School reports – is there a better way?

I hate writing reports. There, I said it. I’m so grateful that I haven’t had to write any this year thanks to being on study leave. I don’t imagine I’ll be so lucky next year, although there is a slim chance due to the nature of my school that I won’t have any.

As a parent of primary (and intermediate) aged children, one of the things I don’t like about reports at the moment is the focus on literacy and numeracy (mostly due to National Standards). I feel like that’s all I really know about my children or sometimes perhaps that’s all they do at school. I know for a fact that this is not the case, but it doesn’t really come across in the reports. Sometimes ‘everything else’ gets lumped into a heading like, ‘topic studies’ which doesn’t tell me as a parent very much.

I suggested to a primary teacher on twitter the other day that maybe eportfolios could take the place of writing reports. He wasn’t sure if the governments requirements on reporting of National Standards would work with an eportfolio. Perhaps this is an issue – I’m not sure.

Having only used eportfolios a little in my post-grad study, I don’t know a huge amount about them, but I think if used well they could take the place of reporting. If I could be sent links to different parts of my child’s eportfolio throughout the year which may contain some of the work they’ve been doing – not just final, finished products, but showing the processes that have been going on – I think I would feel well-informed and know what my children are learning, and how they are progressing. Perhaps there could be a form or page where National Standards reporting could be done. The children themselves could develop their eportfolios with guidance from the teacher. The teacher can then give written feedback online and the parents could also add to it.

What this would mean to me is that reporting is on-going throughout the year. I could be a definite part of the learning experiences of my children at school, making the home-school-student partnership work really well.

What do you think? Are eportfolios a possible solution to reducing the pressure of report-writing season for teachers? Could they help make better connections with home?

Are you already doing this or something similar in your school? I would love to hear about it if you are?

Do you have any other alternatives to report writing? Or do you think it should stay as it is?

ePortfolio’s

On Sunday I had the opportunity to go to a session on ePortfolio’s run by Desire 2 Learn. It was a very useful, informative session and was not a “promoting our product” time at all. In face their product was not mentioned unless specific questions were asked. Well done D2L!

So here are a few notes from the session:

 

What is it?

Portfolio – collection of evidence gathered together –> shows a person’s learning journey over time (Butler, 2006).

ePortfolio – can have:

– supporting files
– evaluations, reflections and recommendations
– evidence of educational competencies
– writing samples (inlcuding drafts)
– projects
– evidence of creativity and performance
– evidence of extracurricular activities including leadership examples.

Why use an ePortfolio?

There are many advantages to an ePortfolio over a standard, paper-based portfolio:

– hyperlinked navigation / multimedia / ease of sharing
– easy access – anywhere, anytime
– one ePortfolio can have many uses (as you can create different views for different people to see)
– efficient organisation and management

Dedicated ePortfolio’s can give controlled access; they can be integrated with other systems (such as an LMS); can be used for assessment purposes; and can incorporate other web-based products.

 

ePortfolio’s & Learning

ePortfolio’s can expand learning opportunities. They are active, personal, reflective and social.

ePortfolio’s can be used by students for reflective learning. They can be used for recording information/reflections for example about work placements/practicums. They can capture the research, teaching and learning processes happening during research projects.

Recognition of prior learning can be shown in an ePortfolio. Assessment can be recorded (as well as comments, improvements etc).

They are a fantastic resource for showcasing student work.

 

ePortfolio’s for Teachers

ePortfolio’s can be used by teaching staff in much the same way as for students. They can be used to record/document/produce:

– Professional development
– Performance review
– Resumes and job applications
– Professional portfolio’s
– Peer review/assessment
– Showcase professional and personal achievement.

 

Summary

An ePortfolio is a powerful tool for both students and teachers. It allows learning to be documented in a structured way. It allows security of documents with the user choosing who can see what documents/blogs/etc.

Possibly the most useful part for teaching and learning is that, if used correctly it can capture collaboration that is going on between students, with the teacher, and with the community.

It is a journal of their learning.