Digital portfolios – ePortfolios – Children as reflective learners

“A reflection of the student as a person undergoing continual personal development – not just a store of evidence”  Helen Barrett

I have been involved with the development of digital portfolios before, but am about to start fresh with a new group of students. In the time since my first try, Web 2.0 has taken over and the possibilities and potential of these products has increased. Helen Barrett says “the boundaries between portfolios and social networking are blurring”.


Previously, we chose to use familiar and easily available software as the tool (MS Powerpoint). The results stayed on the school server with no real audience until parents maybe saw them when they were taken home at the end of primary school. Nowadays, the world of blogging appears to be the tool of choice and immediately this brings ePortfolios into a different light – the potential worldwide readers with the responsibilities that that entails and the potential of feedback from a wide audience.

There is an enormous array of material available and examples of success stories abound.

Basically, my aim will be for the students to create an electronic record of their learning – reflective in nature, including work samples and written or oral reflections. My experience tells me that the hardest part is encouraging thoughtful reflection in the children. The mechanics of scanning and photographing work samples and adding text etc is simple.

Some of these questions I know the answer to, while others I need to answer

I also add my own further wonderings


  • How to include the whole school in the process?
  • How to establish criteria – or should we allow major personalisation?
  • Which tool to use? If blogs, how to manage with younger children (passwords etc)
  • Where to start ?
  • How to encourage the language of reflection required with the students?
  • Do we include goal setting?
  • How do teachers/parents/readers provide feedback

I have bookmarked many amazing resources while I am planning, pondering and researching and they can be found on my Delicious account.

Anyone out there with any ideas or experience to offer? 

12 Responses

  1. marie says:

    Celia is this happening for Prep?? 😉 Very exciting!

  2. Judith says:

    What a thorough post. All of your questions are interesting and I wonder what answers the students (and parents) would give and if they would be any different to your thoughts and those of your colleagues. What about school policy? Anne Mirtschin would be a good person to ask. Good luck and I’d love to know how you get on.

  3. […] Leave a Comment A TED presentation by the e-portfolio guru, Helen Barrett, is shared on Celia’s blog. Helen takes the latest developments in technologies, such as social networking tools, to find ways […]

  4. Rob McDonald says:

    I have been using e-pearl electronic portfolios in my Grade 2 classroom for the past 4 years. I think it is something that you would be very interested in looking at.

    twitter rmcdonald.17

  5. Pam says:

    Great post Celia with interesting and valuable questions to consider. Reading this is very timely for me as I’m just considering starting eportfolios with my Yr 6/7 class. Thanks.

  6. Jamin Lietze says:

    Hi Celia, I understand your situation as I was there about 2 years ago. I documented my journey on my blog if you are interested I shared my research into different ePortfolio platforms, reflections on our progress and presentations I have made. I do hope it helps you as there are lots of things to consider (like the questions you have written up here).

    Jamin 🙂

  7. tcash says:

    Hi Celia, What a wonderful post – I would like to add the video to my own blog (I will credit your find!). Like you, I have done digital portfolios before – PowerPoint, iWeb, and I am now en route towards a new ePortfolio experience. Your questions are so well thought out and relevant, and I would love to dialog/reflect more about this with you, if you’re up for it. I am wavering between Google Sites and a blog, but leaning more towards a blog – I think it has great potential and can evolve with the students as they grow. Also, we have a very transient community, so a blog is something kids can take with them, or share with family overseas. It is an exciting learning journey, congratulations on capturing the “packing” part of the trip so exquisitely!

  8. Michael says:

    Hi Celia – Take two – enjoyed this – lots of food for thought – Had already submitted comment – but link was broken – let’s see if this gets thru.

  9. Michael says:

    Recounting Take 1 – I wonder if the day of having to perform a task which is not intrinsically pleasing is dead and buried -or are we just hopeful that the rest of the world catches on –

    I know that Google has a new world view to work spaces – flexible work hours providing a happy feel good environment and has had most interesting and most encouraging outcomes – something all work places and employers should take note of.. his topic was featured on the ABC Lateline Business with Tiggy Fulleron – did a segment on it last night – worth a look. –

    I have no doubt that Harris is on the money with long held premise of student engagement and intrinsic value being an absolute goal. The trick still remains though how to motivate people – students,teachers and people in general to perform when the task doesn’t always suit or enthuse –

  10. Michael says:

    I also agree with Helen Barrett’s views –

  11. Raff Grasso says:

    Hi Celia,
    A great reflection, issues that you question are ones that I am now going through and smiled when reading each question as I too have very similar questions!!
    Would love an update on how you have decided to move ahead with portfolios in your school ( if you still use them at all) now that student blogging is happening..
    I believe blogging has so much to offer and opens up so many possibilities for learning and reflection with a greater audience, I just need to convince others in my school to start as I feel I am the only one who believes in the benefits of blogging!!
    Thanks for your wonderful insights and thoughts, always an excellent read for me!!
    Many Thanks

  12. […] a reflection by Celia Coffa  ’Digital Portfolios – E Portfolios – Children as reflective learners‘  I have had many of the same thoughts and questions and wonderings. With the greater use of […]

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