We are about 5 months into our ePortfolio switch from iWeb to WordPress. One of the main reasons for the decision to change was to use the features and capabilities of Web 2.0, especially the ability to comment and provide feedback and student reflections on learning as it is uploaded, from anywhere.
There is not a lot of choice in iWeb as to how to organise learning and reflections when compared to a blogging system like WordPress. Below is a screenshot of an ePortfolio page menu created in iWeb. Essentially it is a list of pages as they are created throughout the year. There are no options to nest pages hierarchically or to categorise and tag blog posts.
By using WordPress we now have more choice in how to organise and structure the layout of the learning presented.
We can have a hierarchical page list with the WordPress page parent option as captured on the left. This is the option we have chosen for presenting most of the learning for our students. The students still use the blog, for a whole variety of uses which compliment and add to their reflective cycle of learning. Each page usually has several examples of learning and thinking included, such as draft versions of work to completed versions, along with associated feedback, comments and reflections.
With this option you need to ensure that the themes you are using enable commenting on pages. Many do not. This can be overridden using these instructions, if you have access to the theme’s editor or files. Some hosted blogging services do not allow you to edit these files so it may not be applicable to use this type of organisation if you want to allow commenting on pages. I would suggest that if you do organise your eportfolio in this fashion you need to be able to comment on page. Without it you are denying the opportunity to interact, collaborate and engage in the whole feedback, feedforward, reflective cycle of learning! Check the themes!
The second option for organising the eportfolio is to have no pages except the main blog. This option utilises the ability to categorise every blog post and add tags to further describe the content just like a ‘normal’ blog. So rather than having a maths page, you would categorise a blog post with maths instead. Additionally you could tag this post with geometry, angles, protractor or anything relevant that describes the content of the post.
So rather than having a list of pages you would have a list of categories and a tag cloud which would act as your navigation. Clicking on a category or tag title takes you to the all the posts in that category or with that tag. Also, the issue of commenting as above is not relevant because the ability to comment on blog posts is always available.
So why did we (I) choose the pages option to organise the eportfolios? A couple of reasons:
- The teacher sand students were already familiar with organising the eportfolios using a page system in iWeb. Maintaining this meant a smooth transition into the new system.
- Post, tags and categories were all new concepts to the teachers and students involved in the project (fantastic teachers and students though!). Introducing a new system, new skills, new concepts could possibly have taken the emphasis away from the purpose of the eportfolios to support learning, not the learning of new skills.
On reflection, would I change what we have done? I think that either option is really workable and each has their advantages. It really depends on the knowledge of the teacher and how they, and their students, want to organise their learning. If it were me facilitating this process with my own class, then the second option would definitely be for me.