Have Digital Portfolios Come of Age?

It’s one of the longest-running promises of edtech: Have students provide proof of work online. Get better assessment results. Provide students agency and enable them to express themselves creatively. Take teaching and learning to the next level.

For the most part, we’re still waiting. But not Gary Heidt, who leads the Innovation Lab at Perkiomen Valley HS in Pennsylvania and is a champion of a tool called Unrulr. In this conversation, we discuss the implementation and impact of Unrulr in his classroom, where he tries to focus on creating a more human and reflective learning experience. Joining us was Aaron Schorn, Head of Growth and Community at Unrulr to detail how students can document their learning moments, create exit ticket reflections, engage in discussion boards, and build larger learning journeys.

Here’s a link to a blog post that dives deep into Gary’s experiences when it comes to documentation and Unrulr. And here’s a link to the portfolio that Uses Unrulr public links throughout to tell the story of one student’s project journey.

Key highlights include:

  1. Purpose-Driven Learning: Unrulr supports purpose-driven learning by enabling students to work on projects that are not only self-driven but also impactful on a community level.
  2. Agile Project Management Approach: The tool facilitates a flexible and agile approach to project management, incorporating concepts like Agile and scrums to adapt to different timelines and individual schedules.
  3. Building a Learning Community: Gary creates a sense of community by allowing students to publish and share their work not only with teachers but also with peers, fostering collaboration, support, and a deeper understanding of the learning process.
  4. Digital Portfolio Differentiation: According to Gary, Unrulr stands out as a process portfolio that goes beyond showcasing final products. It emphasizes the documentation of the learning process itself, allowing students to create dynamic portfolios that evolve over time.
  5. Reflection and Feedback: The tool encourages reflection, both from students and teachers, providing a space for individuals to assess their progress, share insights, and receive feedback. This reflective approach is seen as essential for meaningful learning.
  6. Equity of Access: Gary says Unrulr ensures equity of access by offering a web browser version in addition to a mobile version, accommodating various devices and school policies regarding technology use.
  7. Slow Approach to Learning: Gary mentions a “slow approach” to education, emphasizing the importance of making room for reflection and providing feedback. This approach contrasts with a rushed curriculum, aiming for a deeper understanding of content.
Kevin Hogan
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