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Frimley School Trial of e-portfolios

Frimley School Trial of e-portfolios

1. Students to become successful digital citizens - Students will have opportunities to connect, collaborate and create.

To support the trial of an e-Portfolio for each child in two classes, to give students, peers and caregivers the ability to share and reflect on their learning.

We approached two enthusiastic teachers who were already implementing the use of web 2.0 tools alongside a variety of other technologies and were very keen to trial e-Portfolios in their classrooms in the senior school. This story shares the strengths and frustrations we encountered setting up the trial.


  • to encourage children to be good digital citizens
  • to share the “process” of learning that goes on alongside the “outcomes” which are often the only things we see in a traditional paper version of a learning portfolio.
  • to improve children’s literacy through the use of age appropriate tools
  • to find a way to encourage parents and caregivers to see, and interact with, their child's learning
  • to open up access for students and teachers in order to allow easy connection, collaboration and creativity (after ongoing technical issues and network difficulties had created a barrier to learning)

What did we do?

  • The Cluster facilitator, who is also on our lead team, investigated e-Portfolios for 6 months (latter half of 2010)
  • We investigated paid L.M.S. options and free hosting
  • We met regularly as an I.C.T. lead team to discuss the way forward
  • We were guided by the Ministry of Education Guidelines for ePortfolios
  • We presented the proposal for the Trial e=portfolio classes to the school Senior Management and B.O.T. in late January 2011(approval was given at the BOT meeting)
  • We contacted Jan Zawadski(Hapara) about establishing Teacher Dashboard for 2 classes at Frimley(as this was seen as a necessary component for teacher control)

What happened?

  • Set up Google Apps school-wide for teachers and classrooms. Each teacher had professional development around the use of Google Docs initially. Throughout the year all teachers had 1-1 PD with one of the Lead Teachers in the use of Google Docs.
  • Students in the 2 trial classes started using Google Apps for their writing and presenting their work at school. As the children became more confident with the Apps they started using them at home and now this has become ubiquitous in the two e-portfolio classrooms for much of their learning. After all the other teachers saw what the 2 trial teachers were achieving with their students with Google Docs, there was a real snowball effect across the school in the use of Google Docs for writing. Now nearly all classes are using Google Apps (Docs, Presentations and forms) in their learning programmes.
  • The 2 e-portfolio classroom teachers met regularly with the e-Learning lead team to plan and discuss the structure and content of the e-Portfolio and it’s digital artefacts.
  • We met to work out what the process for the students would involve.
  • e-Portfolio trial students all had individual logins which gave access to their own documents, email and personal websites. (While most classrooms in the school were set up with a whole class login, the two classrooms trialling e-Portfolios had Google Apps set up for the students individually using Teacher Dashboard.)
  • The whole school signed and returned updated User Agreements for computer hardware and internet use.

What did we learn?

  • Google Apps is a powerful collaborative tool for both children and teachers.
  • Children are motivated to collaborate, create and connect if they are doing it online and sharing it with peers, teachers and caregivers. Learning is fun. ‘Emblazon this on your mind, learning is far more effective when it is fun’ - A quote from what someone said in a book I read a few years ago!
  • Greater buy in and ownership by the children. They are more in control of their own learning.
  • Educators need to spend the time discussing the content and what the starting point should be.
  • At this stage our ePortfolios are only visible to the student, teacher and caregivers but the children are wanting a wider audience to share their learning. Needs to be revisited at the review meeting at the end of the year.
  • In most cases the children’s own reflection process has become deeper and more meaningful.
  • Children are asking to do their writing before and after school and during break times. Numerous teachers are saying this.
  • Parent comments have reflected that children are wanting to spend time doing schoolwork via Google Apps.

What next?

  • More parent education and encouragement on developing home/school contact via parents personal email log ins instead of logging in as the child to comment
  • School survey(for parents) on use/availability of Internet and email at home or work
  • Investigate opening up children's online portfolios to a wider audience or perhaps develop a part of the portfolio that can be shared with the world (maybe a blogger blog)
  • Collect student voice via shared Google Document on what would make this process better: what have they enjoyed, what issues have they had, what would be any improvements they would make:
  • Student Comment: “The google docs has really helped me with lots of things. I can do my homework on it. I can chat email my friends . Its really fun to do homework now because it feel like playing games but I’m really doing my homework. I hope it they have got it at my next school because I want to learn more about it.”

  • Parent comment: “It’s been a very helpful initiative as far as my child’s learning is concerned. It made homework a lot more fun for her. She was very enthusiastic about getting her presentations done and equally eager to show me what she had done/learnt in school that day/week. As a parent I was very much in touch thanks to I.T. to what my child was learning and could support and encourage her accordingly. All in all an excellent initiative.”

  • Year 4 class comments and Year 6 class comments, Parent voice
  • Increasing the number of classes participating in the senior team(another 2) and eventually all 6 classes in the Senior Team
  • Making more technology available to the classes participating so all students have more regular access.

Reflection on E-portfolio Introduction 2011 (Laura - classroom teacher)

  • Need compulsory parent meeting in week 1/2 - parents only
  • Follow up meeting with parent and child once e-portfolio underway(sharing session)
  • Teacher needs to make regular comments
  • Parent comment still an issue - need to find a way to get more engagement from parents
  • Get updates on site changes would give parents more up to date involvement in their child’s site
  • Lots of technical learning at Year 4
  • Introduce Google Docs earlier for draft writing (into their site)

Reflection on E-portfolio Introduction 2011 (Alan - classroom teacher)

  • Independence in learning was firmly established early in the classroom culture - a necessary platform for self managing e-portfolios
  • Google Docs embedded into the site is a great hook for literacy (reading and writing). Allows for the process to be seen from draft to re-craft
  • Lots of students continuing their learning at home
  • Parent interest and discussion in kids sites tends to be mostly oral rather than written comments on the site. Parents like regular updates on the site.
  • Would like to add extra pages to home page with kids goals, reflections and teacher reports

Results and conclusions:

  • Google Apps has allowed the home/school partnership to strengthen but we have some way to go for this to be embedded across our Senior Team culture and practice.
  • Children are more motivated to learn when using these tools.
  • Children find using ICT’s fun, which makes them more productive and willing to learn.
  • Teacher comments: “It is encouraging to see the children working on their newspapers as a shared doc so they can collaborate from home. I, as the teacher can check up to see who’s on and when, and am able to insert comments as children are writing from home in the evening.”
  • The evidence for all our results is based on observations and feedback from parents, teachers and students.