Snapshot of learning for Google Apps, Teacher Dashboard and 1:1 Computing
How ePortfolios and student-owned mobile devices have been used to increase student ownership of their learning
Contributed by Lenva Shearing, Bucklands Beach Intermediate School, Auckland
The implementation of an ePortfolio approach in an educational setting will often be determined by context. At Bucklands Beach Intermediate the student portfolio is an online repository for evidence of process and progress of learning, supported by reflection, feed-forward and understanding next steps for learning. If portfolios are to impact positively on learning, students need to have ownership of their own portfolio and understand how it can assist them with their learning. Also students who have access to their own devices at school are able to regularly work within their portfolio and develop an increased confidence in the selection and use of digital tools to support their learning.
“For better understanding it is also necessary to think of the use of an ePortfolio as an approach, or method, or support structure to teaching and learning. That is, a digital portfolio is both a quantifiable thing and at the same time, a process”
Bucklands Beach Intermediate’s vision ‘To educate, guide and mentor all students to become successful, internationally minded, lifelong learners’, also reflects The New Zealand Curriculum vision for our young people who will be “confident, connected, actively involved, lifelong learners” (NZC, p.7).
After 20 years of paper portfolios Bucklands Beach Intermediate has developed a strong philosophy and purpose for using portfolios. The school community also recognises the potential of elearning to support learning and teaching and felt confident in aligning these pedagogies to inform the development of digital portfolios. (Digital portfolios: guidelines for beginners, p.27, pdf,2496K).
The purposes of the portfolio are:
- to support processes and evidence progress by:
- to celebrate learning through:
- celebrating success
- demonstrating and sharing outcomes or a product from a process of learning
- enabling creativity
- recognising and responding to student voice
- to provide a repository for student owned artefacts by:
- providing online space for the storage of student work
- providing a tool to facilitate life long learning.
Through a portfolio the learning journey of the student can be monitored from students knowing what they need to learn through to reflection and identifying next steps for learning. This enables increased opportunities for teachers and students to undertake formative assessment activities and use the information and feedback to modify teaching to meet the needs of students.
“The important thing in formative assessment is to gain as much information as possible in respect of what the student has achieved, what has not been achieved, and what the student requires to best facilitate further progress” (Assessment Online: Formative and Summative Assessment).
Bucklands Beach Intermediate has supported a student owned mobile device programme since 2009. Currently 210/806 students bring their own laptop or iPad and 87 students bring their own iPods. The school’s policy advises parents of the following:
“The Internet has been provided to further supplement the school’s information resource; therefore the uses of the Internet are to be focused on activities that support learning and teaching. It is expected that all students at Bucklands Beach Intermediate will access the Internet.”
Teaching and Learning
The portfolio supports a trans-disciplinary approach to learning. It is not restricted to, and not limited by areas of the curriculum, and can reflect such areas that can be challenging to evidence in other formats, for example key competencies.
Bucklands Beach Intermediate began this journey six years ago, when several teachers recognised the need to be able to select and store digital artefacts of student learning. The digital artefacts had been identified as more representative of the learning than could be shared through a paper based portfolio. These teachers had began informal digital portfolios in their classroom using Wikispaces.
The following year the school purchased KnowledgeNET a Learning Management System (LMS) with the aim of providing school wide access to a managed online environment. Over the next two years, all students and teachers were set up with digital portfolios and the paper portfolios were phased out.
In 2011, the school changed to Google Apps for Education and Teacher Dashboard. The reason for this change was primarily to allow for easy export of the eportfolio after Year 8, and also to create a more manageable digital learning environment for teachers and students.
While the need to embed digital content was seen as the catalyst, changes in approaches to elearning and pedagogy were also beginning to open up new ways of learning.
Students have personal access to a range of communication and productivity tools, for example, mail, sites, docs, blogs.
Teacher Dashboard enables easy access for teachers to monitor and respond to student work.
Storage is in the cloud, freeing up the school server. Access is anytime anywhere.
Easy for teachers and students to engage in ongoing and simultaneous feedback and feed-forward.
Seamless transfer between applications and embedding content in other online environments.
Easy to create portals for learning, that is, classes, teams and school.
This initiative has been informed by learning and the needs and interests of the students and community including:
• improved student achievement in inquiry‐based learning, reading and writing skills, digital literacy, inventive thinking, problem solving, and communication and presentation skills
• the building of a culture of use based on the concept of digital citizenship
• the engagement of students in self‐directed learning through the use of differentiated instruction
• meeting the needs of diverse learners, through engagement with digital content and resources
• the promotion of communication and the use of online collaboration tools.
The following examples demonstrate how digital content has been selected and used in response to student learning needs in literacy and mathematics.
Students have used web based tools to demonstrate their learning. These artefacts can be stored in the student portfolio for self and peer assessment. Teachers and family are also able to access and comment.
Use the links below to view each of the snapshots in context.
Viddix: Creating authentic contexts for writing and reading using online resources.
Dabble Board: Creating authentic contexts for problem solving in mathematics using screen capture software to demonstrate thinking.
The portfolio helps bring together the school’s vision for effective pedagogy to promote student learning. Consequently student voice is central. The ability students have to develop reflective journals and incorporate their personal learning blogs into the eportfolio, ensures they have the opportunity to develop as independent learners.
When students are confident to talk about their learning, demonstrate their understanding and identify next steps through a portfolio approach they can become active participants in the learning process.
“Students value the ownership and increased responsibility for their learning. Also the opportunities to to express themselves and contribute in a global community.” (Lenva Shearing)
Managing change effectively requires that teachers inquire into the impact of their teaching on their students. Teacher reflective practice is paramount and is supported through regular professional learning and development (PLD) that is planned and evaluated for its effectiveness.
The increased use of ICTs and online environments has required teachers to step-up in relation to e-learning and pedagogy. Integration is not an option and enabling elearning for staff is also a priority. Staff meet each term for PLD focused on eportfolio and elearning pedagogy. Teachers look critically at the impact of current learning programmes to inform planning and modifications needed for individual students and their classes.
Weekly ICTPD drop-in sessions are also available. Staff can request specific support or participate voluntarily. eLearning leaders are also available for classroom support or ‘just in time’ learning. eLearning leaders include teachers, staff members or students.
“In 2011 we received 2 medals for top in NZ ICAS Computer Exam. Both these students use their own laptop at school. We also received 11 High Distinction passes. All these students use their own laptops at school.” (Lenva Shearing)
The ePortfolio: A personal space for learning
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