Feedback from our users prompted us to develop the ePortfolio Area module for Spike@School. An ePortfolio Area allows you to create private spaces for students to create ePortfolios in the website. The students can create as many ePortfolios as they like and arrange them in Containers. An ePortfolio is essentially a screen where many of our popular modules can be combined to communicate a message and keep track of learning. Currently students can add multiple instances of the following modules into their ePortfolios:
You can learn more about those modules by visiting the above links. They work the same as in the Construction Zone but everything is kept private inside the ePortfolio where (by default) only the student has access to them. We'll talk more about security in a moment.
Let's walkthrough making an ePortfolio Area and getting it ready for students to log in and create ePortfolio's. It's incredibly quick and simple. You can add a new ePortfolio Area by choosing ePortfolio Area from the Add a New: menu and clicking Add in the Construction Zone. You'll get this screen:
Once you've created your ePortfolio Area you can click on it to start adding Members:
As you can see, all we need to know about each member is their name (you don't have to use their full name) and their password. You set the password for them. This makes it easier to keep track of things and you can remind the student of their password later on if they forget it. You can also easily change it in the Construction Zone.
If this all sounds a bit laborious, we also allow you to upload a CSV (Comma Separated Value) file exported from a spreadsheet with the names and passwords of all the members that you want to add.
Right, so that's basically all we have to do as an administrator in the Construction Zone. The rest is up to the students, but let's pretend we're a student from now on and see what it's like to work on an ePortfolio.
By the way, ePortfolios aren't just for kids, there's no reason why staff couldn't have an area for themselves so that they can make ePortfolios too!
To access their ePortfolio Area a student needs to visit the website and click on the ePortfolio Area in the index bar. They'll then see this page:
As you can see, the students name is listed. To access their ePortfolio Area they just need to click on their name. They'll be presented with a login screen:
The student needs to type in the password that you gave them before. Now, if you're following along with this walkthrough on your copy of Spike@School, be sure to log out of the Construction Zone first, otherwise you won't be asked for a password as all Construction Zone users that have edit access to an ePortfolio Area have access to all of the members and their content without a password. This is useful for teachers as it allows them to easily review the student content and make changes where they see fit.
Once logged in, the student will be presented with this screen:
As you can see, the members area is empty at the moment. Essentially from this screen the student can create ePortfolios and Containers to store them in. Containers are neat because you can nest them. They work just like folders on your computer. You can also reorganise the Containers and ePortfolios by dragging and dropping them. To rename a Container or ePortfolio you just right click on it and click Rename. Simple! I'm going to add a few containers and an ePortfolio so you can see what it looks like:
The Containers and ePortfolios are laid out in a tree structure. This makes it easy for the student to organise their ePortfolios.
Right, now that we've created our ePortfolio called Addition, we can double click on it to view it properly and add stuff to it. This is what a new ePortfolio looks like:
This is our blank canvas. An ePortfolio in Spike@School basically consists of the following:
Further to these areas, you can also change the background colour of the page, and even add a background image. To do this, click Edit Settings up the top of the ePortfolio main page:
As you can see, I just changed the colour. When I save the settings the background will be pink instead of blue. There is an easy colour picker that pops up when you click the Background Colour box to help you choose the right colour.
There are a few more settings that the student can set. They can make this particular ePortfolio Public which means that it will be listed below their name on the ePortfolio Area homepage (where members usually log in). A visitor will be able to click on this ePortfolio and view it without a password - they won't be able to edit it though. Further to this, the student can opt to also/instead set a Password on this ePortfolio so that a password is required to get access to view this particular ePortfolio. Setting a Password but not making the ePortfolio Public means that the member will have to give the URL of the ePortfolio to people that he wants to share it with. Fortunately this is listed above the Edit Settings form.
Finally, they can also change the name of the ePortfolio from this screen. I'm going to set a password (but not tick the Public box) and we'll see how this will work for a guest later on. Let's save the settings and move on to editing the overview:
As you can see, it's very similar to editing a page. I've added some text and an image. This is what it looks like:
Already things are starting to look quite cool and customised. We've found that kids really enjoy customising the background colour and background image of their ePortfolios. The background image takes precedence over the background colour and will display over top of it.
From here on in, we'll just be adding instances of modules already discussed in other parts of this site. They'll appear as snippets on the ePortfolios home page. To avoid repetition you can just read about the mechanics of those modules on their respective pages.
I've added one of each type of module to the ePortfolio so you can see what the snippets look like on the page. These snippets can be reordered in their columns or dragged from one column to the other, giving the student plenty of flexibility to arrange the content as they see fit.
The owner of the ePortfolio can manage the content in exactly the same way as you can manage, say, the content of an Image Gallery in the Construction Zone.
Guests to the ePortfolio can see the details of a particular module (e.g. all the Categories and Images in an Image Gallery) by clicking the appropriate links on that modules snippet on the ePortfolio home page.
As you can see, the ePortfolio is a very flexible tool. The student has a lot of freedom to present their information the way they want, and yet we're still able to guide them somewhat so that they spend most of their effort on the important things like generating content, rather than struggling to lay out the page.
Finally let's see what it's like to log in as a guest. We'll exit the ePortfolio and then log out of this members account. We'll then paste the URL that we were 'given' by this student into our address bar and see what happens:
As you can see, we're now prompted for the guest access password. Let's type it in and see what the ePortfolio looks like from the perspective of a guest:
You can see that all of the editing functionality has been disabled. The guest can only view the ePortfolio and interact with its public features, for example: take quizzes, and leave comments.
That's it for ePortfolios! While it is quite a complex tool, we've tried to keep it as simple as possible so that it's easy for students and teachers to pick up and use.