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How-to (GoogleSites)

Creating an Interactive Portfolio with Google Sites

Process of Creating an Electronic Portfolio - Using examples from my Google Sites portfolio
developed by Helen C. Barrett, Ph.D.

For more detail on Google Sites, including basic information about setting up your first site,
visit the multimedia Google Apps Training Site,
a Google Sites Tour (a YouTube video) and
Google Sites: Simple, secure group websites (a YouTube video).

Getting started

  1. Define the purpose of the portfolio (Learning? Showcase? Assessment?) What is this portfolio supposed to demonstrate?
  2. Keep a Learning Journal.
  3. Collect digital documents [artifacts] (or convert documents into digital format through digital cameras or scanners or digital audio/video tools).
  4. Use GoogleDocs to create artifacts for portfolio, including word processing documents, presentations, spreadsheets, or PDFs. Existing Word, Excel and Powerpoint documents can be uploaded into GoogleDocs.
  5. Select specific documents to meet the goals identified in step 1 above. (Sometimes in selecting the documents, the goals emerge!)
Use a simple table to list the artifacts, and assign (classify) each one to the outcome/goal/standard that the artifact will demonstrate.
See my List of my artifacts and classification

Keeping a Learning Journal

The Announcements page type can be used as a form of "blog" or learning journal (sometimes called a learning portfolio), since it allows individual posts, and it is organized in reverse chronological order. The learner can also attach documents to any entry, or can create a link to any GoogleDocs Document/Presentation/Spreadsheet, to another GoogleSites page, or any web page. See Journal as an example.
  • Create a New Page with Announcements page type.
  • Create a New Post for each entry, to reflect on learning that takes place over time.
  • Use the Insert -> Recent posts Gadget on any page to show a summary of the last few entries (you can indicate the number) -- recommend placing on Home page.
Most of the time developing an electronic portfolio will be spent in the development of the digital archive (mostly maintained in GoogleDocs), and in maintaining this learning journal, that may include links to the specific learning activities being discussed in the journal/blog.

At a certain point in time (prior to a parent conference, end of the school year, etc.), a more formal presentation portfolio would be developed, which is discussed below.

Authoring an electronic portfolio

Here are the steps in authoring an electronic "presentation" portfolio:
  1. Create a first page as an introduction and table of contents
  2. Set up a structure around the goals/themes identified in purpose statement
  3. One page for each goal/theme with links to first page
  4. Upload artefacts to page or create hyperlinks to documents online
  5. Write reflections about how the artefacts demonstrate achievement of goals
  6. Write future learning goals
  7. Publish portfolio online
Below there is more detail on each step, using Google Sites, which is Google's version of a wiki.

Create a first page - Introduction & Table of Contents

Write an Introduction to the Reader (sometimes this is the last thing you write, although it is the first thing people will read). Identify the purpose of this portfolio, the audience, and the contents. Why did you create this portfolio?

For example, see Home page

Set up a structure using goals (or themes) as organizing framework

Table of Contents in Google Sites with links to individual pages created for each goal/theme

Read my At-a-Glance page to see how I identified the artifacts to include in my portfolio, and how I created classifications by competencies, using a simple matrix.

Create one page for each section

Once these categories are identified, set up other pages for each major category you have identified, and link those sub-pages to the main page. Every new page created will automatically be added to the Navigation Bar. (The option needs to be set for sites created prior to July 2009: More Actions -> Manage Site -> Site Layout -> edit [Navigation] -> Automatically organize my navigation.)

There are these types of pages in Google Sites:
  • Web Page - A WYSIWYG web page builder [Example: this page, and most other pages in my portfolio]
  • Dashboard - A collection of gadgets
  • Announcements - A blog-style page [Example: Journal]
  • File Cabinet - A page to upload files and organize them into folders
  • List - Organize information into tables

Upload artifacts/create hyperlinks

Add the artifacts (through hyperlinks) to the appropriate page in the portfolio. (It is not clear whether there can be hyperlinks to flies stored in a File Cabinet page). Notice the types of Google files that can be embedded on a page. Hyperlinks can also be created to open these files in another window.

Link to a page  

Link to a web address

(or type in a URL, select it, and select Link. The URL or eMail address will be automatically converted to a link)

At the bottom of each page, you can add attachments. See the At-a-Glance page for an example.

500 MB total storage available in Google Sites (not counting hyperlinked documents… put your video in SchoolTube, blip.tv/, motionbox.com, fliggo.com/, vimeo.com, or other video sharing sites, and use an EMBED code!)

Write reflections for each goal/skill and each artifact

Write a brief reflection on each artifact (what is the context in which this artifact was developed? Why was it included in the portfolio?).

You might also write a reflection on each grouping of artifacts (by outcome/goal/standard).

See examples on these pages:  Electronic Portfolio Competency  •  Digital Storytelling CompetencyTechnology Competency

Write future learning goals

See example on this page: My Future Learning Goals

Publish Portfolio - Seek Feedback

Navigate using hyperlinks in Navigation Bar (See Step 2 above).
Share Google Sites Website with other users.

This stage provides an opportunity for interaction and feedback on the work posted in the portfolio. This is where the power of Web 2.0 interactive tools becomes apparent. Feedback through email, online or face-to-face interaction. Invite people to be collaborators, and they can enter feedback at the bottom of any page, using the Comments feature (at the bottom of each page, if you are a member of the site and logged in).

NOTE: To see your Google Site as any public users will see it, you must log out of your account (or view the site from another web browser on your computer, where you are not logged in to your Google account. The Edit Page commands at the top of the page will go away... you will only see the small links at the bottom of each page.

Evaluating Portfolios

Teachers often provide exemplars for different levels of achievement, and provides a rubric for evaluation.

The portfolio developer should be given the option of updating the work, based on the feedback and the rubric.