Blogs as Web-Based Portfolios Part 4

(Part 4 of 4 on a series of blog posts to be made into a free PDF. Your feedback, ideas and thoughts are critical! Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3)

Making your WBP an Open Platform for Learning

The two major benefits of having a Web-Based Portfolio are:

1) They are accessible from any Internet enabled device
2) The ability to share knowledge and information with a wider audience

It is point number 2 that I feel WBP holds the most impact on students and their learning. When students have an audience that extends beyond the walls of their classroom something happens. Their writing, their content, their creations become important. Time and time again I have had teachers from 4th grade through 12th grade come to me and talk about how their student’s writing changes (always for the better) when they have an audience beyond the walls of their classroom.

I believe there is a mental shift in all of us when we know that this post/product, is going to be read, watched, or listened to by others. We do better work, we try harder, and we want it to be good. By giving student a space, allowing them to own it, and encouraging them to share their knowledge within it, we receive better work from our students. Students produce exactly what we require them to produce. If we require them to produce content that is potentially viewable by billions of people that is exactly the content we get.

If you are not going to make your WBP open to the public then there really is no point to create WBP in the first place. The public part is what makes WBP so powerful. It’s what allows a 5th grade student to teach other 5th grade student about variables, or an 8th grade student to teach other middle school students around the world about Internet privacy. When we allow students to openly reflect we never know what connections will be made or where it might take those students. It feels good, no matter how old you are, to know that someone else is reading your writing. WBP give authentic power to students to create content not only for the purpose of school but also for the purpose of self worth, and self motivation.

Conclusion

In the end I believe that giving students a web-based container that they control, that they have ownership of, creates for a powerful Web-Based Portfolio solution. There are many ways and many places that these container can be housed, but allowing students to take control of their own content and their own learning is the first step. Trusting in them, and teaching them to be positive contributors to society, and to create content worth reading is what we try to do in education everyday. Creating a system that allows students to reflect over grades, years, schools, and time in an open way can only have positive outcomes when it comes to learning. WBP do not come without work. It will mean time shifting that 3 weeks before conference you spend on putting together a portfolio to committed time ever week both at home and at school to create a portfolio that truly reflects student learning. A container that can house not only the best work, but the work that needs the most reflection. What excites me most about WBP is that by moving to a student-centered student controlled approach we create meaningful learning opportunities both online and off and allow students to reflect and learn not only with the 20 or 30 students in their class, but with the billions of people around the world that, like them, are hungry for knowledge. Blogs as Web-Based Portfolios are a great way to allow students to share their knowledge and learning with the world.