5. Tools

Choosing a Tool

You might be interested in the webinar series in the fall of 2011 on different ePortfolio tools:
Co-hosted by AAEEBL, EPAC, and ePortfolio California - working together to extend the reach of ePortfolios for teaching and learning. Visit ePortfolio California for more details.

One of the first questions to ask: Do you have a server where you can install customized portfolio software, such as Mahara? Mahara was developed by Catalyst for the Ministry of Education in New Zealand, initially for higher education. It is currently in the process of being updated, based on requests from a widespread user community. To try out Mahara, you can set up a free test account on one of these sites:
-
foliofor.me
- www.portfoliocommunities.com

Or will you want to use a cloud-based solution? You may choose the most appropriate tool to build the portfolios. Instructions are provided for a variety of free Web 2.0 tools: Google Sites, WordPress.com (or edublogs.org for K-12), Weebly.com (which , Yola.com. Here are the resources provided to support these tools. By the end of the second week, you will select the most appropriate tool, and provide a rationale for that selection. Here are the websites to support the use of each possible tool:

Dr. Barrett's "Selecting a "Free" Online Tool for ePortfolio Development"

Dr. Barrett’s “ePortfolios with GoogleApps” https://sites.google.com/site/eportfolioapps/

Dr. Barrett’s “ePortfolios with WordPress” https://sites.google.com/site/eportfolioswp/

Salt Lake Community College supports the following free tools: weebly.comwordpress.comyola.com.  They created tutorials for students in each of the sites: WeeblyWordPressYola.

Dr. Barrett’s website on using Mobile Tools for ePortfolio development: https://sites.google.com/site/mportfolios/

If you know how to use a specific tool, such as WordPress, use that tool. If you aren't sure, sign up for one or more of the free accounts and see which one is the easiest to use. If you want to brand your portfolio with your own domain name, then build that component into your decision. You will share your decision and the reason for your choice. I encourage you to work with a partner to choose the same tool and learn it together.


Pros and Cons of Different Tools

The table below compares some of the pros and cons of different "free" tools for creating e-portfolios. The costs for upgraded services are listed under "cons" and are presented here for comparison purposes. All of the services can be used fully free of charge, but there are differences when you want to personalize your portfolio with your own domain name, etc.

ToolProsCons
Google Sites

Barrett Tutorial
Google Sites is widely-used for e-portfolios. It offers you hundreds of different templates from which to choose when setting up your site, and it has a great deal of storage capacity, when used in conjunction with Google Docs. Integrate images anywhere on a page. Includes Announcement page type for blog. Site can be easily duplicated.Not many here. Google Sites is is not drag-and-drop like Yola or Weebly, so it is initially a bit more difficult to learn to use.  Cannot password-protect pages...yet. Several levels of security, but all involve inviting viewers by email. 
$10/year for domain name & full GoogleApps. 
Weebly*

SLCC Tutorial

education.weebly.com/
(specific for K-12 schools)
Weebly is drag-and-drop easy. One person has described Weebly as "so easy and fun to do, it reminds me of building sandcastles as a kid." Despite its ease of use, Weebly produces very appealing, professional-looking ePortfolios. It is also very good at handling images in photo galleries and slide shows. The "pro" version includes password protection as well as several other additional features for approximately $3/month for two years of service. While the free version of Weebly is very powerful, it does not allow you to password protect pages. If this is important to you, then you should either choose Yola--which does have this feature in its free version--or go for the "pro" version of Weebly.  Free version only allows two sites per account.
1 Year Premium Subscription Total: $39.95Custom domain name: $39.95/year 
Wordpress*

SLCC Tutorial

SPU Tutorial

edublogs.org (specifically for K-12 schools)
Wordpress is a widely used, powerful blogging tool that also allows you to make a great-looking ePortfolio. It offers you hundreds of different templates from which to choose when setting up your site, and it has a great deal of storage capacity. In your “ settings” (lower left on your site’s dashboard) you can hide your site from web searches, so only those to whom you give the address can look at it. Can password-protect entries.Not many here. WordPress is not drag-and-drop like Yola or Weebly, so it is initially a bit more difficult to learn to use. But once you watch the tutorials and create a few pages, you’ll pick it up very quickly.
Premium Features Costs
VideoPress: $59.97 per year
Remove ads: $29.97 per blog, per year.
Yola*

SLCC Tutorial
Yola has a nice drag-and-drop interface that is easy to use. The file manager feature allows you easy access to the documents and images you've uploaded into your portfolio. Yola has dozens of free templates to choose from when starting your ePortfolio. It also allows you to password protect your assignment pages after your instructors have viewed them. Yola allows five different sites under a single account.Very few cons to this product. Yola's user interface is ever-so-slightly less intuitive than Weebly's. It also doesn't handle image files quite as well; for instance, it doesn't have its own photo gallery tool, so you have to use Flickr or SmugMug.
Yola Silver Pricing: $99.95/year
 
* Pros and Cons from Salt Lake City Community College