Thursday, February 5, 2009

Google Sites and Portfolios

Web 2.0 has opened up new ways to engage online students in the process of developing electronic portfolios for assessment. The primary purpose of portfolios for educational technology courses is to document proficiency with the technology standards for teachers, as well as to make connections with standards and their teaching practice through personal reflection. The final capstone assessment for many of my online and blended classes is a electronic course portfolio.

With Web 2.0 and the possibility of creating personal blogs and wikis, the electronic portfolio process is more accessible, useful, and convenient for both novice and advanced technology students. They can include text, upload artifacts, insert images, hyperlink to websites, embed YouTube videos, type out reflections, and make connections between their artifacts and their competencies in meeting teacher technology standards. I started with blogs structured around assignments that meet the course objectives and teacher performance expectations. They submit their blog address in the dropbox for instructor grading according to rubric criteria. They then share their blog address in their discussion response to their peers, inviting their colleagues to review their blogs and leave comments.

With Google Sites, I believe web-based personal electronic portfolios have come of age. Students have the perfect tool at their fingertips. Not only can they create a complete website with text, image, embedded videos, and web links, but they can also attach files and automatically include opportunities for peer review in the comments box. They can publish their documents in Google docs and then embed them within their webpage. Students can decide with whom they wish to share their work. They can continue to update their portfolio as they go through their degree or credential program, linking various course portfolios through a main index. The advanced user can customize the aesthetic appearance of the portfolio site, but the novice user is able to focus on the content without emphasizing the technical challenges.

Instructors also have an effective tool for assessment with Google Sites. With a carefully designed rubric based on clearly defined criteria for grading, instructors can use the electronic portfolio as an authentic assessment tool. Artifacts can be linked to standards or course objectives. Students can not only demonstrate their proficiency through the submission of artifacts, but they can also show their understanding of course objectives and program standards through thoughtful reflection, making connections to practice. Instructors can provide meaningful evaluation privately through the eCollege course or email or publically with comments. They can also collaborate with their professors or colleagues. Students can illicit peer feedback through comments. They can choose to share their site with the rest of the world, or just with selected individuals.

Students can take their portfolio with them after their college experience and they adapt their portfolios for employment purposes. Although the future of Google Sites may be not be guaranteed, the skills students gain in this Web 2.0 portfolio process will contribute to the creative, problem-solving mindset of a teacher who is willing to explore the next newest creative innovations in the world of technology.

Examples of Tech Templates:
Helen Barrett's Google Sites and Apps

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