As part of an piece I’ve been asked to write for Ed Leadership’s upcoming “Screenagers” issue, I’m looking for some input. Basically, the thesis of the piece is that we need to help our students use the Web as a way of showing not just what they know but what they can do with what they know. That we need to help them, in essence, create a “g-portfolio” so they are “Googled well” when future employers or potential collaborators et. al. go searching for their footprints online.
I’ve felt for a long time that my own kids will need to be consciously thinking about the online portfolio that they are building, but as they are getting older (11 and 13 next month) I’ve lately been trying to make that process and product more concrete in my own mind. I’m hoping this piece will help clarify a lot of my own thinking about the idea (something writing and blogging always has a tendency to do.)
Anyway, I thought I would reach out to see what others might think about a) the need forÂ this, b) our role in helping our students in the process, c) the general considerations for creating a “g-portfolio” and d) any good examples of students already being Googled well that I might point to. (I already have a few, but I would love more.)
Some framing questions that I’ve posed for myself that might get some conversation started:
- What types of literacies should be displayed in this Web portfolio?
- What role will this play in “reputation management” or the personal brand of the student?
- What are the challenges and complexities of the process?
- To what extent should educators have their own “g-portfolios”?
- What are the best tools, sites, etc. to create and organize these portfolios?
What do you think? Would love to hear your thoughts.
(Please make sure to leave your name and a real e-mail address if I can use your responses in my article.)
Susan Young says
Just a few thoughts about your g-portfolio.
My husband is the fire chief in our small city and after conducting a round of job interviews for a highly-sought-after opening on the department, he logged into the public chat space for Firehouse.com, clicked under Recruitment, only to find that young people were exchanging stories about both the process and their own personal interviews, one of which had just been completed that very afternoon. Rich was shocked at the untrue information being shared by those who had just had an interview….well, let’s just say that their interview was finished at that point.
Your idea of a g-portfolio is an interesting one (unfortunately/fortunately sounds a little like g-spot of other types of articles), but these random types of chat and comment offerings, like what I’m doing here, may also become public in ways that affect future opportunities.
My cousin’s daughter (my second cousin, I guess)(Masters Degree in History from the University of Toronto and teachers’ college at Queen’s University) recently finished Teachers’ College and I was her friend on FB. I saw a rather disturbing photograph of her posted and sent her a private mail suggesting that while she was trying to get a job, that she might limit this type of photo on her Facebook. Her solution was to defriend me with no response/as a response to my e-mail.
I defriended a former colleague who had a long-term occastional position at our school and was quite upset that she hadn’t been hired for a permanent position. I defriended her twice, refriending her when she begged me to forgive her FB breach of posting some unsavoury photos. But, when she posted a “joke” video about a young bulimic girl who was able to use binge drinking to help her achieve her weight loss goals, I was disgusted at her absolute not-withitness about how inappropriate this type of video is to appear on a teacher’s FB as a joke.
Thinking about all that we do online as a continuous job portfolio is something that educators could and should help students understand. But, as suggested in your recent book, Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts…it has to start with ourselves.
Will Richardson says
Hey Susan…Hearing more and more like this. Wonder if our kids will have the same standards for appropriateness. I hope that some things will always fail the test.
We actually started a project with our 8th graders two years ago that we hope will help them to begin to develop, and understand the impact of, a professional digital footprint, or â€œg-portfolio.â€ They are asked to pick a favorite past-time, topic, cause, etc. (or passion, if you will) and begin to become an expert on it. They are encouraged to follow news about their passion, be active participants in online discussions about it, and so on. Eventually they are to launch their own blog and join the conversation. Throughout the year-long (and further we hope) project we model safe but effective profile creation and maintenance; we encourage them to think about the digital footprint they are developing â€“ socially as well as academically/professionally; and of course we focus time and energy on their online communication skills.
The hard part about helping teenagers develop safe and positive online habits is that they are teenagers! They simply see things differently. What we might find inappropriate they often find funny. What we see as dangerous they see as innocuous. And so on. Not that we should stop trying, but teenagers will always be teenagers and thus will do dumb things which leave behind crumbs of idiocy. My goal is to make sure they have also created bright spots of genius and generosity to balance out the overall picture.
In terms of a space or tool to create and organize these portfolios I am not sure this is feasible or necessary (especially if we are talking about middle/high school). Apps, sites and tools come and go so often that I am not sure it is worth it to develop a formalized portfolio (unless you need to pull pieces together for a specific time and purpose â€“ college app, resume, etc.). I kind of see Google as the organizing piece with the caveat that we teach kids how to make sure they are found when Googled. Hmmmâ€¦may need to think about this some moreâ€¦.
In any case â€“ I look forward to reading the article!
Will Richardson says
Are any of these sites open to the public? The curriculum?
I do think that most of what we and our students “see differently” is innocuous and simply a part of cultural evolution. There is that scary part, however, and I’m not sure how we help kids navigate it without putting ourselves out there as well.
That “how to make sure they are found when Googled” part is a big part of this, especially with so many others with similar or same names coming online. Do use a tag from birth? ;0)
David Marcovitz says
As you think about this, you need to think about the two very different aspects of this: accentuating the positive and defending against the negative. When I first read this I thought you were mainly dealing with the first, but I think you are really talking more about the second. In the first, someone would be putting up lots of good stuff so, when googled, a future employee or college admissions officer or partner would find an amazing distributed online resume. In the second, we are merely trying to prevent those same googlers from finding lots of negative stuff about us that would make them not want to hire/admit/date us.
As I think about this, it seems to me that the first is likely to be fruitless for most kids except as a way to be aware of the second. I could be wrong, but I don’t think there is much that school-age children will be posting that will wowing potential employers (and if they post it just for the wow effect, it will lose authenticity and defeat its own purpose), but there is plenty they could post that would turn people off.
I’m thinking about the recent stories about Tufts University accepting videos as part of the admissions process (http://thechoice.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/22/twist/?scp=1-b&sq=tufts+video&st=nyt) While some of them seemed interesting and creative, most of them seemed inauthentic and forced to me.
Will Richardson says
Thanks David. I was focusing on the first, and I’ll respectfully disagree. If we create opportunities for our students to self-direct, show initiative and entrepreneurship, change the world, etc., I think they could be creating artifacts even in high school that could add to their portfolio. And even if at the end of the day, a Google search finds bigger and better things created later in life, at least we could have a big role to play in helping them understand the process by giving them those opportunities before they graduate.
Thanks for chiming in.
Tony Baldasaro says
The need for a “G-portolio”(maybe change the name to “goofolio”?) is the very reason why we changed our AUP here in Exeter. We created our new RUP under the following assumption: Everyone has a digital footprint. We realized that our old AUP, with strict restrictions on what our students could publish online, was not allowing them to be proactive in creating their digital footprint, or worse forcing them to create it on their own without our guidance. As global expectations are rising relative to an individual’s presence on the web, schools need to step up and provide more guidance for their students on how to create a g-portfolio that is positive, shows growth, and displays the ability of the person to take information from a variety of sources, vet it, remix it, and republish some form of it with their own insights. We also realized that our kids could no longer be protected by anonymity (thanks @karlfisch) anymore. In order to have them publish, defend, revise, defend, revise… and participate in global conversations, they needed to use their names (or a reasonable handle).
Carolyn Foote says
A few things of interest for question D: regarding students and colleges and their online profiles:
I also personally think we are doing students a big favor in preparing them for a more professional life/presence online by offering them opportunities to create and display quality academic work online.
No matter what they end up doing, whether college or the workforce or dating-people are bound to “google” them, and it’s important for them to have a diverse “presence” online in those cases (not just personal FB accounts).
Will Richardson says
The “huge business” of social media monitoring is the business that schools should be in, no? We should be trying to put those guys out of business, in fact, right?
Barbara Z. Johnson says
I think it will be critical for students to learn to aggregate and organize their publicly viewable artifacts to manage their “brand”. In some cases, they will need to tell a story of growing up and how they have matured beyond their Facebook days.
We might also work with them in how to manage their digital identities – public vs. private. Yes many are now naive and will not listen to us. But I suspect that they will become more conservative as they grow older and become managers themselves – which has been a trend dating back centuries, if not millenia.
The literacy of being able to negotiate removal of inaccurate or nonrepresentational information about us is very important. We all need to understand and be able to fix things like credit scores, explain cases of mistaken identity (I have a common name) convincingly, and rebuild our own brands.
Currently, I don’t know of good software tools to help with the organization aspect. I use my blog to TRY to establish a hub for all of the online activities and identity that I have. But we are sorely in need of something like the semantic web to help us with the task.
Will Richardson says
They will listen to us if we get them early enough. Reputation management or digital identity etc. is something we need to start doing in 2nd grade, not high school.
Thanks for the thoughts.
Tony Baldasaro says
I love the reference to “maturing past their Facebook days.”
George Couros says
I have been thinking about this lots lately as well. As a principal, I started my own personal portfolio this year as I had seen the amazing work done by other educators on Twitter. The thought behind this was that I would build it as an example to my staff and students, and I could also get a handle on it. It has been interesting to see the development that has happened with myself and I have used it as a way to reflect. This actually all started after our dinner with you and my brother.
I have also been working on building a platform for students at a K-6 level to start building their own portfolios. This has been something that many are reluctant about so we are starting baby steps where it will not even show up in Google as of now and we want to move parents and students along together. We will have a controlled environment at first and then as there is more education, we can open it up with one click of a button. I am glad you are thinking about this stuff as well since it has been on my mind a lot lately.
Here is how we are starting for next year:
And here is my own portfolio that I have started to create as an example for staff:
Hopefully we can move students along quickly on this!
I have worked with a formal product sold to some schools. This is used to collect selected pieces of student work to organize according to goals and objectives set by school staff, working with teachers and students. Like many things, the system is not perfect and it is not free. However, the creator of the system has many good ideas about how the PROCESS of developing a digital portfolio must relate to larger issues (personal and institutional goals, varied purposes, connections to personal and institutional networks, portability beyond schooling and more). The creator of the system goes beyond simply creating a collection of materials. The creator, David Niguidula, is worth reading for his underlying ideas, regardless of the collection method developed. Not wanting to “plug” his system, I leave it to readers to check him out on the web – if desired.
Michelle Sumner says
So many profound statements have already been said in regards to the necessity to teach ethical digital citzenship.However, I would like to adress your questions.I work with high school students and have, for several years, utilized portfolios with my students. My district has not provided access and tools necessary for me to incorporate e-portfolios, or as youi coined it “g-portfolios.” However, next year I am making a move to a new district which has embraced the necessity for a technology integrated classroom and teaching digital literacy and citizenship. Over the past several months I have been contemplating and developing my vision of the e-portfolios I will be dooing next year with my new classroom. Here is what I have so far:
1) “What type of literacies should be displayed in this web portfolio?”
My offline portfolios have always included 5 areas of focus: 1) essential knowledge–includes grades, transcripts, academic goals as well as reflections each quarter. 2) communication (my students are deaf so there tends to be a variety of ways this happens, but could be great for digital footprints!) 3) thinking skills–multiple intelligences, reflections on assignments and assessments 4) emotional intelligence–problem solving, reflection on inappropriate behavior (this would go great with the concept of looking back at inappropriate digital footprints left and 5) life planning–we look at work experience, develop “resumes” and work ethic as well as specific goals to acheive success.
My intnetion is to keep my e-portfolios closely related to my current process. Students maintain portfolios throughout their high school years and by the time they leave high school its amazing to see the growth.
2) “What are the best places to maintain the portfolios?”
I have already begun the building of a class blog on edublogs. From here, students will see my processes and the building of my portfolio through my lessons and teaching etc…and they will then construct their own blog which will begin to look like a portfolio as they post assignments, respond to each others blogs, reflect on their own projects and begin leaving their digital footprints.
I’ll keep you posted on the process next year!
Will Richardson says
Thanks, Michelle. I think one of the hardest parts of the G-portfolio is thinking of the search result as the aggregator of all of the content. I’m wondering with where “selection” comes in the process (as well as reflection.) That’s why I was only half kidding above when I suggested a tag at birth. I could attach that tag to what I considered to be the “best” of my work.
Or maybe, come to think of it, it’s a delicious tag. Or…
Fun to try to think of how it might work. But the underpinning to all of it is the conscious effort to transparently share your best work.
Bill Farren says
Couldn’t agree more with the need for better portfolio options while helping students manage their online persona.
I recommend checking out Mahara.org if you haven’t already. It’s a portfolio solution that’s free (open source!), highly customizable, allows for view access control, and can run on your own servers, just like a moodle installation. I threw up an instance of it on a server which can be seen here, if you’d like: http://folios.plearn.net/
And here’s an example of my own “showing what I can do with what I know”, using a Mahara view: http://bit.ly/aJ5iZE (You can create different views for different purposes, and each view allows for commenting at bottom.) (Yes, I’m looking for a job!)
Kristen Swanson says
We really need to teach our students about branding as they create and amass high quality work. Students need to build their personal brand so that their work is easily recognizable by employers. Helping students to accomplish this task early is critical. Once they realize that everything they post relates to their own brand, they may think twice before engaging in reckless behavior online.
Leslie Raffelson says
As I read through this post and the articles, I wrote up a little note for a lesson that I might try to expand up on this year in one of my classes. It might be interesting to do with kids. It is unpolished and just my rambling thoughts, but thought someone might find it interesting.
Branding is a new term.
I wonder what a lesson on building your own brand would be like. Study what a brand is and the reasons/history behind it, then develop what their own brand is(maybe a logo as well (art!)) and go on to establish what that brand means. Example: my brand is my copyright logo that I use with specific fonts and colors. More important is that it represents my work. I only use it on my photos, but I should be tagging ALL my online work with that brand and making it familiar and making things mine. Should students use this ‘brand’ to tag their work? I use a particular picture of me in all my social networking sites (twitter, nings, etc) and I keep them all the same. It is a choice to brand me with this picture so that people will become familiar with my face through a variety of media. Do we ask students to do that? Should we? How can we help students develop their own BRAND.
Christina Nakazaki says
I love the idea of a gfolio as it teaches our students how to be responsible digital citizens. So many of our schools ask students to power down and lock up any digital tools. But why? Businesses don’t ask their employees to turn off their cell phones or resist social networking. These tools are not going away any time soon, so why not incorporate them into the classroom. Let’s teach our students how to use the current technology so that they can transfer those skills to learn new technologies as they emerge. The idea of creating a gfolio would teach a number of applicable life lessons. Isn’t that what teachers are supposed to do?
Personally, I would love to teach my students how to be critical consumers of technology by detecting fake websites, responsible users of technology by setting up a gfolio and allow them to connect and share their resources with one another. Yet for my district I would have to pigeon hole this assignment into either expository or persuasive writing. I would love to change this and add a media literacy unit and teach students to write for a global audience. I also find Leslie Raffelson’s idea intriguing and would like to come up with a project where students develop their own brand and combine that with the gfolio.
I would love to hear what you come up with,
* What types of literacies should be displayed in this Web portfolio?
Embedded, student-created content
* What role will this play in â€œreputation managementâ€ or the personal brand of the student?
I think it should be the “go-to” when networking. Replace Facebook.
* What are the challenges and complexities of the process?
Students are not engaged with identity building in the same way educators are. Their identities arise naturally through social media and networked gaming. So, how do we inspire self-branding and self-promotion–what motivates?
* To what extent should educators have their own â€œg-portfoliosâ€?
Well, I have one to document who I am, what I do–it’s my “go-to” site if you were to Google me. It usually comes up after my personal blog (which is pretty friendly, I always bear in mind I am a teacher) and Flickr.
* What are the best tools, sites, etc. to create and organize these portfolios?
I use Wikispaces but am experimenting with Google sites for next year.
Emily Vickery says
1. Google Sites – an excellent tool for student portfolios. (Also have students create their own Google profile.)
2. Portfolio houses artifacts and also includes links to YouTube channel, uStream channel, other PLN tools, e.g. wikis, blogs, Diigo, Twitter, FB, etc.
The portfolio will grow (and be pruned) overtime.
1. Wondering how the portfolio can be updated with QR codes, GPS, and apps reflecting a person’s experience/mobile learning.
2. A timeline generated of digital/online interactions/behaviors, which shows how a person has changed (or not) over time.
Things have changed so quickly in the past ten years, I truly wonder if we can identify what the internet will look like in ten more. It is true that right now a positive online portfolio is important, and growing more important daily. What I don’t know is what will search look like in the future and what will those searches reveal.
I just listened to a Leo Laporte podcast (can’t remember which one) and the panel was discussing how they thought social vetting of information will grow to be more important than a Google search. If this is true, it may change how our online presence is evaluated. What if our online conversations or our social circles are how we are evaluated in the future?
I think the most important aspect of a “G-Portfolioâ€ is to be authentic (and remember that part of education is simply helping students find themselves), so they may not be able to identify what is truly authentic for themselves or what is one day authentic, may tomorrow be unauthentic because such is the journey of that stage of one’s life; being a student.
Remember that there are a variety of forces at work on shaping such a portfolio (parents, teachers, peers) and that the work should not be a goal in and of itself because then it will be one more thing to do (and therefore one more thing not to do). Some of the shaping of the portfolio by others will be overt and some covert and it is the self-awareness of this influence which will dictate how much or how little the portfolio will be a “true” representation of the student.
Kenton Larsen says
I’m a college instructor; I teach communication students, and it seems that employers in the advertising and PR industries (which are or should be early adopters) want evidence of:
1. Knowing how to use social media – not just for oneself, but for a client (big distinction). LinkedIn and Twitter are at the top of the heap, but it doesn’t hurt to have a Facebook or Foursquare presence either.
2. A “professional” blog or website – which is regularly updated and shows an understanding of the medium; again: on behalf of oneself and a client.
3. An online AND old-school portfolio of design, media production, and writing work – it doesn’t matter where it’s posted, but they want a link that takes them right there with a minimum of “looking around.” The old-school “work in a leather-bound case” still has cache, as a chance for a student to show a potential employer what he or she can do, face to face.
4. Demonstrated use of mobile technology – mostly iPod Touch, iPhone, iPad and Apple-related stuff; students don’t need to show “programming” ability, but an understanding of app culture and its ever-expanding role in the world.
Lastly, ever potential employer in these industries wants young people – grads or not – to know how this stuff works, so they can educate everyone else, who may have lots more experience in traditional areas, but not online.
Nichole Hassell says
I am a Secondary Education/English student from the University of South Alabama in Mobile, Alabama. I am currently working my way into tech literacy in Dr. John Strange’s EDM 310 class.
I’m beginning to understand the creativity of blogs. I think that blogs are an important part of a student’s web portfolio and a good tool to improve writing skills.
On top of a blog, a personal learning network is a great thing to develop. I’ve just started mine by using twitter, symbaloo, and delicious.
I think teachers should definitely use all of these tools as well. I’ve never had a teacher like Dr. Strange, who uses Skype, has multiple blogs, and is available 24/7 by twitter and e-mail. It really helps when a teacher is open minded and willing to learn from and with their students. By setting an example to students, they can form their own ideas, self-learn, and discover new things themselves to build up their online persona.
Chris Miraglia says
The concept of a web portfolio is certainly time warranted. As our students increasingly move from print to digital media it only makes sense that they utilize the tools they are most comfortable with. However, who decides what is included in the portfolio. I as a middle school teacher would like the students to prove they understand the issue of reliability of web sources. As Robin mentioned earlier, I think being an expert on a certain issue lends a hand in developing the critical thinking and evaluation skills needed for this literacy. I would like to see students create blogs, wikis, and other Web 2.0 media that incorporates the above mentioned skills. I firmly believe that once they are able to prove they can complete these tasks the moniker of digitally literate can be assigned.
Many schools require a senior project. A blog sharing their personal journey as they research, organize, implement and share their project would be a great portfolio opportunity.