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Fostering collaboration and ownership of learning using MyPortfolio

Tags: Assessment | Effective pedagogy | English | e-Portfolios | Secondary | Upper secondary |

Students from Mount Roskill Grammar School engaged in shared learning with their peers and subject teachers for NCEA Level 3 English using MyPortfolio.

"In our school, e-learning is part of effective cycles of reflection and assessment, involving the wider community. "
eLPF 2014

Teaching inquiry

Teachers at Mt Roskill Grammar School wanted to create and facilitate opportunities for students to collaborate in different contexts to support their achievement in NCEA Level 3 English  – which required "the use of discourse that demonstrates the ability to critically analyse and support ideas and points of view."

The focus of the teacher inquiry was to identify whether student engagement and achievement could be enhanced through the integration of an online learning environment where students could:

  • participate in collaborative learning opportunities, and
  • reflect on their progress and achievements.

The teacher inquiry explored what was needed to increase the probability of those interactions occurring through identifying opportunities to facilitate shared learning, The New Zealand Curriculum, p34 .

Why an e-portfolio approach?

e-Portfolios create an online learner-focused environment which enables:

  • students to develop a portfolio of their learning while reflecting on progress
  • learning outside of class, allowing learners the flexibility to access, review, and revisit their learning
  • students to gain the satisfaction of seeing their work in print and available to a wider audience
  • creation, storage, and sharing of exemplars, templates, and support material, including specified criteria for guiding feedback.

Why MyPortfolio?

MyPortfolio was selected as an online learning environment because it:

  • enables student ownership of learning including managing their own space in a safe, education focused environment
  • allows students to share their work with other members of the class, collaborate, and give peer feedback
  • allows students to build a learning journal in response to feedback and directions for next steps in learning
  • includes a variety of options for sharing, enabling students to target their audience to suit purpose, and manage interactions.

MyPortfolio at Mount Roskill

Teachers and students at Mount Roskill Grammar School utilised a range of functions and tools to support learning activities and teacher modelling. These included teacher and/or students:

  • co-constructing success criteria
  • using forums to discuss the pre-reading material, characters, and themes
  • sharing and discussing individual research on singular aspects of the text
  • identifying and organising resources including web links, video clips, and other media to enhance and support their learning
  • managing their learning according to their own strengths and needs
  • sharing digital records from face-to-face discussions to group pages in MyPortfolio for reference and revisiting
  • posting and sharing essays, and receiving feedback from teachers and peers (MyPortfolio includes a "Place Feedback" function on pages)
  • monitoring and responding to comments and questions, reviewing progress ,and revisiting areas to support exam revision
  • using feedback and recommendations to support reflection in learning journals.

Educational outcomes

MyPortfolio provided an effective platform for supporting both learning and teaching. The learning was designed to accentuate “the form of thinking that happens when groups think together online”, Collaborative Learning for the Digital Age, 2011 . The use of online tools to increase collaboration, and learning together, has been recognised and appreciated by all participants.

The students valued their ownership of the learning process, including the opportunity to build a portfolio of essays within a relevant learning context. They appreciated the ability to access and revisit their writing, feedback, and reflections, especially in the lead up to exams.

View the video – Year 13s talk about MyPortfolio

The e-portfolio approach, when integrated into a current programme of learning, can provide valued outcomes for students especially in relation to achievement and ownership of learning. This is a key consideration in relation to teaching as inquiry and “what is important and worth spending time on” The New Zealand Curriculum, p35 . Opportunities for students to benefit from teacher modelling and assistance from their peers are an important part of the learning process.

Teacher Reflection

The purpose of using an e-portfolio approach was to identify and design learning that facilitated opportunities for collaboration. Forums that were focused on clearly identified learning outcomes to guide discussion resulted in valued outcomes.

While the students contributed a range of responses they all demonstrated engagement with the text and evidence of thinking. This was extended when students responded to, or even challenged, what others had written. This often resulted in a noticeable increase in students justifying their position, a key skill for critical analysis.

Some of the students also made good use of the learning journal functions in MyPortfolio, including feedback and thinking to inform their next steps.

Implications for future teaching include providing opportunities for further student feedback in response to essays and writing from peers. Consequently, the teaching as inquiry cycle will continue to focus on co-constructing success criteria with students and utilising the online tools to support teacher actions that promote student learning.

Online discussions

Join the Virtual Learning Network (VLN)  and participate in these discussions.

Tools for e-portfolios
e-Portfolios in the classroom  webinar (14 June, 2012). Teachers from Russell St School discuss: 
 - the pedagogy and purpose for e-portfolios
 - how they are encouraging students to reflect on their work more deeply and the benefits to students' learning
 - how they setup e-portfolios – software, documentation, staff expectations, and professional development. View the PowerPoint and download PDFs used with their e-portfolios.

Discuss, share, and celebrate the use of e-portfolios in teaching and learning.

Software types

Find out more about the software types used in this snapshot.