23 December 2015

What Students Really Think about Portfolios

For me, the portfolios students submitted this semester were by far the most successful --and most attractive--portfolios EVER. 

I didn't have to request access to files at midnight. I didn't have to scroll and click all over creation to find evidence--AND the evidence on them actually fit what I was looking for! 

Sure, I could get a quick dip test of how students could do in a given context with our regular IPAs, but the portfolios worked well to let me see how much of the ACTFL proficiency cone they were actually filling out, how much variety they could handle.

I'm very happy with VoiceThread portfolios!

But this isn't about me.



On the end-of-course survey this year, opinions of badges were pretty overwhelmingly high. Opinions on portfolio, however, were  a little more mixed, though overall still pretty positive.
Almost half responded to the question, "How do you feel about PORTFOLIO VOICETHREADS?" with praise:

either for the process:

  • They were kinda easy and they helped a lot.
  • They were very helpful and it was cool to see how I've improved
  • Voicethreads were a great way of learning and correcting our errors.
  • I feel like they did some good because they let us reflect back on them when needed.


the product:

  • Portfolio Voicethreads are a good way for you to be able to check up on our progress and I think that they're an easy grade when properly completed.
  • I feel they're a good way to show what we can do.
  • They help me prove that I know Spanish.
  • I feel they're a good way to show what we can do.


or the platform:

  • I love voice thread.
  • I like how they work because Voicethread is a simple tool to use.



Only nine felt completely negative about VoiceThread portfolios, and the fifteen mixed-bag responses pretty much universally acknowledged that they considered the portfolios "beneficial."

Mostly the non-satisfied customers were just annoyed, sometimes with the frequency of the assignment (not quite one section a week), but mostly? Mostly they were annoyed with the technology:

  • I liked making the portfolios but voicethread upload times are less than satisfactory.
  • I hate voicethread. I think I did well until I had trouble uploading everything.
  • I like them expect when I have to record the video as comment and not a video.
  • I feel like voicethread is hard to use because things don't work or videos don't upload and it gets confusing sometimes.


Fortunately there IS a solution!

We need a new way to go about this unless we are able to get paid accounts.


I will be piloting paid accounts with next semester's Spanish I (came into some accounts after discovering how VoiceThread's new comment features can be particularly useful for portfolio curation). Paid accounts should solve pretty much all of the uploading problems, which I think will probably solve the majority of the annoyance problems too.

Of course there are workarounds for the free accounts, like uploading as video comments or just recording the audio as a comment pirate-style if a file was too big to upload as media (I even made a video to demonstrate how! Which really only goes so far in reducing irritation, if I'm honest with myself.)


So it's good to know that the kiddos can see how the portfolio process helps them reflect on their performance and actually see their growth over time. Even some of the Negative Nancies could see how it would be useful to show others what they can do.

And as for annoying? We'll see if larger upload limits don't make reflecting a little less stressful!

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