ISTE Standards for Educators
Leader – Educators seek out opportunities for leadership to support student empowerment and success and improve teaching and learning.
2c. Model for colleagues the identification, exploration, evaluation, curation and adoption of new digital resources and tools for learning.
A digital portfolio is a collection of digital works, they can be essays, posters, images, videos, and artwork. It can be different aspects of one’s life and interest, for example, work experience, employment history and other professional or personal related experience. Centre for Teaching Excellence suggests that a good digital portfolio should be more than just a collection of products, a good ePortfolio is both about being a product (a digital collection of artifacts) and a process (of reflecting on those artifacts and what they represent) (2017). According to Basken (2008) in the article “ePortfolios Explained: Theory and Practice”, ePortfolios “are a way to generate learning as well as document learning”.
Digital portfolios can be used by students to put together portfolios for capstone or research projects. Teachers can use a digital portfolio to create a professional portfolio or gather items around areas they would like to explore. According to Kilbane and Milman, research studies focusing on portfolios in teacher education have centered on preservice and not inservice teachers (2017). How can inservice teachers use digital portfolios as a tool to assess student learning and use as self reflection to demonstrate and improve teaching practices?
Kilbane and Milmant conducted a study with the purpose to examine high school teachers’ perceived impact on their teaching and their students’ learning resulting from the creation of digital portfolios by both the teachers and their own students. The result of study demonstrated that digital portfolio creation resulted in increased teacher learning about technology, a reexamination of their pedagogy, better comprehension of their students’ learning, reflective processes, and assessment, and reciprocal learning between teachers and students (Kilbane and Milmant, 2017).
- Teachers in the study indicated that using digital portfolios required a greater amount of time, challenged them to rethink existing planning and teaching practices, made teaching and students’ products more interesting, engaged students more in their own learning, incorporated more 21st century skills, and fostered a teaching and learning environment.
- The development of digital portfolios promoted increased use and integration of technology in teaching.
- Through the creation of their digital portfolios, teachers and students engaged in a reciprocal process of learning, in which teachers and students alike “struggled together to learn and create”.
- Reflection, understanding (learning), and standards were all a part of the process for students to create their own digital portfolios.
- The development of digital portfolios changed not only how teachers planned, but also how they assessed or intended to assess their students, including how they viewed assessment.
There are many digital portfolio tools available for educators and students to choose from. I am investigating Bulb as a digital portfolio tool in this post to examine its usage in self reflection and demonstrate and improve teaching practices for educators.
According to Karlin, Bulb is a web based platform where students and educators can curate, create, share, and showcase works. The main goal of this platform is to provide a space where students and teachers can evaluate and share the meaningful works they have created.
Currently, bulb has three plans to choose from:
When users first sign into the bulb, the main dashboard will show up and that is where users can create a Page or a Collection of pages. The free plan only allows 10 portfolio pages while the paid plan offers unlimited pages. One of the features for a paid plan is to create groups. It is beneficial for teachers when we want to add in groups for different classes and add students to groups. In the paid plans, Bulb can work in conjunction with learning platforms, with teachers sending out assignment details through their district required learning platform, and students submitting their work through a Bulb Page. Another feature of bulk is users can keep the portfolio even if they stop paying for it. They’ll get downgraded to the free plan after one year if they don’t renew their plan, but they won’t lose any of their pages.
According to the CommonSense website review, teachers can create their own Bulb collections and pages to share content for a unit or lesson. Assemble a series of primary-source images or articles as pages in a collection, and encourage students to review the pages and respond to them in writing or discussion. Each student also might contribute a page to a teacher-created collection. Students can submit responses that other students can then review and comment on. Alternatively, teachers can ask students to create their own pages or collections. Students can also use their Bulb collection as a place to show off their work over the course of the year or assemble a series of articles or images on a related topic.
Teachers can use Bulk to track their professional development and demonstrate their growth. Here’s an English teacher’s example from bulb’s website, which includes pages with professional evaluation, lesson plans, and samples of work that the teacher has created.
However, the CommonSense website also points out that it lacks some of the assessment features that distinguish other portfolio tools available. Teachers and students can comment on each other’s pages, but there aren’t extensive features for tracking students’ submissions or offering ongoing feedback or formative assessment.
In addition to all the reviews about Bulb, I also reflected on a comment made by my peer, Joey Halbert, on how technology tools for education should have low barriers for educators and students entry. The low barriers should meet the following criteria: No extra account creation, works on any device, low bandwidth, versatile, and free. While Bulk offers teachers a free upgrade to Bulb+ which include unlimited portfolio pages and storage, I highly hope they can consider this upgrade to students as well.
EPortfolios Explained: Theory and Practice. (2019, March 04). Retrieved April 30, 2021, from https://uwaterloo.ca/centre-for-teaching-excellence/teaching-resources/teaching-tips/educational-technologies/all/eportfolios
Karlin, M., (2017, January 28). Bulb: Digital Portfolios for Students and Teachers. Retrieved April 30, 2021, from http://www.edtechroundup.org/reviews/bulb-digital-portfolios-for-students-and-teachers
Kilbane, C., Milman, N., (2017). Examining the Impact of the Creation of Digital Portfolios by High School Teachers and Their Students on Teaching and Learning. International Journal of ePorfolio. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1142755.pdf
Kievlan, P. (2021, April 06). Bulb review for teachers. Retrieved May 01, 2021, from https://www.commonsense.org/education/website/bulb