During our first pilot phase in the Autumn Quarter 2010, 12 instructors and 450 students worked on digital portfolios using Digication for the first time in First Year Writing. The initial portfolios and participants' survey data resulted in rich and productive materials that helped us to understand instructors' and students' attitudes toward a portfolio pedagogy, gave us insights into the possibilities and challenges surrounding digital literacies, and focused us on the kinds of support that students and instructors will need as we foster and support a local and thoughtful portfolio culture.
First Pilot Phase Lessons Learned:
- Introduce the concept of portfolios early in the term
- Provide ongoing, followup support and encouragement
- Students overwhelming find the platform easy to learn and to use and overwhelmingly report positive, productive uses of the platform
- In places where students expressed difficulties or challenges, resources were available specifically for those difficulties and challenges because we anticipated them. We will, therefore, redouble our efforts to get those resources into the hands of instructors to share with students as needed, and we will work with colleagues in UWCBL and MPT to publicize ongoing support opportunities
- Students reveal a sophisticated audience awareness—sometimes even when not specifically prompted—toward issues such as credibility and writing for multiple audiences
In our second pilot phase during the Winter Quarter 2010, we gathered additional feedback and data, which resulted in pedagogical ideas for how and when to introduce digital portfolios in our courses, how to work with students on typographic and formatting issues, and how to integrate meta-awareness and metacognition in classroom discussions and workshops as a way to highlight portfolios as the centerpiece of our First Year Writing pedagogy.
Second Pilot Phase Lessons Learned:
- Offer low-stakes, ungraded writing assignments to test-drive Digication
- Encourage mid-term portfolio submissions to prepare for final
- Continue to make students aware of resources such as MPT and UCWbL
- Student writers respond well – often enthusiastically -- when they are clear on the purpose of the portfolio and are given the opportunity to perceive a value and benefits to portfolio work: reflection, meta-awareness, professional preparation, lifelong learning and growth, interdisciplinary & longitudinal writing, digital literacy, multimodality
- Consider integrating assessment features that foreground both textual qualities -- the reading experience of actual readers -- and textual features: formal elements of texts, such as correctness, grammar, precision, rhetorical appropriateness
- Student writers will engage more actively and demonstrate meaningful ownership of their portfolios when given some of the power and decision-making authority over what goes into the portfolio and its design
- Student writers appreciate an early-in-the term introduction to portfolios, rather than later, when it feels "tacked on" (see D-WRD resources on "pacing")