In the second lesson of her course, Dr Barrett discusses and supplements through various resources her concept of the two faces of electronic portfolios wherein she asks is it a workspace for students to process their work throughout the semester; is it a showcase, that is, a product to be built perhaps at the end to be assessed and graded, or is it both? It is, and there are three development levels evident in its implementation. During its process stage it is a “case” for storage or a digital archive, and there is a suggestion that no work, or even the attempts made toward producing assignments should be lost. The electronic portfolio can provide the workspace where everything is saved toward the goal of achieving best examples. It is a reflective journal, which may take the form of a blog, so students look over their various attempts and remark on what they have learned at each stage of their development, and of course, it is a presentation in the traditional sense of how we perceive what a portfolio is, and this may be displayed on a structured website, being that this is the electronic age, where we have so much technology available, many young people are adept at handling same, and there is no longer any need to archive and transport stacks of paper documents as examples of their abilities and achievements. In fact, today there exists the possibility of carrying around representations of ourselves in our pockets on cell phones, small tablets, and the like.
One of the facets of teaching in the modern classroom that heretofore has seemed an insurmountable problem has been the overuse of personal gadgets, which until now have “gotten in the way” of teaching, if an instructor sees his or her job only in the traditional way of, say, spouting grammar rules and expecting students to listen attentively, learn and remember, and then be assessed in some standardized way. This just isn’t possible anymore. The technology is here to stay, and with Fulanita checking with friends about an assignment due in the next hour’s class, or the weekend’s activities, or worse, playing some hand/eye coordination game that ostensibly has nothing to do with the task of the moment, it is frustrating to the teacher who sees it as a distraction. What if, however, the lesson were conducted through the said gadget, and the student were motivated by the idea that every task being done was becoming part of her personal portfolio?
One of the ways, among many possibilities, that students can express themselves, in a mode they often feel motivated to do, is through the telling of stories. These give them the opportunity to write about personal issues, emotions, and problems they are having difficulties in resolving through non-creative channels. I have been assigning writing tasks for several years, with and without formulae and/or templates, but mostly as work to be done outside class. These have always been meant to become a part of students’ portfolios, and have been uploaded to a social networking blog. Unfortunately, without guidance, that is about where I have left them. In recent semesters, students have been instructed to produce presentation portfolios, using Powerpoint, of which, it is hoped, they maintain a copy along with what they present for a grade, but I can see now this is only the end product half of the concept, and there has been little motivation to put an enthusiastic effort into these presentations. Most do not see this as something they may have use for later in life, and thus are doing the work merely to obtain a grade. I feel the onus is on me as the instructor to motivate students to produce permanent records of their learning for purposes they may not yet see. I hope I am up to the task, and that I come out of the course equipped to be more effective at my job.