e-Portfolios for e-Learning

ePortfolio WordcloudI recently overheard a conversation between two students. They were discussing an upcoming homework assignment and the fact that it had to be posted to the students’ e-Portfolio. One student seemed really opposed to the idea of having his information and work posted electronically, while the other was actually quite ignorant and didn’t even know what an e-Portfolio was. Which got me thinking- I have an e-Portfolio that I created for an online class, but I never questioned WHY I needed it. What is the importance of an e-Portfolio and how does it benefit students in the pursuit of an Online Education?

According to Portfolios at Penn State, a website hosted by Penn State University to provide students and educators with information about and resources for creating an e-Portfolio, the standard use of portfolios is for the presentation of a student’s or instructor’s work and abilities. Because portfolios are dynamic and can be constantly changed and updated, they can help display individual skills or achievements while still acting as more than a technological or digital resume.  Furthermore, thanks to the features made available by many e-Portfolio sites, teachers can use e-Portfolios to assign homework, post information, or increase interactivity and engagement in their classrooms.

E-Portfolios are not just for writing or the arts. In academics, the most valuable use of e-Portfolios is in the support of individualized learning, regardless of subject matter. Learners using e-Portfolios can adapt and adjust their learning experiences, take control of their learning, and use the many e-Portfolio tools to integrate media (such as audio and video) into their learning.

The use of e-Portfolios in academics helps put an emphasis on creativity, promoting originality and the individual process. Furthermore, students and educators who use e-Portfolios in their learning can develop key digital literacy skills and help move education toward the technologically and project-based learning of the 21st Century.

To sum it all up, here are some of the many benefits that students and educators can expect to see from the use of an e-Portfolio:


  • Creating and maintaining an e-Portfolio can help students perform self-assessments in both their work and their learning.
  • Students can take control of their learning, pacing themselves and developing their own goals
  • The process of working on and learning through an e-Portfolio engages students, helping them develop life-long skills while also helping build self-confidence.
  • Upon completion of their e-Portfolio, students will have a record of their personal learning and accomplishments, and could use it as a means of showcasing their work (and strengths) to others.
  • E-Portfolios are a great tool for personal and professional development.
  • And, they are portable, so they can be accessed anywhere, anytime!


  • Teachers could use e-Portfolios to relate to students, taking part in the creative process and providing feedback for work and effort.
  • E-Portfolios also provide an easily accessible record of learning, both personal and professional.
  • When using an electronic template, e-Portfolios are often more organized than physical records and resumes, useful for the quick and efficient retrieval of information.
  • Because of the clear way information is documented in an e-Portfolio, educators can use these sites to link lessons to learning outcomes and prior information and assessments.
  • As with students, e-Portfolios can be used to assess a professor’s or course’s strengths and weaknesses, a great too for future professional and personal development.



12 Important Trends in the e-Portfolio Industry for Education and for Learning, by Trent Batson

41 Benefits of an e-Portfolio, by Karen Barnstable

7 Ways to Create e-Portfolios, by Debra Donston-Miller

CUNY: Teaching and Learning Tips: e-Portfolios

Portfolios at Penn State

Using E-Portfolios in the Classroom, by Mary Beth Hertz

Using Technology: Electronic Portfolios in the K-12 Classroom, by Mary Daniels Brown


27 Tips for Meaningful Technology Integration

One of the great advantages of living and teaching in a world of technology is that there are countless apps, software, devices, and more available at our fingertips to help make learning come alive. However, what is the best way to use this technology in a classroom? How can teachers best engaged students using the technology with which they’re growing up?

Kelly Walsh’s 27 Meaningful (and Fun) Ways to Use Technology for Teaching and Learning discusses the best methods for breaking free of the traditional teaching method. She explains that #EdTech (Educational Technology) can and should be used to to enhance a learning environment. Gone is the age of lecturing and teacher-centered learning. Now, the best way to reach your students is to think like the students!

Interested in taking advantage of the benefits of 21st Century technology? Check out these 27 suggestions for making your classroom “Even More Awesome”:


Source: 27 Meaningful (and Fun) Ways to Use Technology for Teaching and Learning, by Kelly Walsh

The Ultimate Guide to Snapchatting in the Classroom

snapchat in the classroom

You’ve heard of Snapchat as a social-media app for personal use, but what about using Snapchat for education?

Snapchat, the free mobile messaging app that emerged in September of 2011, is one of the foremost social media apps used, not only by millennials but also those born before the digital age, to share pictures, videos, texts, and more.  However, to date Snapchat has been used primarily for social media and friendly interaction. So, how exactly could teachers and students make use of Snapchat in their daily lessons or homework assignments?


Snapchat can be used for:

  1. COMMUNICATING– Dr. Jon Ernstberger of LaGrange College in LaGrange, GA, explains how most, if not all, students are already carrying smartphones, and as of April 2016, more than 77% of college students were using Snapchat on a daily basis. Using Snapchat, teachers can reach and communicate with their students using the technology and tools that are already a daily part of their lives.
  2. DISTANCE TEACHING– Teachers can use Snapchat as a means of coaching students through an assignment or task, sharing pictures or videos of each step in a process instead of having to write or verbalize what may be more complicated instructions.
  3. STORYTELLING– As part of the age of technology, educators are trying to encourage their students to get physically involved in their education. Using Snapchat, students can create and share videos that depict the stages of an assignment, such as a science experiment or the acting out of a book or play being read in class.
  4. LANGUAGE LEARNING– Snapchat can be used like a set of flashcards, with a teacher sending a word to his students and requesting a response in the form of a video or picture that best defines that word (or vice versa). This can be used for advanced vocabulary or foreign language lessons.
  5. COUNTING DOWN THE MINUTES– Another use for Snapchat in the classroom can be for teachers to publicize the amount of time until an exam or due date, visually depicting to students how much time they have to prepare for the upcoming event.

For more information on Snapchatting in the Classroom, see Can Snapchat Bridge the Communication Chasm in Online Courses?, by Jon Ernstberger & Melissa A. Venable. 



80 Amazing Snapchat Statistics, by Craig Smith

Can Snapchat Bridge the Communication Chasm in Online Courses?, by Jon Ernstberger & Melissa A. Venable.

Why Millennials Use Snapchat, by Maya Kosoff


An Essential Guide to Videos for a Flipped Classroom

39267299_sSince 2007, flipped classrooms have gradually risen in popularity as a mode of education throughout the country. Students and teachers alike have embraced the concept of maximizing class time with an instructor to work with and understand new concepts as opposed to introducing material which students are expected to comprehend at home. Instead, students are introduced to ideas during “homework” and complete school work during class when the instructor is available to assist them.

Instructor made videos are a primary way through which faculty “teach” students at home. As opposed to assigning reading about the topic or directing students to online resources, instructor made videos are a fantastic way to instruct students in a personable manner. But many instructors do not know how to create such videos or how to distribute them to their students.

John Bregmann and Aaron Sams, pioneers in the flipped classroom experience, outline simple and easy-to-use video tools in their article, Flipped-Learning Toolkit: Let’s Talk Tech on Edutopia.org. Popular solutions which they detail include:

  • Screencasting
  • Tablet Software
  • Document Camera-Based Solutions
  • Camera-Based Solutions

For more information and to learn how to improve your flipped classroom check out this article here.

Is a Video Worth 1,000 Words? [INFOGRAPHIC]

YouTube is one of the most commonly used search engines. Users often think of it in the context of viral videos or do-it-yourself tutorials, but in addition to this, it contains a wealth of valuable and information information. Due to its massive span of video topics, ranging from science to literature and from current events to ancient history, many teachers are finding that it can be a fantastic means through which to enrich any class session.

Check out this great infographic from eLearningInfographics.com to learn how YouTube can be used to bring any lesson to life.


Source: eLearningInfographics.com

Rubrics for Assignments in Online Courses

26680711_sAn important aspect of an online course is grading assignments and providing feedback. This is especially true in an asynchronous course where there is no real-time interaction between the instructors and students. Once a student completes a learning activity, the instructor teaches via the grading of the assignment and provides clear and helpful feedback to the student.

A rubric is one of the most popular grading and assessment tools.

Here are five benefits to having rubrics as a central part of an online course:

  1. Goals – Due to the lack of external motivation in an asynchronous course, it is important for students to have established goals in order to remain motivated. A rubric explains exactly what their goals should be
  2. Expectations – In addition to goals, students need to know what is expected of them. A clear rubric creates an understanding between the instructors and students and minimizes miscommunication between them.
  3. Grading Consistency – Because online students are not communing in one classroom, some online courses may have larger enrollment numbers than their brick-and-mortar counterparts. Consequently, there may be more than one grader for any given assignment. A set rubric guarantees consistency and fairness for all students.
  4. Detailed Feedback – A strong, objective based learning assignment should enable a student to know what concept areas he has mastered and where he needs to improve. Since a rubric outlines why a student received a specific grade, that personalized feedback can guide him to do better on the next assignment and in the course in general.
  5. Online Discussions – A major component of most online courses is the discussion board. While it is meant to mimic the class and conversation of a traditional learning environment, it is also a graded assignment. Rubrics can reign in the subjective nature of a adding to a discussion board as well as grading it by providing guidelines for the students and the instructor.

Here are three great online resources to assist you in making rubrics for your online class:

  1. RubiStar – This is a free online tool which allows you to customize rubrics for any course or assignment. It provides users with a general rubric which can be personalized through its easy-to-use user interface. Users can also select customized rubrics which were created by other instructors.
  2. Rubrics for Online Course – This website, powered by Northern Arizona University, provides examples of rubrics which are specialized for online courses. These provide a fantastic framework for instructors when they are creating rubrics for their classes.
  3. Blackboard Rubrics – This LMS allows instructors to create rubrics inside of the course and directly attach it to any assignment. Instead of attaching a rubric from a different source, such as a PDF, an instructor can fill out the rubric online while he is grading the assignment. The rubric is automatically shown to the student, all within the LMS, so that he knows where to improve. Blackboard also provides instructions and a tutorial explain how rubrics work and how to best use them in the LMS.

Reference herein to any specific commercial products, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply an endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by Touro College.


Rubrics – More than Just Assessment by Dr. Renee Aitkin on Online Learning Consortium

Grading Rubrics and Online Assignments by Melissa Venable on OnlineCollege.org

Grading and Performance Rubrics by Carnegie Mellon University

How Polls Can Enhance Your Classroom

poll picture 2Instructors always want to know what their students are thinking. They traditionally accomplish this on a daily basis through posing questions to the class or individual students to gauge their understanding. They also ask students to demonstrate their knowledge through quizzes and tests.

While the results of these oral or written assessments guide instructors in adjusting the lessons to suit their students’ needs, unfortunately, this important information often comes too late to create a noticeable impact in the course. Distributing a poll is a solution to this problem.

Polling students is similar to asking a question to a student body, except that the results are received very quickly and are often more accurate than a count of a raise of hands.

Aided by technology, the use of polling in a course can benefit an instructor in many ways, including:

  • Informing him which materials need to be reviewed
  • Enhancing classroom engagement (especially if the course is asynchronous)
  • Pinpointing which particular students are struggling
  • Reaching students who are less apt to speak in class

Below are a number of popular polling services which might enhance your classroom:

Poll Everywhere – This polling product provides nearly instantaneous feedback to aid the teacher. An instructor can choose from multiple types of polls and questions to distribute to his class and students can respond via text message or online. The results are automatically analyzed and no response is left unaccounted.

Doodle – While many learners are comfortable learning from a distance, it is often valuable to meet up, whether online or in a person, a number of times during the semester. Doodle is a simple scheduling tool which allows an organizer to poll participants in order to determine which meeting time would work best.

Survey Monkey – This polling system is perfect for distributing surveys to any number of respondents. With an intuitive interface and helpful instructions, users can choose from many question types to create the perfect survey. Once responses are submitted, useful analytics break down the responses to inform the creator of what he needs to know.

Flisti – This straightforward, polling program is incredibly easy to use and gets straight to the point. Since no account is required to use Flisti, one can literally create a poll within seconds. Once the poll is created, the creator embeds it on a blog or website through which students can access and respond to it. Flisti is ideal for quick, class polls which do not need to be broken down by individual students.

Socrative – Tech savvy teachers will find much use for Socrative in their classrooms. This program is available on any computer or mobile device. Best utilized during class time, instructors and students both access Socrative through their personal accounts. Teachers can quiz students or ask simple questions and receive real-time results. The results are analyzed by individual students and instructors can easily identify classroom trends and specific student needs.

ClassPager – Messages from this polling system go straight to a student’s cell phone. Instructors can text reminders and polls to their students while ClassPager keeps phone numbers secure and confidential. Students respond by text and the instructor receives their responses. This smooth means of communication enables teachers to constantly measure their students’ progress.

How do you use polls in your classroom?

Open Source Textbooks [INFOGRAPHIC]

Imagine thousands of students acquiring digital versions of their college textbooks. Imagine that each textbook was tailored to precisely suit the exact needs of each course. Now imagine that those textbooks are free.

This is the reality that open source textbooks, a new phenomenon in higher education, might one day create.

Open source textbooks are textbooks composed of material that is open and free to the public. Textbooks might be created through a Creative Commons license or simply compiled by professors using resources which are always available to the public, like articles or certain videos. In addition, companies such as OpenStaxCollege, FlatWorld, Lumen, and Boundless strive to produce open source textbooks on a grand scale and still enable professors and students to use them free of charge or at a very low cost.

While most instructors do not yet embrace this new textbook design, some positive factors might propel opens source textbooks into mainstream education.

  • Price – The rising price of textbooks hurts many students. In response, some professors are turning to open-source textbooks as a way to enable all of their students to participate in the course and keep their money.
  • Personalized – Open source textbooks enable professors to have much more control over what the students study. Instead of skipping chapters or distributing piles of handouts, they can customize the textbooks to exactly what they want to teach.
  • Comtemporary – Professors can update the textbook based on current event. This is an easy way to easily demonstrate a subject’s practicality to students.

Check out this infographic from eLearning Infographics to learn more about the history of open educational resources.

The History of Open Educational Resources Infographic



New Strategy Would Drop College Textbook Costs to Zero by Carrie Wells on BaltimoreSun.com

Free Textbooks Shaking Up Higher Education by Victor Luckerson on Time.com

How Some Colleges are Offering Free Textbooks by Emanuella Grinberg on cnn.com

Video Animation in an Online Course

tv photoThis title might seem like an anomaly. Animation brings to mind silly cartoons and juvenile programming. Animation, however, can be an appealing and advantageous supplement in an online classroom.

Here are five great benefits of using animated videos:

  1. Create a “trailer” for your course – Spark interest. Show by example that the course will be dynamic and exciting, not a simple correspondence course.
  2. Demonstrate professionalism – Fireworks and special effects are not enough to grab a student’s interest. While students value technology, they appreciate technology that makes sense. A video animation tool assists you in merging your logic and creativity to produce a clean and exciting delivery of your ideas.
  3. As an assignment – An instructor needs to evaluate a student’s progress. Generally, evaluations are conducted in the forms of writing responses. The assignment to create a short, animated film can be a different and compelling way to encourage student involvement and assess student progress.
  4. As collaboration – Group work is always important. Videos can be produced in groups and easily shared through many social media. This can generate stimulating discussion about the subject matter.
  5. Provide visual instruction – Educators know that it is important to teach to all types of learners; audial learners, visual learners, and kinesthetic learners. Animated videos can serve as visual and audial instruction and even create a broader learning experience.

Video Animation Tools

Though it may look difficult, it is easy for instructors to produce professional-looking videos. Check out these five video animation tools which empowers design novices to create incredible productions.

  1. VideoScribe – This tool specializes in whiteboard animation, a very popular promotional animation style. Images are drawn on screen imitating what an instructor might do on a whiteboard in front of the classroom. VideoScribe can be accessed on a computer, iPhone, iPad, Android, and Kindle.
  2. Go Animate – This tool aims to give their customers a professional style videos which are easy and fun to create. Users can choose themes, backgrounds, music, and even animated characters to enhance the presentation.
  3. Wideo – With the ability to choose pre-existing templates or start from scratch, Wideo users can take advantage of the intuitive interface to easily create modern and sleek animation.
  4. PowToon – This animation tool strives to enable users to design exciting and professional videos. Recognizing the importance of education, PowToon also specializes in enabling and training teachers to use it in their classrooms.
  5. Moovly – Complete with state-of-the art animation features, Moovly can students and teachers with special deals and educational licenses in order to harness its functions in the classroom.

How do you use video animation in your online classroom?

How to Start Curating Content

Stack of bindersContent curation is a way of collecting online resources in an organized manner and then effectively sharing them with a chosen audience.

The amount of valuable information online can at times seem overwhelming. Curate those materials to best take advantage of everything that the internet has to offer. This technique allows professors to strategically keep track of all interesting digital discoveries and easily retrieve them to use as course material.

Fortunately, there are many free, easy-to-use tools available to facilitate the process.

Here are six great tools to help you organize your online classroom:

Bundlr – create bundles of online resources which can be shared and embedded on websites.

Delicious – build a personal search engine composed of saved links.

Diigo – store information in a personal library with the opportunity to annotate and collaborate.

Evernote – gather resources with Web Clipper, share and access on any computer or mobile device.

Pinterest – pin pictures, articles, and videos onto virtual bulletin boards. To learn more, click here.

TheHubEdu – organize information on “shelves” to share with others.

Which tool works best for you?