What is a portfolio?
“Put simply, a portfolio is a physical or virtual showcase of work.” (Taylor 2010, p. 9)
A portfolio is an organised or structured collection of work. It contains materials that demonstrate the expansion of knowledge and skills over the time of the project work. It displays tangible evidence of the growth and development during the ongoing work. It gives insights into both the process and the products.
Portfolios are personalised documentations of one’s learning journey during the project work. They contain organised documentary materials that demonstrate specific knowledge, skills and accomplishments achieved over time. They are a medium for reflection and are intended to make the learning process transparent and learning visible, crystallise insights and anticipate future direction.
The materials in this Danube Portfolio were selected autonomously by the portfolio coordinators of the four clusters and are presented in digital format. In our case they are stored on a Web server. This form allows easy access and ensures practical usage. This Danube Portfolio can be used to build a community of learners. Its knowledge could also be used in new ways. It fosters reflection, which is the defining characteristic of portfolios. “None is complete without it.” (Jones &Shelton, 2011)
Challenges associated with portfolios
“Nothing great is ever achieved without much enduring [Catherine of Sienna] holds true with regard to…portfolios.” (Kilbane 2005, p. 8)
The creation of a digital portfolio requires some professional support (e.g. with respect to hardware and software use, integration of multimedia materials, good graphic design). The creation of such a portfolio is time consuming and requires a lot of energy on the part of its builders.
The portfolio development
In December 2012, two teachers from each participating school were given a short introduction into the portfolio process in Odessa, Ukraine by the author (1 ppt). For each cluster, one portfolio coordinator was selected.
The first stage was planning the portfolio. We had to identify the purpose and the intended audience. In our case, the main purpose of the portfolio was dissemination. The results and experiences of this project were meaningful only if they were implemented in practice and led to functional changes. The main audiences of the portfolio will be teachers in the Danube region who would like to learn from the experiences of the participants during our project work. The results of the projects should not only have a local impact; they should also be disseminated nationally and internationally.
In the second stage we considered the contents of the portfolio. Each cluster had to start collecting evidence. The portfolio builders made lists of possible artefacts and documents that would be included. The emphasis at the beginning was on quantity (e.g. agendas from meetings, photos, project descriptions, feedback, notes, short reflective statements, flyers, videos, tubes and so on). We started with the writing of reflective statements. Thereby we considered the significance of the materials and furthermore tried to encourage others to better understand why these materials were included.
In the third stage we designed the portfolio. Two portfolio builders from each cluster met in November 2013 in Ljubljana. (2 ppx) They organised the selected materials and assembled them into digital pieces. In addition, a table of contents was created and the different parts were linked together logically. Each cluster received feedback from the participants (i.e. formative evaluation) and from KulturKontakt Austria in Vienna.
The selection of the software tools for the navigation scheme, visual design and font format for the portfolio was the next step. This challenging work continued until the end of April 2014.
The last step will be the presentation of the created digital portfolios in an online format that allows easy access for the target audience and interested public.
Taylor, F. (2010). How to create a portfolio & get hired. A guide for graphic designers and Illustrators. London: Laurence King Publishing.
Kilbane, C.R.; Milman, N.B. (2005). The digital teaching portfolio workbook. Understanding the digital teaching portfolio process. Boston: Allyn Bacon.
Kilbane, C.R.; Milman, N.B. (2003). The digital teaching portfolio handbook. A how-to guide to teachers. Boston: Pearson.
Jones, M. and Shelton, M. (2011). Developing your portfolio. Enhancing your learning and showing your stuff. New York: Routledge.