Monday, April 29, 2013

Digital Portfolio Journey - A story of change in an online world

 Sharing my passion and involvement with digital portfolios across 10+ years

In 2002, as part of my Masters degree in Educational Technology Leadership at the George Washington University, I completed a subject called 'Digital Portfolios'. There was no going back! I was totally engaged and driven to create and maintain an online portfolio. I was also totally driven to share my knowledge with others. 

My first digital portfolio was created using Dreamweaver - yes, can you believe it...there was no access to Web 2.0 tools back then. So, I did my apprenticeship with HTML and tools where you had to start from nothing. EVERYTHING had to be built from the ground up. In many ways this gave incredible freedom, and of course this can be done the same today - but not many of us bother anymore when templates and other site genreation tools are so easy to use!

This first digital portfolio was housed on a server in Perth (of all places) and I bought the domain name ''. I maintained the portfolio and domain until about 2007. I was delighted to find it all intact via the WayBackMachine, which is a tool available through Viewing my old portfolio again I am amused at the design (green and red?), the navigation (I think I did a good job here!) and effects (yeah! rollovers were so cool in those days! - go to the site to see what I mean), and the general 'clunkiness' of the site. However, I still love the theme I developed with the metaphor of 'the four parts of the body'. I explain this on the 'About this portfolio' page. 

Here is the essential outline of the metaphor I used:
  • Thinking: This is representing the areas that have required more cognitive input such as my portfolio rationale, educational philosophy statement and artifact reflections.
  • Being: This is purely the section where I get to the 'heart' of the matter with an outline of my interests and family.
  • Reaching Out: This section shows the work I do along with other people such as teachers, colleagues, parents, students. It is aimed at showing my contributions to education in and out of the classroom.
  • Making Tracks: Finally, where I have been and a hint at where I want to go. My education and experience are outlined as well as professional development participation.
I also like the fact I put time and effort into creating a hyperlinked 'Site Map' of the portfolio, thinking that this is a skill/practice we should continue to emphasise with students.

In about 2007 I let this original portfolio drop in favour of my NEW portfolio platform  -Wikispaces! Yes, I loved and still love as a platform for sharing content, and of course for collaborative work. So my next portfolio took advantage of the ease of creation using a wiki platform. I also used PB Wiki to share presentations and workshop spread my content across two platforms. This wiki portfolio has not been updated since May 2012 - the same month I made a decision to rebrand myself as I moved from being in a school and in a classroom to consultancy.

 My most recent digital portfolio is also my company and my latest branding, Learning Confluence. It is an attempt to share my professional activity in an organised and visual/multimedia enhanced way so that colleagues and prospective employers can easily see what I am able to do and what I have done. This portfolio uses Wordpress as a platform, and I have a new domain name and new server hosting space.

Challenges with portfolio development over the years:
  • Updating! Looking at Learning Confluence again today it is about 3 months out of date...again. This is an ongoing challenge to focus on updates and 'What's new' sections for regular or current viewers
  • Balancing artifacts with reflections/responses - This is something I always emphasise when sharing portfolio development with others - but may not be something I am so good at myself EXCEPT I have kept a regular blog for many years, and this is the main reflective part of my learning. It is very important though for portfolio development to include critical responses to artifacts in some form
  • Changing platforms and losing work - Yes! Over 10+ years and across 3 platforms there have been some things 'lost', but with WayBackMachine most of the old material is still there. Yeah! I was even delighted to find the PDF file of the Digital Teaching Portfolios course I put together and presented at a major PD event in Kuwait still online! Downloading now and storing in clouds for future reference....I know I probably have this somewhere on a hard drive backup.....
A final word about my Internet archives, c/o WayBackMachine....!

Also around 2003 as part of my course I created my own Learning Management System (LMS) and called it The Hub. I set it up as a sub-domain of The WayBackMachine is showing a lot of what was there - not all - but enough to get the idea that this was an online portal for both teachers and students to learn and interact and share together. I piloted this with my Grade 9 class in Kuwait - had to get parent permission etc - and ran assignments through this, including The Hub discussion forum, using a PhP platform (still a very relevant way to set up forums I think). Anyway, it was an exciting time to be doing this - and of course today, more than 10 years later, with ELGG and other tools we have greater fluidity and mobility and access to multimedia - but we continue to be challenged as to the best way to develop those crucial conversations and interactions and sharing via an online format......

Thanks for sharing this journey with me via this blog post. I encourage you to reflect on their own professional digital portfolio journey and respond to this post with your portfolio history!

This blog post is cross-posted with THINK Global School teachers in Spot.


Unknown said...

Great article . Im starting online digital portfolios using evernote. Have a look, would love some feedback from someone with so much experience

Anonymous said...

Hi Julie, your journey has always been an innovative one, that has made great use of cutting edge technology along the way. I wonder if you ever thought or dreamed of being in the position that you are today. Thanks for including other classrooms in your journey and creating the Flat Classroom concept with Vicki Davis. I wonder what will be added to this post and journey in another 3 or 4 years time. Congratulations on your amazing achievements and all the best in this new direction that your working life is taking.