Some ideas about online Student Portfolio tools

Last week, one of our Career Practitioners reached out to ask if I knew of any e-portfolio tools that can store resumes and awards, track activities and achievements, and allow the school to see what’s happening in a secure, independent program.

Which is a great question – schools who can help their students build a comprehensive and accurate portfolio of accomplishments will put them in a great position to demonstrate their capabilities when they need to (and they will definitely need to).

The e-portfolio also needs to be engaging and memorable, without becoming a burden on the school, so that students remember to add their achievements themselves, and it also needs to be accessible once school is finished and into perpetuity (or at least for 5 or 10 years until they build up their adult portfolio).

So, to sum things up, an e-portfolio needs to be:

  • Easy to use,
  • Affordable for schools,
  • Secure, independent, and safe, to protect valuable student data,
  • Good at reminding students to add their items,
  • Accessible once school is over,
  • Easy to share with potential employers and recruiters, and
  • It also needs to allow the school to see and manage the student’s activity.

But finding a system that does all this within a school’s budget is not an easy ask.

We built a Portfolio tool about 5 years ago, and it was good for its time, but technology has moved on a long way quite quickly and while it’s still a good tool if you don’t have anything else, we can’t give it the bells and whistles I’d really be looking for if I was a school with budget to spend on an e-portfolio tool.

That’s why I turned to the hive mind on LinkedIn for help – I wanted to find out what people are using right now and how they work within schools.

 

I’ve broken the responses into a couple of categories, depending on what you’re looking for and how you could use them, and I’ve supplemented the suggestions with a few of my own.

#1 – Hacks for existing tools

Tools like Google Drive, OneDrive, or any other bulk storage provider will allow you to create a folder for each student, where you can store awards, videos, images, projects, and resumes, which can be accessed by both the school and the student, and remains active once the student has left school.
This method could work especially well if you already use another tool like Google Classroom or Microsoft Teams, because you can integrate the folders within your neworks.

One drawback is that there’s a chance the whole system could get messy, and you’ll need to go into each students folder to see what they have uploaded, where a dedicated portfolio tool may make student management easier to handle.

#2 – Do any of your existing platforms also offer an e-Portfolio?

Student Portfolios are a pretty popular add-on module for career information platforms, so there’s a chance that one of the systems you already use offers this as a service.

You could check out Student Edge, they have a passport module that works well on mobile devices, and Morrisby have just launched a Tracker that allows you to create an e-portfolio and also track engagement with career planning and activities. Career Tools is now owned and operated by Year 13, and they also have a e-portfolio as part of their platform which is available in Australia.
One note of caution – if the portfolio service is an add-on for a for-profit business that makes most of its income from student data or advertising to students then check the fine print before you start storing sensitive student data within the platform. You might also want to check out if they have any significant links or partnerships with other platforms as well.

If you’re using a platform and you’re not sure if they offer a e-portfolio, then check directly with them, and you may even find they have something in the works (just to be clear – we don’t. We’re flat stick creating career education programs and as a Social Enterprise that’s funded entirely by schools, we don’t have the capacity to do justice to an e-portfolio at this point.)

#3 – Dedicated e-portfolio tools

There are a few platforms out there that are primarily e-portfolio tools, and these tend to be feature-packed and easy to use.

There are a couple of programs underway to create a bespoke Learning Passport by some of the public Education Departments, and I’d suggest that these will also be available to independent and catholic schools once they have been developed.

Here are a few of the dedicated tools you could investigate:

Studium
Based in Western Australia, this platform gives students an ‘Education Passport’ and shares student data with the school.

Canvas – Portfolium
If you’re already using Canvas at school, they offer a dedicated e-portfolio tool called Portfolium, which can include evidence of learning (i.e. projects, assessments, etc.) as well as other accomplishments.

PebblePad
This group mostly works within the university space, but they have some great resources and it may be worth checking out what they offer.

 

#4 – It would be remiss of me to not point out LinkedIn

No, LinkedIn isn’t designed to create student portfolios, and you won’t be able to track your students in the same way that you would with a dedicated system, but there are some serious benefits to thinking about LinkedIn as your platform.

Schools who are leveraging LinkedIn are able to give their students a powerful tool that they can start using before they finish school, and which they can then build upon throughout their career. The platform is easy to use and engaging, and students can form their own professional community within it, which (in my opinion) is preferable to giving them a static record of achievement that sits within a school-based system.

LinkedIn also helps students connect with alumni, and, as long as you set it up correctly, you can link your past students with your current students to open up new opportunities, without needing to rely on alumni returning to campus.

What’s next? 

Whichever platform you go with, there seems to be quite a bit of movement within this space. I’ll be watching with interest to see what clever new systems come into the space over the next few years.

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