Monday, December 17, 2012

Student Portfolios X iPads

Student portfolios have been staple of many classrooms for years, iPads have not.  With the emergence of mobile devices in classrooms and as I increasingly worked with schools and districts to establish thoughtful and effective methods of integrating these devices, I kept returning wondering if it would be possible to have students compile a portfolio by only using their mobile device.  Below are what I consider to be the three most viable solutions, for both 1:1 and shared iPad environments.

Google Drive Solution: 1:1 and Shared - This solution works well in both scenarios because students can quickly and easily login / logout of their Drive account on shared devices.

In a previous post I outlined how Google Drive and the Drive iPad app can be used to create student portfolios.  The setup process I suggest is described below.

            • Student creates a Portfolio folder.
            • Student creates sub-folders for each course or topic within their Portfolio. 
  • Student shared either the entire Portfolio or specific sub-folders with the appropriate teacher.  Folders can be shared with either editing or view-only access within Google Drive.
Documents: Students can create, edit and share Google Documents directly within the Drive app.  Documents can then be organized and placed within specific folders in a student portfolio.

Images: Pictures can be taken directly in the Drive app and uploaded to a specific folder or images can be pulled from the camera roll.  Use this feature in conjunction with image editing apps (Skitch), mindmapping apps or any app that exports to the camera roll. 

Video: Video that is located in the camera roll can be uploaded within the Google Drive app.  Use this feature in conjunction with ExplainEverything or iMovie to have students share video without having to publish their content to the web.

Evernote Solution: 1:1 and Shared - This solution works well in both scenarios because students can quickly and easily login / logout of their Evernote account on shared devices.

In a previous post, I outlined nearly every solution that Evernote provides with iPad use.  Teachers and students can also use Evernote as a portfolio creation platform.  The setup process I suggest is outlined below.

          • Student creates a Portfolio Notebook (for a grade level or for individual courses)
  • Student uses Evernote as a digital notebook platform and takes notes directly in their portfolio.
  • Hand written notes can be taken with Penultimate or students can snap pictures of their hand written notes. 
  • Student writing or papers can be emailed to the student portfolio using the Evernote email address associated with the account.  Further, documents can be emailed to a specific notebook using this trick.
  • Screencasting Solutions:
    • Explain Everything will export directly to Evernote.
    • EduCreations will not export to Evernote, but a link to an EduCreations screencast can be placed in an Evernote note. 
  • Images:
    • Students can snap images of their work directly into a Evernote note, or images can be edited using Skitch and then sent to their Evernote Portfolio
Sharing an Evernote Portfolio: Once the portfolio is created, students can share the notebook with their teacher.  An Evernote notebook can be shared directly to another Evernote user, and the shared notebook becomes viewable on any device.

Drawbacks to Evernote Portfolios:
  • Student Age: While there is an Evernote for Schools program, many schools I have worked with have expressed concerns regarding the TOS for Evernote and having younger students make accounts.  
  • No Collaboration: With a free Evernote account, when a student creates and shared a Portfolio notebook, the collaborator has view only access.

Book Creator Solution: 1:1 - Because books are created and stored locally within the app on a particular iPad, I suggest using this solution for a strictly 1:1 setting or possibly with younger students who are using shared iPads.

Books created with Book Creator can include a combination of:

              • Text 
              • Images - from the camera roll
              • Recorded Audio
              • Video - from the camera roll
Students can use Book Creator through the course of an entire year or throughout a course to slowly compile evidence of their learning and understanding.  By using a combination of video (potentially from Explain Everything or iMovie), text, audio and images, students can create a dynamic and unique representation of their learning.  

Advantages to Book Creator
  • No login required to create
  • Books can be exported as PDF (audio & video is lost)
  • Books can be exported as iBooks
  • Exporting options include any app that has an "open in feature", including:
    • Dropbox
    • Box
    • Google Drive

I'll be talking more about using iPads in the classroom this summer at the EdTechTeacher Summer Workshops in Boston, Chicago & Atlanta.  Join us there!


  1. Hi,
    We're still on PCs and not iPads, but e-portfolios are a big part of our curriculum. However, we're still using PowerPoint! It's not good for word processing or adding audio. Do you have any suggestions on web platforms, etc.?


  2. Doing a book creator portfolio that can be sent as an iBook could be a great solution for many juniors and seniors that need to send portfolios to universities - I'm thinking videos for athletes, college essays, pictures, drawings you name it - all in one cozy, creative book so that evaluators can have a real feel for the student.