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Fostering collaboration and ownership of learning using MyPortfolio

Tags: Assessment | 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."

Facilitating shared learning, creating a supportive learning environment, and encouraging reflection are key to promoting student learning, The New Zealand Curriculum, p35 .

Teacher inquiry focus

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
  • reflect on their progress and achievements.

The teacher inquiry explored what was needed to increase student collaboration and reflection.

Why an e-portfolio approach?

e-Portfolios create an online learner-focused environment that 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 their purpose, and manage interactions
  • registration is free for NZ schools.

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 teachers 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.

The learning was designed to accentuate “the form of thinking that happens when groups think together online”, Collaborative Learning for the Digital Age, 2011

Learning outcomes for students

Mt Roskill students:

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

Year 13s talk about using MyPortfolio in English. They find accessing each other's work, sharing ideas, and receiving feedback beneficial for their own learning.

Teacher reflection

Inquiry outcomes

MyPortfolio provided an effective platform for student collaboration and reflection.

The purpose of this inquiry was to design learning opportunities, using MyPortfolio, that facilitated student:

  • participation in collaborative learning opportunities
    Setting up discussion forums focused on clearly identified learning outcomes was valued by students. Students contributed a range of responses, which demonstrated their engagement with the prescribed texts and evidence of their understanding. This was extended when students responded to or even challenged, what others had written. These discussions led to a noticeable increase in students explaining their point of view, a key skill for critical analysis.
  • reflection on their progress and achievements
    Some students made good use of the learning journal functions in MyPortfolio, including feedback and thinking to inform their next steps.

Next steps

  • Focus on co-constructing success criteria.
  • Provide further opportunities for students to give peer feedback/feedforward on essays and pieces of writing.
  • Utilise the MyPortfolio tools to support reflection and student discussion.

Online discussions

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 .