How we did it! Making Student Web Portfolios
Kristin Koptiuch, Associate Professor of Anthropology
Arizona State University at the West Campus, Phoenix, Arizona
WHO: In the early 2000s, collaboration between IT staff and faculty was the key to successful web portfolios. IT staff led a Web Workshop in the basics of whatever platform we used back then (FrontPage, PageMaker), as well as mini-lessons in the basics of working with images using Adobe Photoshop Elements. Several IT staff members roved around assisting students in the initial Web Workshop and final Web Marathon. By the time we got to 2018, online platforms had improved to the point that I alone gave the Web Workshop and had everybody in the class up and running with their sites by the end of an hour or so. Jimdo.com was everybody's favorite website creation platform!
WHAT: Multimedia technology unleashes exciting new dimensions to the conventional hard-copy portfolios widely used in higher education to present in reflective and integrative fashion the corpus of assignments created/written by a student in a particular course or internship.
- Accessibility to an audience beyond the classroom—Internet technology cultivated the students’ consciousness of an audience beyond the professor, beyond the classroom. The students' writing changed, took on greater purpose and responsibility as they strove to speak to the Phoenix metropolitan community and the wider world beyond.
WHERE: ASU at the West campus computer labs. Over time, more and more students preferred to bring their own laptops for creating their websites, but as not everyone had a laptop, we still met in computer labs to give everyone access.
- Incorporation of basic multimedia technologies—Students used digital cameras to document their research and fieldtrips. Digital photos and occasional mini-movies and audio interviews enhanced student web pages and enlivened their writings.
WHEN: Conduct an instructional Web Workshop early in the semester, and a final “Web Marathon” at the end of the course. We found it effective in the instructional web workshop to have students create blank web pages for specific assignments required for the portfolio, all linked to their home page (1.5 hrs). These web pages lay in wait for students until later on when they were ready to post their completed (ideally, revised and corrected!) assignments at the end of the course (ideally could be done in 3 hours in class if text had been edited, photos selected in advance).
HOW: Some of the lessons we learned
- Incorporate web portfolio requirement into the course syllabus and grade structure (I made the website itself worth 10%).
- Create a lesson plan for Web Workshop with realistic expected outcomes tailored to the specific course. Students retain handouts with server mapping address, login info, and step-by-step tasks to be accomplished for the template of their site.
- Design of websites became very easy by use of templates from which students can choose. Discourage students from spending too much initial time on design; create the skeleton template of all required web pages first! Students can add additional pages later if they wish, as well as creatively experiment with their own design. Students quickly discover how to overcome the somewhat canned effect of templates by creative use of color, images, font, etc.
- Convey a sense of collaboration to the class—each student’s individual work contributes to the larger, richer picture of a collaborative research adventure. Encourage a mix of individual and team projects, and links to each others pages. Web portfolios can easily accommodate team projects. Team members can develop a collaborative project and link its final product to each of their web portfolios (text-based, poster, or PowerPoint presentations converted to html, etc).
- Stress that the subject matter content and quality of students’ assignments is more important than the design of their web pages. Allay students’ anxiety about the technology by assuring them that they will be able to complete their portfolios in the allotted in-class lab time.
- Inclusion of a personal biography page in each student's portfolio informs their audience about the author of the portfolio projects. Discouraging anonymity heightens student responsibility. Only basic info recommended, these days.
- Reinforce the reflective aspect of portfolio pedagogy by inclusion of a final assignment asking students to reflect on what they have learned in the course. I typically ask students to include in their portfolio an Open Letter, in which they offer for their readers' consideration selected key points of knowledge or understandings gained in their course experience.
Top of Page
Return to About Student Web Portfolios
Go to Student Web Portfolio Links