When I started to work with Digication, I was both clueless and apprehensive. I'm not bad with technology, but I had never designed a website, so when I saw some impressive examples of complete and polished Digication portfolios, I was pretty nervous. However, once I logged in and started playing around with it, I soon realized that the program is truly user-friendly.
Over the past several quarters since I started using Digication, I've seen my students fall into two main groups - those who are technologically confident and take it in stride, and those who are anxious about working with it. I find that Digication serves both groups of students well. For those who are comfortable with programs and platforms like this, it offers sufficient opportunity to customize their portfolios and push at the boundaries of the program without letting it become unrecognizable. For those who are less familiar or comfortable, it offers a gentle introduction to online portfolios that builds their confidence.
I've found it is a good idea to do an extremely thorough walk-through with all the students, regardless of their apparent comfort level. In order to do this, I take them to a computer lab and have everyone begin with a blank portfolio. Then, I guide them through a detailed narrative of what a student might experience as s/he puts together a portfolio. I have the students click along with me as I go through all of the important basics in my narrative, such as adding pages, uploading modules, etc. I also make sure to include the problems the students may run into - rearranging sections, attaching large files, deleting or hiding unwanted pages, etc. By having the students actually do everything I am doing in my story along with me, they get a hands-on introduction that anticipates what they will experience when they are on their own outside of the classroom. Sometimes the more confident students get bored and start to do their own thing, but the ones that need the extra support are usually happy to follow along.
This approach is admittedly very structured, but it does ensure that all the students gain some measure of control over the program. It also allows me to begin to introduce the rhetorical dimensions of Digication. By having my example student think through the rhetorical effects of some of his/her choices, I hope to pave the way for my actual students to begin to do the same.
What impresses me most about Digication is its flexibility. Instructors can integrate Digication into their classroom in the way that best complements their pedagogical approach to the course. At its most basic, it is a convenient way to organize and display the student's work, but beyond that starting point it can be used to explore structure, audience, visual rhetoric, multimodality, and language and document conventions in innovative ways that can provide a deeper level of engagement for the students.
-- Dana Dunham