I'd like to introduce you to a free, easy-to-setup, kid-friendly way of starting a digital portfolio with students: KidBlog (http://kidblog.org).
For those that aren't sure what a digital portfolio is, think of it in exactly the same terms as you would a traditional portfolio- a collection of a student's work that illustrates how they have grown throughout the course of the year as well as how well they have mastered content. The only difference with a digital portfolio is that the products are published to the Internet and are therefore great ways to interact with an authentic audience of peers and others.
Here are some pros and cons I've uncovered while utilizing KidBlog with students:
- Very simple to set up a class and create student accounts
- Safe and easy to moderate. In the Settings tab, you can choose how open you want this blog space to be- from completely private to completely public. Also in this area, you can set your class up so that every new post and comment needs to be approved before it is published to the blog. Comments are easy to preview and approve within the Control Panel.
- Easy interface- looks and feels just like any other word processing program that your students have used in the past.
- A unique URL. When your class is set up, it will then have a unique url that you can use to post as a link (ex, http://kidblog.org/yourclassname)
- Responsive support/help. I had a question about the amount of storage space and was contacted within an hour by someone that worked at KidBlog.
- Not much storage space. The default is 100MB, which gets eaten up quickly if your students are posting a lot of pictures. There are ways around this, however- you could upload pictures/files to a separate account (Flickr or Schooltube, for example) and simply have students put links on their blogs that point to these offsite hosts. Contacting KidBlog through this link, firstname.lastname@example.org , can help this situation slightly- the support person I emailed with immediately upgraded our storage space from 100MB to 250MB. Not a huge jump, but every little bit helps!
In my school, our entire 7th grade class has started this year on the path of using KidBlog as a digital portfolio tool. If you get a chance, check them out and leave a comment! (Scroll down to the bottom of this page).
Good luck, have fun, and let me (edtechsteve) know if I can help you set up an online space for publishing your students' work online!
Next week, we'll explore the use of Weebly as a space for publishing student work. Until next time!