valid, reliable and proportionate … and it shouldn’t be so much of a burden that it takes away from the learning and teaching time
  • Assessment should: demonstrate learners’ understanding; confirm progress within school; provide information for other partners; supply information for use beyond school (exams. etc.?)
  • When designing discussions, tasks, activities, etc., it is important to obtain evidence from inside and outside school. Sources may be: observations; records (e.g. oral); information (e.g. dialogue and questioning; writte; product; accounts by others (peers, parents, staff, etc.)
  • Assessment needs to be carefully planned for interdisciplinary learning and records must be kept but it must be manageable and practicable within day to day teaching
  • A section on the SQA describes how National 4 and National 5 will replace Standard grade exams. Access, Higher and Advanced Higher qualifications will be revised. New Literacy and numeracy qualifications are being developed from S3 onwards – these will be awarded on the basis of a portfolio and will initially involve input from the SQA who will award grades.

When the group got together to share our respective summaries, one thing that stood out was the repetitive messages included in the document. There were 5 members in the group, and on quite a number of occassions voices could be heard saying, “Yes, that’s much the same messages I got from reading my section.” Despite the repetitiveness, I agreed with the sentiments.

We then looked at how we might put this in to practice and were given a scenario so that we could assess an aspect of  Literacy.  After some discussion we looked at emerging approaches to assessment . These come with a ‘warning’ message: 

“However, in their day-to-day practice, practitioners would not be expected to document the assessment process for all learners in this kind of detail. It will be up to local authorities and establishments to decide how evidence of learning is to be captured, evaluated and used to inform next steps in learning and teaching.”

 We also looked at specific examples.  

I began to wonder that, as it’s just not possible to provide that much detail about each student’s learning without compromising learning and teaching time, might we end up going back to paying lip-service to assessment (PLP’s, Self-assessment, Peer-assessment, etc.)?

What if they were allowed (encouraged/trusted/guided?) to assess their own learning via  ePortfolios?

Too many questions …. and I’ve gone off on one of those ‘blue sky thinking’ tangents again – time to publish 🙂

What a Difference a Day Makes!

Ever since Jaye Richards  introduced me to the idea of ePortfolios on twitter , I’ve been contemplating how this might be the way forward for a whole variety of  things (peer assessment, self assesment, personal learning plans, motivated learners, CV’s … the list seems endless to me). 

The first blog post I wrote about the subject has been followed up by a whole host of others – but yesterday I thought to myself that I’d laboured the point for long enough and it was now to focus my (blog) thoughts on other issues. ……… So why is this blog post going to focus on ePortfolios??

Two events happened today to convince me that the subject was worth revisiting yet again.

  • The first one was a visit to Larbert High School where I stepped in to the shoes of a High School English teacher. I’m trained in Primary, so it was a bit daunting as I waited for the first class to arrive. I wondered if it might resemble a scene from To Sir With Love  – it was actually quite the opposite 🙂  The class were there for two periods and the time was used to revise for the fast approaching Higher exam. After the first hour, I thought they might appreciate a short break and I offered to show them a snapshot of the ePortfolio ideas I’ve been experimenting with. Just on a whim, I asked if any of them would be willing to record their thoughts about the suggestion of students at their level having an ePortfolio. I was delighted when four of them told me that they’d spend 5 minutes of their break recording their thoughts on a little mp3 player with a built in microphone (I happened to have a few of them in my bag from a CPD session I’d delivered the previous evening). I was delighted when they knocked on the staffroom door during the break to say that they’d done just that! They gave me their permission to put it on here (I got the impression that all four had spoken, but I could only find the extract below – hopefully i’ll see the class again tomorrow and clarify this) 



A Class Blog Journey Continues

nethermains1Three primary 6 stage children from Nethermains visited Carronshore just before the Easter break. They wanted to know how to add a  Voki and Photopeach slideshow to their new eportfolios. The picture here shows them concentrating as their ‘peer mentors’ demonstrated how to use the websites and then embed the completed efforts into their eportfolio. The class teacher had brought them along to see this for themselves. I’d already visited their school with a small group of Carronshore children to introduce them to the concept of eportfolios.

On both occasions I was struck by the genuine feeling of willingness to share and to listen (I think this picture and the ones below illustrate this?)

 Here’s a picture taken when the Primary 6s from Carronshore explained the process involved when adding a voki to an eportfolios home page.  I can’t remember which one was was displayed on the screen, but I think it was Jaimey’s .


The Nethermains group only had an hour with us, so it was a bit of a rush to help them to create their voki character and upload a personalised message to the site before embedding it into their new eportfolio.


These eportfolios are very much a ‘work in progress’ and won’t come to much without a lot of input from all involved. I know that when I return to class in August, the school management team will give me the freedom to set up an eportfolio experiment with my own class …. and this secondment has given me the opportunity to play around with the potential of reaching out to others in the authority.

On reflection, setting up these eportfolios is the result of a journey that started with a class blog – which then led to me giving children in my class their own online spaces (and voices) .  

I hope I’ll be adding some more to ‘The Story of the Carronshore Blog’  soon …..

Still Playing Around With ePortfolios

 I’ve beememoonan writing …. and tweeting …… and talking for a while now about ePortfolios!

 I initially set them up for a few primary 6 stage children at Carronshore. Since then these children have helped some Primary 6s at Nethermains to set up one, too. The Nethermains group and their teacher are coming along to Carronshore tomorrow so that they can find out how easy it is to embed a Voki and Photopeach slideshow into their ePortfolio.

 I’ve also been sharing the idea with the teachers from the Art Department at the local High School and I’ve helped a small group of 4th year students to begin working on their own ePortfolio.

 When I mention this to others in my own Local Authority – and to others outwith the Authority – the first question I’m typically asked is : So … what is an ePortfolio?”

I find the answer to this question difficult. I think it’s because when I first heard about the idea, I was so attracted to it that I began reading any available relevant literature. This led me to writing a blog post about what I understood about the concept … but I can’t regurgitate all the bullet points in that that post every time someone asks me to explain in a few sentences what I mean by an ePortfolio, so I’ve tried to reduce them again to get the main points (as I see them) across. 

1. What is an ePortfolio?:

  • It’s a collection of student work that tells the story of the student’s efforts, progress, or achievements 

2. What should they look like?

  • There should be evidence of self-reflection

3. What’s the teacher’s role?

  • They need to plan carefully to provide clearly defined criteria 
  • Effective feedback should be given to students, to encourage them to observe their own learning journey

4. What about the pupils?

  • Comments should go beyond “I think I did OK” or ” I think I have more to learn.”
  • Pupils should be monitoring their own learning so that they can adjust what they do when they perceive they are not understanding.

The next question that I need to prepare for is: ” How do you manage something like that?”

Whilst on secondment, I’ve only been able to ‘play around’ with the idea and I’m looking forward to trialling it ‘for real’ when I return to the classroom in August. I’ve been very encouraged, however, by the motivation shown by the children I’ve helped set one up for so far. Because I set up the wikispace eportfolios, I receive an email every time a change is made to one of them.

eport wikiname





Once you create an account, you can create more spaces with their own unique URLs. You can then invite others to become members of that new space by sending them an email.


invite gmail message blog post




One way to keep control over the new wikispaces you create, is to invite users using the ‘gmail trick’ method by adding a ‘+ name’ the first part of the email address.


The instructions in the slideshow below show the steps involved and describe how the same method can be used to create multiple  accounts in a variety of online tools.

ePortfolio and Transition Opportunities

 I only have a few ‘secondment’ months left. I’ve really enjoyed the experience and I’ve learned loads from it, too – once I found my feet -:)

Although my remit is to provide ICT support to all stages, it’s been mainly primary schools that have approached me directly. As I come from the primary sector anyway, this didn’t really surprise me. I’ve always been keen, though, to become more involved with high schools. I think this may be because of the interest I have in the transition stages between the two sectors.

I’ve tended to teach children in the upper stages of primary and in the past have set up individual blogs for the children. Although these were well used at the time, they tended to disappear in to the ether when the children moved on to high school

When I wrote a blog post about  ePortfolios, a comment by Ray Tolley helped me understand what had happened to the various online spaces I had set up for children in the past.

Ray commented:

“Perhaps one important point missed so far is about longevity. Having taken the trouble to help pupils build up an e-Portfolio, what happens if there is no ‘portability’ to the Secondary school or beyond? I doubt that promises of ‘interoperability’ will really materialise in the next 10-15 years! I think that it is very important to invest in a system that is future-proofed. I feel that children will get very frustrated if they have to start from scratch all over again when they move on to another school.”

Since then, I’ve been toying around with an eportfolio experiment  and last week the children who are taking part went along to Nethermains Primary school to explain the concept to some peer primary 6s.

Yesterday I asked the Carronshore children if I could record some of their thoughts about their eportfolio experience so far:

Now that I’ve set up the ePortfolios for the P6 group at Nethermains primary, they are really enthusiastic. I’ve also met with their class teacher who seems very willing to take things forward. The children and their teacher are coming along to Carronshore next week so that they can learn some more ‘first hand tips from the original ‘guinea pigs’ 🙂

I’m also really pleased that I’m going along to the local High School tomorrow to meet with some S4 students who are interested in setting up their own eportfolios to reflect on their Art work.

I introduced the concept to the teachers in the Art department recently and just today one of them (Mrs C)  left a comment on the Carronshore Blog :

Hi Carronshore!

Just a quick comment to say well done on creating the fantastic artwork for the exhibition.  I think it looks fantastic and really like the tartan designs.

I teach Art and Design at Larbert HIgh School and we are really keen to start a blog with our Art classes.  I will continue to visit and encourage our pupils to have a look at your wonderful work also!

Keep up the good work!

She also left a comment on a post I’d written on the Carronshore blog about the eportfolio experiment :

 The pupils (and teachers!!) are really looking forward to Mrs Vass visiting us on Friday to hopefully help us set up  ePortfolios with some of our pupils.  I really enjoyed reading that so many pupils at Carronshore enjoy Art and we can’t wait to meet you when you move up to HIgh school!

I’m really looking forward to going along to the High School tomorrow to introduce the S4s to eportfolios – I’ll blog about it 🙂

Secondment Thoughts

Three quarters 

 I’m now three quarters of the way through my secondment as an ICT Curriculum Support Teacher (the title has been changed to ‘support teacher’ from ‘support officer’ recently – I think I prefer the new one). During this second half of the secondment, I’ve felt much more confident addressing adults during CPD sessions. This was one of the biggest challenges in the early days.

Undoubtedly, one of the reasons that I feel more comfortable in this role now is because I have more ownership over the courses and activities on offer. Although I was able to introduce some new CPD courses during the first year of the secondment (almost all of these were a direct result of being introduced to new websites and ideas via twitter, by the way!), many of the courses were inherited. This was mainly due to the timing of the interview, as it was necessary to have some courses in place before a candidate for the post was chosen. In fact, apart from the job of supporting staff in developing their school website and maintaining the Virtual Teacher Centre (both the pupil and the staff side), everything else has been designed by me – and I’ve really appreciated opportunity!

 As well as offering CPD courses on setting up and sustaining class blogs and raising awareness of free online tools to enhance learning and teaching, I’ve been involved in a number of interesting projects. One of these is an on-going pilot project with a group of children in a local primary school. I’ve set up ePortfolios for them, and in February I have a meeting with the Art Department in their feeder High School to discuss the possibility of developing this in to something that might help the primary/secondary transition stage. Hopefully, other departments will get involved as well. It’s very early days, but the eportfolios also have great potential for formative assessment, as well as self and peer assessment opportunities. Difficulties of setting up effective Personal Learning Plans may also be addressed. I do realise that, for this to work properly, it needs to be an Authority wide initiative. A long term strategy is required …. but it’s a start 🙂

Off On A Tangent!

….. just because it’s my blog and I can 🙂

It still amazes me that I’d scarcely heard of a blog until just over three years ago. I’ve written on here before about how I set off on a journey that would change my approach to learning and teaching. The journey also gave me the confidence to allow children to take more of a lead in their own learning. I’ve copied this brief summary from elsewhere on here:

  • First I created a Class Blog so that I could give the pupils an audience for their work
  • Very soon after creating the class blog, I realised that it was important to allow access to the children’s own work so I created a wikispace for the class to post their writing
  • This didn’t work well, because if we all logged on and edited the space at the same time, problems occured (a “someone else is editing this space” message)
  • I later discovered that Wikispaces will set up separate username and passwords for students if you email them the information required
  • Soon I wanted the children to have their own blogs, but still have control over how they were used. I learned that East Lothian could help me set up individual blogs .
  • The next session, I managed to safely set up individual blogs on my own ……  I found out about the ‘Gmail+’ trick. For example, If you have a yourname@gmail.com account, it’s possible to create lots of new blogs using that same e-mail address. You can do this by creating new blogs with a ‘yourname+student1@gmail’ , ‘yourname+student2@gmail’ etc.
  • One advantage is that, although the pupils have admin rights, the teacher can also login to the blogs at any time.
  • Another advantage is that any comments appear in the teacher’s gmail account – even although the children can moderate them, the teacher has a record of what has appeared
  • It’s quite easy to keep track of what is being posted on the children’s blogs by using ‘google reader’, or something similar

One thing I miss while on secondment is the relationships that are built up with children in your own class. So I was delighted, recently, when Anna contacted me on ths blog by leaving a comment on my last post. She’s now in second year at High School, and has decided that she would like to start using her blog again. It was a simple enough task to transfer it over to primaryblogger (where there’s loads of space and a guarantee of no ads). I’m really glad that she wants to do this, and I hope she doesn’t mind me quoting one of my favourite blog posts. Anna wrote this in primary 7 (two years go) and it still makes me smile ….. and she kept her promise of writing her ‘thought of the day’ posts regularly. She also inspired others in the class (including me!) to keep their blogs going at the time: 

 “Well basically I’ve decided that I would like to have a future in blogging! I think that blogs are interesting and fun to write things on rather than writing something on paper. My thoughts for today are that blogs are a great way to learn, they are more interesting than doing something on  paper. When I’m older I think that I might do something to do with computers. I’m going to be starting a thing on my blog called thought of the day! Thought of the day is when I write a post about something I have realised, thought or discovered on that day.”

So thanks to Anna’s decision to take up blogging again, she has inspired me (just like before) to write a blog post. It always feels like work at the time, but it certainly helps – me anyway – to stay focussed 🙂 

ePortfolios and Assessment

When I first stumbled upon the idea of using ePortfolios, I wrote that this would be my new recommendation when teachers ask about giving children their own online space. Since then, I’ve spent a few afternoons (3 or maybe 4, I think?) trying to ‘sell’ the idea to to a few Primary 6 stage in Carronshore Primary School. I chose these particular children because I suspected that I’d be welcomed in the school – and I knew that they were already familiar with some of the online tools available to help them tell the story of their learning journey.

I worked with six children (3 girls and 3 boys). During my first visit I tried to explain the advantages of having an ePortfolio. However, researching lots of  published information is one thing – but how do you convey that to 9/10 year olds? After I’d spent some time trying to get the message over in a way I hoped they’d understand, I asked them to go off with one of the school’s mp3 players with a built in microphone and produce a welcome message for their (so far empty wiki shell) ePortfolio. The children were familiar with the voki site and were able to create their characters and then upload their own mp3 file.

Here’s Maryam’s voki – unfortunately voki.com was down at the time of writing this post, but I have a desktop version that I’ve uploaded elsewhere. I’ve learned to be prepared 🙂


 I was satisfied that they had grasped the general idea and during my next few visits we discussed and planned more aspects of the ePortfolios, such as what pages to include and what the content should look like.  But, of course, building an ePortfolio is a long process and we’ve barely scratched the surface …. but it is a start 🙂 I’ll put a page on the Carronshore blog with links to the ePortfolios.

Meanwhile here’s a link to Jaimey’s ePortfolio.


 eport post



 I’m pleased that the Art Department of the local High School are keen to be involved and have asked me along to their next departmental meeting to talk about the experiment. It would be great if the discussion area of the ePortfolios could have input from them (at the moment, it’s just the children themselves – and me).

I was also asked to go along to talk  to the L.A. Assessment Group today. I wasn’t sure what their knowledge was. I made a powerpoint presentation to try to show what I’ve learned about ePortfolios so far. I even tried to ‘wow’ them by uploading it to prezi as well 🙂

Here’s the presentation. I hope they ‘got’ it?

A Successful Falkirk TeachMeet!

 I think we all had a great time at the first Falkirk TeachMeet – I know I did, anyway!

It was great to see it all coming together as people worked very hard behind the scenes to make sure that everything was just as it should be. Katie  John Cassie Rich Peter were all beavering about two hours before ‘kick off’. A mention needs to be given to the staff at Carronvale House, Larbert . The venue was great and we couldn’t fault the service and value for money 🙂

There’s loads of other people to thank, too. John deserves a special mention for doing a brilliant job as M.C. The presenters were all great – and Con had us laughing in the aisles as he entertained us with his singing during his talk on how twitter is a great tool for CPD 🙂

A great big thank you again, too, to all our sponsors ……..   and the loan of the Smart Board from Steljes was just brilliant!

Unfortunately I didn’t get round to timing my presentation (and probably blethered some unnecessary nonsense as well)  so I only told half of the ePortfolio story that I’ve been working on with a small group of P6 children recently.

I suppose that making a 7 minute presentation requires similar skills as the art of  summarising what you want to say on twitter? I still struggle to join in with twitter converstations because I usually fail miserably to get points over in just 140 characters.

Here’s the gist of my presentation from TeachMeet Falkirk. It’s followed by some snapshots of the children’s ePortfolios …. and an explanation from one of them as to what he perceives an eportfolio to be about.

View more presentations from carronshore.

Play the presentation below to hear the Primary 6 perspective ………. ePortfolios in Plain English?

ePortfolios Revisited

A month or so ago, I wrote a post entitled ePortfolios in the Upper Primary Classroom? I’m now  investigating using the concept with upper primary stage children in Carronshore Primary School.  The children are Primary 6 stage and last session they were given their own wiki space which they used to record some things they’d been learning in class. I want to carry out a wee bit of research to see if it’s possible to use the same type of wiki to create an ePortfilio.

Before I meet with the children, I need to decide on the purpose for the ePortfolios, and what sort of template design would be appropriate. I’ve already decided to use the basic PBworks academic workspace with the children because they are familiar with the layout so don’t need instruction on how to use it. The children are also familiar with a number of free online tools and how to embed these in to a wiki. As I’m not based in the school at the moment, I think it’s important that a teacher there is involved in the project. The class teacher isn’t familiar with using any type of online spaces, but Evelyn W, who is currently teaching art in the school has just begun to look after the Carronshore Blog, and is keen to be part of the ‘experiment’.

Before deciding on the structure of the ePortfolios, I’ve done a bit of background reading (again) and come up with some ground rules for myself. These ideas are taken from a variety of sources and are not listed in order of importance:

  • The first page should contain an overview of the eportfolio and provide an explanation of the overall goals.
  • Reflection should be the ‘heart and soul’ of the ePortfolio
  • Be wary of  learners focussing to much on technology skills, thereby puting less emphasis on the content
  • Guidelines as to what is to be included shouldn’t be too prescriptive
  • The children should feel they have ownership of the ePortfolio
  • There should be a structure in place, but this should allow freedom for creativity
  • The learning takes place in the constructing of the ePortfolio, rather than in the end product
  • Children need to be introduced to the concept and given clear reasons for constructing an ePortfolio
  • Children should be given regular and useful feedback on their reflections

I also think it would be beneficial for me to revisit my own experience of using online spaces with upper primary stage children. These spaces were not ePortfolios – but I think that parallels can be drawn.  At the time, background reading helped me to gain a clearer insight and the thoughts that follow have been influenced by; Buckingham, Stern, Lafferty, Green and Hannon – and others………….. that’s the disclaimer bit (I’ll not refer to them individually here).

Every primary 7 pupil was given the opportunity to personalise their individual blogs. The children chose their own theme and created avatars. This helped them to gain a sense of ownership of their on-line spaces – they were allowed to play and experiment with them.  They were, in fact, testing out different versions of current and possible identities Up until then, the main audience for their online spaces was themselves, but they were also eager for peer approval during that stage.

So – when setting up the ePortfolios for the primary 6 children, Time will need to be given so that the children can customise their wikis. There won’t be as many themes to choose from, but they will be able to use various online tools to help them establish ‘ownership’. For example, activities such as making vokis and designing weemee characters might be useful here.

 Once their new online spaces were ‘designed and furnished’, the children were free to choose the content of their blog posts and wiki writing. The informal learning that took place happened primarily by means of experimentation rather than by following external instructions and directions.

Although, the ePortfolios will be more structured than the blogs and wikis were, the children will be involved in the planning stage so that they can have a say as to what that structure should look like, and as to what sort of content should be included. 

  Guidance was given by providing a sense of online audience by submitting comments on the children’s posts regularly. Offline, new interesting posts were shared with the children. This had the effect of influencing the others to add to their own blogs – often on a similar subject. They acted as role-models for each other. The children were asked if sharing their online writing in this way helped them to get to know each other better:

  • “In our blogs, we’re allowed to write about what we  want to write about, so we’ve got to know each other better”
  • “Some people in class don’t talk very much, but I can read their blogs and find out more”
  • “I feel as though I know my friends even more now because of what they write on their blogs”
  • “I like when we read the stories that people in our class have written on their wikis, and how good they are”
  • You get to know what peoples thoughts and dreams are through their stories on their wikis”

By adopting a similar approach, I hope that it will provide opportunities for reflection and self-assessment …  key ingredients for building successful ePortfolios. I also hope that this sense of audience will increase motivation.

I suppose that an important difference between the blogs and wikis that I’ve used with children in the past and the ePortfolios that we’ll set up soon, is the clearer motive for creating them. This  will be discussed at the outset. Goals will be set initially to help establish a sense of purpose.


I hope to have my first meeting with the children next week and when I get the ePortfolios up and running, I’ll give a wee update as to how things are going at the TeachMeet Falkirk event next month!