Integrating Technology in the Second Language Classroom

Jean LeLoup & Bob Ponterio 
SUNY Cortland 
© 2003

 Electronic Portfolios for Foreign Language Teachers

What belongs in a digital portfolio?
Before adding material to a digital portfolio, we must first establish its purpose. Which standards will be illustrated in the portfolio, and which performance indicators will be used to demonstrate that the student has met each standard? Who is that audience for the portfolio?

ACTFL page on National Standards :

For each performance indicator, reflect upon how you have met the standard. What artifacts demonstrate this achievement?  The portfolio does not simply present student work, it should explain how the student work demonstrates that each standard has indeed been met. For each standard, what does the student need to learn? What are the student's short-term and long-term goals for this standard?

For the teacher, practice preparing one's own standards-based portfolio is an excellent step in learning to design a workable and useful student portfolio template. Helen Barrett's model for the process of developing teacher electronic portfolios represents a solid basis for our understanding and development of student portfolios: How to Create Your Own Electronic Portfolio. The heart of the process lies in these five steps:

(Danielson & Abrutyn, 1997)

Plan your student portfolios carefully, and prepare a portfolio template that meets your needs.

Putting it together - the technology
There are many technologically adequate ways to build a digital portfolio, but each teacher must used the tools and skills at his or her disposal. To be successful, materials collected should be able to adequately represent student performance. Materials collected may be in text, image, audio, and video formats. The overall support medium should present these artifacts within a structure that clearly shows which standards are being met. Reflective commentary should be available in a manner that does not detract from the presentation of the artifacts or distract attention from the standards-based format.

We will use a web page to provide the overall structure of the portfolio. Text may be included in a word processor format, though a scanned image in jpg or gif format or a pdf file are also options.  Audio samples may be collected on audio tape and digitized or collected in a digital format.  Likewise, video may be captured in an analog video recording or using a digital camcorder.  We will use Helix Producer (RM) or Mp3 for audio and RM or MPG for video for the portfolio.

The Electronic Portfolio for pre-service language teachers at SUNY Cortland uses a HTML template in MS Word as the basic portfolio structure to facilitate editing (note that this is outdated and no longer in use at our school - it is just a sample).

By keeping the technological component of the electronic portfolio as simple as possible, students are encouraged to focus more on the content than on the form.

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