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Senior Portfolios Go Digital

On May 28th and 29th, Burrell seniors presented their portfolios to family, friends, and the community just as their predecessors have done for the past several years, with one very notable difference – there wasn’t a binder in the bunch.

The Class of 2013 was the first group of Burrell seniors to present a totally digital portfolio as their graduation requirement.  All future portfolios in the Burrell School District will be digital as well.

According to program sponsor Linda Wilkins, Burrell’s transition to paperless portfolios began four years when this year’s class constructed a PowerPoint “shell” in their freshmen Emerging Technologies class.  Throughout grades 9-11, they worked with mentor teachers to create a series of digital documents including career goal statements, electronic classroom projects , and artifacts and reflections in support of their career goals.  During their senior year, students completed their e-portfolios with a career research paper, details of a job shadowing experience or community service initiative, and other complementary elements.

“Students continually build and add to their portfolio to showcase their achievements and work that relates to their goals in respect to careers and postsecondary education,” explains Ms. Wilkins.  She says that many colleges today are requiring students to develop digital portfolios, and the e-portfolio program gives Burrell grads a clear advantage.  “Some of the content that our students develop for their Burrell portfolios can be modified and included in their college-specific portfolio.  Plus, our students will already be familiar with the process.”

Ms. Wilkins adds that the move toward e-portfolios has opened up new avenues for Burrell students to be creative with the content they share in their presentations.  She reports that many students are now using video components in their portfolios, and are including more photos and links to relevant web-based resources.  “The technologies really allow them to create a more dynamic and personalized portfolio,” says Ms. Wilkins.

The switch to digital portfolios also requires students to adopt a more formal and businesslike presentation strategy.  This year’s community presentations were delivered in classrooms using Promethean boards, and presentation periods were extended to a half-hour rather than 15 minutes to accommodate the change.

From the district’s perspective, the e-portfolio process is intended to help students understand the importance of postsecondary planning, become more goal-oriented, and develop and demonstrate advanced organizational and technical skills.  “The e-portfolio program challenges our graduates to reflect upon and encapsulate the high school experience in a way that is relevant to the needs and expectations of postsecondary education and the modern workplace,” says Superintendent Shannon Wagner.

The district is in the process of implementing several technology upgrades this summer that will enhance the digital technology process, including enhanced broadband capabilities.

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