Academic Digital Portfolios: Tools and Resources

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Digital portfolios are great teaching, learning, and assessment tools. In today’s post we are focusing on the learning part and are looking at e-portfolios from a student-centric perspective. To learn how teachers can leverage the powerful of portfolios in their instruction, check out Arter and Spandel (1992) paper (see reference list at the bottom of this page). By definition, a portfolio, according to Arter and Spandel, ‘is a purposeful collection of student work that exhibits to the student, or others, her efforts or achievement in one or more areas’ (cited in  Baki and Birgin, 2007, p. 77). The key word here is ‘purposeful’, a portfolio is different from a folder in that it has a purpose and is guided by a number of learning objectives and expected outcomes. Without intentional planning, a portfolio becomes a mere receptacle of one’s work.

Three processes are involved in portfolio creation: collection, selection, and reflection. Each of these processes trains students in a number of skills. Together they provide students with the appropriate mindset to help them take responsibility of their learning and thrive as budding life-long learners.

There are numerous benefits students will gain from incorporating portfolios in their learning. Here is a summarized list of some these benefits based on readings we did in this regard (see sources list at the bottom of this post).
Portfolios enable students to record their learning and document their growth over a period of time.
They Provide students with a venue through which they can showcase their learning.
They can be used as a tool for self-assessment, self-reflection and personal development.
They help students focus on the process of learning rather than the end product.
They promote deeper learning as students actively engage in the learning process.
They develop students metacognitive skills (reflective practices) and help them take control of their learning.
They empower students' voice.
They are a ‘method of self-discovery and confidence building’.
They help students develop personal and academic identities.
They assist students in locating their strengths and weaknesses and plan for future improvement.
They invite teachers' feedback and peers’s input.
They help students develop their writing skills.
A portfolio presents a concrete evidence of your work and achievements to prospective employers.
There are several web tools students can use to create digital portfolios. We have already reviewed a number of them over the last few years. But if you are to ask us about the ones we recommend the most, we would direct you to the following:

We have created an infographic version of this post. Check out here.

1- Google Sites
This is one of the best platforms we have been recommending for teachers over the last few years. Students can use it to create and host their own digital portfolios. The site is simple and easy to use and they can set up their new website within minutes. They can create as many pages as they want, then upload their content, and share with others. Site Help has everything students need to effectively use Google Sites.

2- Weebly
This is another good website  students can use to create digital portfolios. Like Google Sites, Weebly provides users with a simple drag and drop editor that allows you to design your website the way you want. No HTML or coding knowledge acquired. You simply select a template, customize it with your own content and publish it to the web.

3- Google Slides
Google Slides can be used to create digital portolios in the form of a presentation. There is actually a pre-made template for that. This Portfolio template provides students with a tentative layout and structure to build their own portfolio.

4- Seesaw
Seesaw is a powerful tool to help students create and share digital portfolios. It allows them to capture and showcase their learning in multiple formats. They can include videos, drawings, text notes, links, and several other materials to their portfolios. Teachers and parents can easily access and check students work.

5- Evernote
This is another practical option for creating digital portfolios. Students record their thoughts using notes then enhance these notes using things such as photos, audio files, links, and attachments. Evernote provides various organizational features that enable users to effectively organize their work so it can be easily searched and accessed across different devices.

1- Arter, J. A. & Spandel, V. (1992).  Using portfolios of student work in instruction and
assessment. Educational Measurement: Issue and Practice, 11(1), 36-44.
2- Baki, A. & Birgin, O. (2007). The use of portfolio to assess student’s performance. Turkish Science Education, 4(2), 75-90. Accessed from
3- 41 Benefits of An e-Portfolio (Stable Transition).
4- The Benefits of E-portfolios for Students and Faculty in Their Own Words (Association of American Colleges and Universities).
5- Introduction to Using Portfolios in the Classroom (by Charlotte Danielson and Leslye Abrutyn, ASCD).
7- 3 Reasons to Use Portfolios in Education ( by Bernard Bull, Etale- Education, Innovation, Experimentation).
8- The Importance of A Portfolio (Career Centre).
9- Chapter 7- Portfolio Assessment (NC Public Schools).

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