Before deciding on our new ePortfolio solution, the teachers involved in the research project came up with a number of criteria based on a PIMS brainstorm (plus, interesting, minus & solutions). They critically looked at ePortfolios as they were currently being implemented at our school using iWeb and the new direction they wanted them to go. Here are their thoughts:
Web based (anywhere, anytime): Strong interest expressed to create online portfolios rather than saved to CD. The ability to work on and view the ePortfolio from any computer both within school and home would allow greater flexibility for all participants.
Web 2.0 tools integration: Increasingly student learning incorporates the use of Web 2.0 tools such as Animoto, You Tube or Google Docs. Being able to embed or access this learning within the portfolio is desirable as is the ability for interactivity such as RSS feeds, commenting and feedback.
Ability to comment and reflect: Teachers discussed the need for the students, parents and teachers to be able to actively comment on student learning during and after learning is posted in the portfolio.
Ability to demonstrate learning: The ePortfolio solution needs to be able to display (show within the portfolio not provide a link to file) all the possible media that the students will generate or want to share. This includes but is not limited to: podcasts and movies (m4v, m4a, mov), documents (pdf), images (jpg, png, gif) and embedding Web 2.0 content.
Social networking: If the solution could help facilitate collaboration between user and generate a social learning network it would be an additional benefit to assist learners in obtaining feedback and constructive comments for further learning.
Secure: Making the online portfolios secure and password protected is a high priority especially for parents.
User friendly: Teachers were very clear that the ePortfolio solution should be easy to use for everyone from the Year 3 students to the parents and potentially, relatives who are overseas. This will mean the emphasis of the portfolios is on learning and reflecting, not the constant teaching of skills that enable it to be done.
Aesthetics: The presented solution should be visually clean with a simple yet functional layout.
User storage space: The solution requires the ability to provide a significant amount of disk space for each user. Based on the ePortfolios of 2007, this would be an average of 100MB per user.
Manageability: The solution needs to be easy to set-up, manage users, administer and moderate comments. This is especially so for the teachers who need to access a whole class of student learning for commenting and feedback.
Expandable: The solution needs to be able to incorporate any new technology or learning innovation that may occur.
Tech know how: The solution needs the users and administrators free from having any specific computing knowledge such as the ability to program in html or php. Any problems and questions should be able to be answered through the products associated online tech support or documentation.
Tech support: There needs to be an active user community with associated forums, documentation and development.
Free: A free ePortfolio solution would be ideal although this may also incur additional hosting costs.