Upgrading my plans for electronic portfolios #edtech

Next week, I begin teaching a 7-week online course on integrating the Internet into teaching and learning.  This is one of four courses required for a graduate certificate for K-12 instructional computing applications.  Like most faculty members, I am constantly evolving my projects.  In this one, I am upgrading the electronic portfolio for this course, and I thought I would share this.

The theoretical framework for the portfolios is based in Mishra and Koehler’s (2006) framework for Technological, Pedagogical, and Content Knowledge (TPACK). I’ve done this in the past, but I haven’t felt a very strong connection from the students with the TPACK framework.  So, I’m trying to be more obvious and more intentional.  I am also relying heavily on Helen Barret’s work with electronic portfolios in order to organize the artifacts for the portfolio, as well as to engage the teachers and library media specialists in reflection of practice.  Lastly, I am borrowing from Alex Ambrose’s Googlios site in order to provide a tool that integrates easily with other tools, such as Google Apps.

In the past, I have allowed students to choose from a variety of tools, such as Weebly, PBWorks, Edublogs, Wikispaces, etc., in order to build their portfolios.  However, as we progressed through the semester, I inevitably found that some tools did not play well with others.  Moreover, some tools caused problems copy-and-pasting from desktop applications, such as Microsoft Word, into the web-based tool.  (Yes, I am aware that this is actually Microsoft’s problem of embedding the CSS into the copy-paste command.)

Image representing Weebly as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

For example, I {heart} Weebly for its simplicity and beautiful interface.  I’m serious.  One of the best interfaces ever.  But copy-pasting from Word into Weebly is aweful.  You just can’t get rid of the CSS that gets copied into Weebly. (I am aware that you can copy and paste into a text editor first, then copy-paste into Weebly, but I believe this is too much to expect from teachers and students.)

So, I decided that as I pushed graduate students to move to more web-based tools, such as Google Docs word processing documents and presentations, this would work well with the integration into Google Sites … and I hoping that this will prevent some frustration by the students (and me) in the future.

If you have experiences with using Google Sites, particularly things to watch out for, let me know.  I’m also really interested in embedding other media easily into Google Sites. So, if you’ve done that with some success (or frustration), I’d like to know that as well.


Image from http://tpack.orgThroughout this course and for our professional development in this course, we will be following Mishra and Koehler’s (2006) framework for Technological, Pedagogical, and Content Knowledge (TPACK) for developing teachers and library media specialists as technology integrators.

We will be considering technological knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, and content knowledge. In addition, we will increase our knowledge in the areas where these knowledges overlap in educational contents. Therefore, it will be incumbent upon you to consider a variety of different tools throughout this course and how they correlate with each of these areas. I have attempted to create activities and experiences that will address the various knowledges in this model.

To begin this work, you will create a matrix that identifies the different projects in this course along with the different TPACK knowledges and tools available to you. Here’s an example based on Helen Barrett’s work. This will be an overarching framework for your electronic portfolio in this course. You will not have the links and “Xs” yet on your matrix. Instead, as you work on a project this semester, consider new tools each time that might be appropriate for you to try. You will want to have a diverse set of experiences throughout the course, where you have explored different tools.

Image from http://www.tpck.org/

Initial Requirements

The  initial electronic portfolio must have the following requirements:

  1. A home page with (a) an appropriate title for your portfolio site and (b) a letter to the reader that provides and explanation of the overall goals of the portfolio. Here is an example from Helen Barrett’s site.
  2. A biography page with (a) an appropropriate photo of yourself, (b) a description of your background and (c) a description of your experience integrating technology with one or two examples.
  3. A matrix page (porfolio at a glance) of your artifacts, tools, and experiences. This page should visually explain how you have addressed the TPACK competencies over the course of our projects. Note, however, this page is a placeholder for now. As you complete projects in this course, you will add links to the projects. You will not have the links and “Xs” yet.
  4. A TPACK page with (a) a short summary of TPACK with a reference in APA 5th or 6th and (b) a description and link of how TPACK relates to your matrix.
  5. A references/acknowledgments page, which will only include your TPACK reference right now. This is also a placeholder for the future.
  6. You may add other graphics and images; however, they are not required at this time.

This is the initial structure for your portfolio. As you progress through the semester, you may want to organize your portfolio differently, and that’s okay. While I usually do not provide examples of projects (because I do not want you to strictly replicate them), I have created a sample site with the pieces described in the “Initial Requirements” in order for you to a model. I expect that your portfolio site will evolve over the semester, and that’s okay. So, do not feel that you have to organize, title, or layout your portfolio site exactly like mine.

Final Requirements

Your final electronic portfolio must have the following requirements:

  1. Each of the requirements listed in “Initial Requirements.”
  2. Entries for each of your projects in this course. Each entry should have the following:
    1. a title
    2. a link to your artifact
    3. a brief description of the artifact including the context for which this artifact was created
    4. a brief description of how this artifact reflects or relates to TPACK
    5. a description of “What does this artifact demonstrate about what I have learned?” (If you used a specific tool, such as a blog, wiki, Weebly, Edublog, PBWorks, etc., then be sure to include that and a description about the tool, why you chose it, how it turned out, what you learned using it.)
    6. a description about “What direction do I want to take in the future?” relating this to what you’ve learned from creating this artifact? and “What more do I need to learn related to this artifact?”.
    7. I recommend placing these as subpages to your Matrix page.
  3. Graphics, images, or screen captures where appropriate.
  4. Reference citations (in APA 5th or 6th style) and acknowledgements where appropriate, such as in reflections and project descriptions.
  5. A reference list in APA 5th or 6th style. References should be impeccably formatted.

Using Google Sites for the Electronic Portfolio


Image representing Google Sites as depicted in...

Image via CrunchBase

We will be using Google Sites to create your electronic portfolio. Google Sites is very easy to learn. You will probably still have to use the help/support section in order to accomplish your tasks. An important part of our course is experimenting with different tools and determining their utility, as well as learning about resources that are available to us when we begin to use a new tool.


You will need a Google account to create your portfolio. If you use gMail or you already have an iGoogle Account or Google Docs account, then you’re set. If not, then you’ll need to create a Google account. You can create a new Google Account at this link.

To help you get going with creating your electronic portfolio in Google Sites , here are a few videos that will help:

  1. How to set up your Google Sites Portfolio (Googlios)
  2. How to Set up your Googlio – Part 2
  3. How to Set up your Googlio – Part 3

In video #1 above, Alex Ambrose walks you through creating your Google Site portfolio. Here are a few tips to help you get started with this process:

  1. Create/sign in to your Google account.
  2. Ignore the part about signing in through your school. You can just sign in with your Google Account.
  3. Choose the “Blank template” as the template to use. (There is a classroom template, but do not choose this one.)
  4. Choose an appropriate professional name for your site.
  5. When putting in the web addres (URL), be sure to choose an appropriate address.
  6. Choose a fun theme you like. You can change this later, too.
  7. Under the “More options” arrow, be sure to complete the “Site description” information.
  8. Under the “More options” arrow, choose “Everyone in the world” as the “Share with” setting. This is so Dr. Grant and your classmates can see all of your cool stuff.