Unfortunately, portfolios increasingly became a pure formality. The cumbersome quarterly collection of paper portfolio entries in every subject for every student was coordinated by theGuidance Department. Teachers pointed out that the Portfolios were stored in “lonely file cabinetsin a dark room, but no one knows where they are!” The word “portfolio” came to connote“stressful noise, anxiety, imposed, static ritual without purpose, no dialogue, lack of communication,for accreditation officials, not for teachers/students/parents, black void, and even, joke”.
By 2009, unsurprisingly, the School Improvement Council recognized that the portfolio process wasin urgent need of change! While creating their 2010 School Improvement Plan, the Councilexpanded the definition of a portfolio entry and resolved to computerize this process to makeportfolios live beyond a student’s graduation. Technology offered the means to make portfoliosmore convenient, inclusive of various media, and transportable to colleges and employers. A local community education organizer who served on the School Improvement Council saw anopportunity to realize ePortfolios by collaborating with OneVille,
a community research projectfunded by the Ford Foundation and based at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Aresearch group from OneVille was invited to give a presentation about the potential of ePortfoliosthat was well received, and the collaborative OneVille ePortfolio research project at Somerville HighSchool began. Groundwork for change was laid through six months of joint planning by theePortfolio project team, the School Improvement Council, and he school principal. This wasfollowed by a yearlong critical participatory design research ePortfolio project involving 12Somerville High School teachers and 25 students purposely chosen to represent a cross section of the student body.
Using ePortfolios to realize educational change
The description of an ePortfolio that we developed together at Somerville High School blends anumber of popular definitions:
An ePortfolio tells the story of who you are, what you know you are good at, and how youbelieve “what you know” will help you succeed. Samples of work in an ePortfolio shouldconvince others that your story is valid, interesting and worthwhile.
This list comes from a Somerville High School teacher and student brainstorm in response to the word“portfolio.”
The Somerville High School ePortfolio project was carried out under OneVille (http://oneville.org/), acommunity-wide multi-layer research project whose goal was to explore how commonplace technology mightenable community cooperation in young people's success. The OneVille research project was based out of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, funded through a generous two-year grant from the FordFoundation, and led by Principal Investigator Dr. Mica Pollock.
Paulson, F.L. & Paulson, P. (1994) “Assessing Portfolios Using the Constructivist Paradigm” in Fogarty, R.(ed.) (1996) Student Portfolios. Palatine: IRI Skylight Training & Publishing
; Barrett, H. (2010) “
SocialNetworks and Interactive Portfolios: Blurring the Boundaries” TEDxASB(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckcSegrwjkA)