The concept of Digital Portfolios isn’t inherently bad, but making them required for students is not helpful. Digital Portfolios (or DPs) are a way for students to be able to to save and preserve their work online to be able to reflect on their accomplishments and look back on how they’ve grown and developed over the years they’ve spent at high school.
While some students may like having this feature, others may find it to be trivial but still have to do it or otherwise they may not be able to advance.
The first problem with making DPs mandatory is that their requirements are very minimal. Even if a student has no interest in working on their DP, it doesn’t take a lot of effort for it to be able to pass. Entries require an introduction, some sort of image or video, and a conclusion, but they don’t require a lot of detail. This means that students can essentially rush through getting their DPs done.
The purpose of putting work in DPs is for students to be able to talk about their work and the thought process that went behind it, so that you can look back on it in the future and learn about what you did right and what could have been done better so you can apply that knowledge to future projects. If students are going to write careless entries in their DPs, it won’t be worthwhile and might as well not have written one at all.
Another problem with how DPs are used is that they often only provide a small sample size of what was actually taught during class. While some of them upload a project to their DPs every so often during the semester, for most classes, DPs only require one assignment or project to be posted and are ignored for most of the year. Because some classes like to teach different subjects in different units, so a project that gets uploaded may only tie into one unit of the class and not tell you anything else about what the class did and learned.
Portfolios are commonly used by artists, designers, and engineers to compile all of their work together as a means to be able to display and express their talent and experience. Having only one project in your portfolio doesn’t provide a proper insight into what you’ve done or your experience. Students should have the ability to put projects into DPs if they so chose, but it doesn’t make sense to force all students to get them done. DPs require a good amount of effort to make them meaningful, and there are students who don’t want to put in that effort and would be perfectly fine never having to make another entry in their DP again.
A choice should be given to students as to if they want to work on their DPs so that they may focus more on getting the last few assignments and projects done and if necessary get their grade ups. With all of the chaos that takes place at the end of the semester, students should have an option in what they want to put their focus into, rather than on something that to a number of people isn’t all that important.