Just finished a nice high school English e-portfolio project (I am going to drop the e for the rest of the post). Here is a page with links to the student work http://www.english2010.com. The project had two parts: a group portfolio, of mostly new work, and an individual portfolio, reflecting on work done during the year.
What was good about the project.
- Students worked in groups to apply knowledge learned during the year. Most students picked a theme in literature they studied (such as Nature) and applied it to a work they studied in class. The twist was that they had to pick a new work/theme combo that wasn’t the focus of earlier discussions in class. The goal was to get students to see that themes are… well themes, and that they run through many works even if they aren’t explicitly the focus of the work. Other students covered a literary era and applied new themes to that era.
- Students worked independently to reflect on and improve their own products. For their individual portfolio students chose projects/papers done earlier in the year and discussed them. They also had to correct any errors.
- It was great to hear the groups negotiating how to divide up the tasks, planning multimedia and layout, and sharing resources as they worked.
- As students were wrapping up, I mentioned that they could use this site in the future for other classes or for a resume to help with applying for scholarships, colleges, and jobs. (Hopefully it will catch on!)
We chose to use Mahara after also considering Google Sites, Wikispaces, and WordPress blogs for a few reasons:
- It is tied into Moodle-no new accounts need to be made, the students already know where to go.
- The drag and drop interface and ability to add and remove columns on the fly allows students to rearrange text, images, and videos as their pages evolve
- Students could upload media directly or embed from YouTube
- Students can reuse this content in a future portfolio
- Students can export the pages as html files, so they can always have a copy of their work
- It is nicely set up for groups to work together on a page
- It has an awesome granular permissions system so students could keep work private, and/or share it with a few people before making it public (many students don’t want the world/their classmates to see unpolished work)
Things that weren’t great about Mahara
- Students wanted to apply individual/group themes to their pages to change the look (coming soon?)
- Multi-page views with navigation were a pain, students had to add a text box and copy it to each of their pages (coming soon?)
- Embed code from sites like vimeo and myplaylist didn’t work