Major Digital Project Summary

Who had the wise idea to end my master’s program with two courses? While I had moments of feeling overwhelmed and sometimes doubted my ability to balance the demands of my two courses, I can finally say that I am almost finished my master’s program.

With the busyness of having two classes, a young family, and the various demands of being an administrator during the pandemic, I really appreciated the ability to self-direct my own learning for this major digital project. When I had a meeting with Alec at the start of the course, I emphasized that my goal was to learn more about something that would be practical and useful in my current role. Looking back over the last three months and my journey to learn more about e-portfolios, I am pleased with my learnings and am excited about future possibilities.

Having recently moved into an administration role at the Estevan Comprehensive School, I knew that I would be encouraged by our superintendent and division staff to improve our attendance at Student-Led Conferences and to truly align our conference practices with the practices expected by our division. Thus, I knew that our practices would have to change if we wanted to move away from traditional parent teacher interview model and fully embrace a Student-Led Conference.

While my initial intentions were to have a series of teachers pilot different e-portfolio tools, I quickly realized that if I was going to make changes to our interview approach for the fall of 2021, we needed to adopt a portfolio tool that was familiar to students, teachers, and families. Consequently, I had to narrow my focus and decided to explore two platforms, Edsby and myBlueprint. While I am somewhat discouraged for not exploring Seesaw, a popular digital portfolio tool, I did learn my school division would be moving away from supporting this popular platform because of budget restrictions and the increasing costs associated with purchasing licenses.

During the start of October, I decided to jump in and explore Edsby portfolios and was really encouraged by its user-friendly layout and functionality. I noted the many positives to using Edsby portfolios and how Edsby would support our SLCs. Some of the positives include the portfolio stays with a student from year-to-year and will grow and develop as more information is added.  I was proud of my Edsby Portfolio Tour video and feel that this will be something that I can use in the years to come.

Next, I dug into myBlueprint and the Class Pass app. While myBlueprint has been around for a few years and something that we have used to support education and career planning, I was unaware of its portfolio features and the class pass app. I thought the overview video of the Class Pass App was informative. I was also really impressed with how myBlueprint has created an Open Education Resource (OER) bank of lesson plans. If you have not checked out these resources, I would encourage you to do so! These lessons align with different provincial curriculums, and I was impressed with the range of lessons and resources available to SK teachers.

https://www.shutterstock.com/search/plan

After exploring these two portfolio tools in detail, I decided to move forward with implementing Edsby portfolios in our school. We made this decision because all students and families are expected to have Edsby accounts, and we felt that changing or introducing a new program like myBlueprint would cause more confusion.  Check out the link to my blog post which outlines my implementation plan.

With the decision to move forward with Edsby, I developed an implementation plan to help prepare our students and staff for the upcoming Student Led conferences. I even took a step out of comfort zone and ran a drop-in session for teachers to join with their students. With over 30 teachers and their students joining the call, it was safe to say that it was the largest class I have every taught.

Once students and teachers were more familiar with Edsby portfolios and the expectations for gathering evidence of learning for their e-portfolios, it was exciting to witness the portfolio development.

Here is an example that showcases the portfolio development of one of our students.

Students were selecting a range of meaningful artifacts and we received lots of positive feedback about how the portfolios led to more meaningful conversations about student learning.

I was also proud of the collaborative efforts of a small group of teachers that created a simple handout to support teachers with running a conference that was led by their students.

The use of digital portfolios has sparked important conversations about assessment practices in my school and I am excited about the possibility of more teachers using portfolios to capture and communicate student learning. We have had several teachers, especially our Practical and Applied Arts teachers explain that they see portfolios as a valuable tool to improve communication with families about student learning. I sense that teachers were able to enter into meaningful conversations with students about the type of artifacts that were being selected and how students can showcase or communicate their learning. Hopefully with the continued use of portfolios, teachers, students, and families will see the portfolio as a powerful communication tool that will support their learning and generate authentic conversations about student learning.   

I would like to end my digital project by encouraging my colleagues to watch Karen Fadum’s Ted Talk- “An Invitation for Change.” This project has brought about positive change in our building and I look forward to the exciting possibilities and where digital portfolios will take our students and staff in the future.

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4 thoughts on “Major Digital Project Summary

  1. James, I loved your Elmo clip at the beginning of your blog post. I too feel that way often when working with EDSBY and trying to make it meaningful and engaging for the students. To be honest, it hasn’t been all that great of an experience yet for me. Still working at it, and still learning. Also, I have to get used to the fact that it’s not the old program and it never will be. But that’s okay. I am glad that you realized that teacher’s workload was intensifying rapidly and changed your approach. Great leadership! 🙂

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  2. Congrats on finishing your program and kudos to you for being able to balance so much at once! That takes some skill! I like how you took your time to make your project something that will help you but also help others as well. Edsby is new to me and I am still getting used to it so having people to ask for help makes my job much easier, so I know how many teachers appreciate this! Congrats again!

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  3. Congrats on finishing your masters! That is so exciting for you and probably your family as well. I can only imagine how difficult the semester was. You definitely deserve a celebration! As for digital portfolios, your post was very interesting to me. We have been doing student-led conferences for about four year now and the first two year we did it I really enjoyed it. I had my students share their digital portfolio on seesaw with their parents in the classroom and they discussed their goals, artifacts and areas of growth. It really took a lot off of my shoulders for having to speak the entire time. However the last two years for conferences have been through Microsoft teams for my school division. I’ve found that just logging into the meeting can be challenging enough for some parents and having the students include Seesaw on their device from home made it that much more challenging. So this year everything they shared with their parents was on paper so there was less room for technical difficulties. I do hope that we can go back to in person conferences because I feel the disconnect is still very prevalent between are school and the community. We will soon be switching to Edsby as well I believe so it was nice to see some screen shots of what the programs looks like! Thank-you for your in depth explanation of these tools since they are extremely relevant to most educators right now.

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  4. James!! Congratulations on almost completing your Masters!! That is such an accomplishment with so many various things that you are involved. I really liked that you utilized this project as a way to further your development in a practical sense and benefit your staff. I really value your vision here, and how you want to help support your staff with your new learning and reflection among this process.

    Thanks for your comments during the semester, and I do wish that we could take a few more classes together in the future, but perhaps next time Central Collegiate comes to Estevan for football we could catch up and shoot the breeze! Have a great last couple of weeks until Christmas!

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