DIGITAL PORTFOLIOS: A Place to Document, Share & Enrich Student Learning


[semester equivalent = 3.33 credits]



Michael Boll



This course meets OSPI's STEM requirements.

Our students come to school nearly every day and work on the outcomes, goals, and assignments provided by fantastic teachers. Capturing that learning and asking students to reflect in a way that is easily shared and maintained, is more possible today than ever before using digital portfolios.  

Digital portfolios provide unique and compelling opportunities for students to document and share their learning with teachers, other students, families and more. New tools, greater access to the classroom, and acceptance mean the time for creating a digital portfolio system in your class is now. 

This course is appropriate for teachers K-12.

Textbook, Digital Citizen: A Community-Based Approach, approximately $9 on Amazon.


LEARNING OUTCOMES: Upon completion of this course, participants will have:

  1. Understand the difference between a digital and analog portfolio
  2. Understand how to create a sustainable digital portfolio system for you and your students

  3. Define appropriate content for a digital portfolio

  4. Explore new tools for creating digital portfolios.Yes, there are a lot of portfolio sites. I hope you cover this in one or more assignments.

  5. Learn, understand and apply the SAMR method in developing content for a digital portfolio

  6. Understand and master the technical requirements for creating a digital portfolio system

  7. Understand and articulate the benefits of having a digital portfolio

  8. Build a sustainable digital portfolio system in your classroom

  9. Chart a path that includes the future of digital portfolios

This class assumes you have a Gmail and/or Google apps account.  If you do not have one, please let me know and we can work out an alternative setup for you.

Completion of all specified assignments is required for issuance of hours or credit. The Heritage Institute does not award partial credit.

Completing the basic assignments (Section A. Information Acquisition) for this course automatically earns participant’s their choice of CEUs (Continuing Education Units), or Washington State Clock Hours or Oregon PDUs. The Heritage Institute offers CEUs and is an approved provider of Washington State Clock Hours and Oregon PDUs.



Continuing Education Quarter credits are awarded by Antioch University Seattle (AUS). AUS requires 75% or better for credit at the 400 level and 85% or better to issue credit at the 500 level. These criteria refer both to the amount and quality of work submitted.

  1. Completion of Information Acquisition assignments 30%
  2. Completion of Learning Application assignments 40%
  3. Completion of Integration Paper assignment 30%


CREDIT/NO CREDIT (No Letter Grades or Numeric Equivalents on Transcripts)
Antioch University Seattle (AUS) Continuing Education Quarter credit is offered on a Credit/No Credit basis; neither letter grades nor numeric equivalents are on a transcript. 400 level credit is equal to a "C" or better, 500 level credit is equal to a "B" or better. This information is on the back of the transcript.

AUS Continuing Education quarter credits may or may not be accepted into degree programs. Prior to registering determine with your district personnel, department head or state education office the acceptability of these credits for your purpose.



Digital Citizenship: A Community-Based Approach (Corwin Connected Educators Series) 1st Edition, Kindle Edition  

Course FlipBoard I use the web app FlipBoard to store articles for this course.  It is a great way for your instructor, and people in this class, to add articles they find helpful.

  • Digital Citizenship: A Community-Based Approach (Corwin Connected Educators Series)
    ISBN# 1483392651
    by Bearden, Susan M.

    Buy from Amazon


Text, Digital Citizenship: A Community-Based Approach (Corwin Connected Educators Series) 1st Edition, Kindle Edition. $9.56 purchase of required textbook.



Assignments done in a course forum will show responses from all educators active in the course. Feel free to read and respond to others comments. 

Assignment #1: Introduction: Getting Started and Thinking about Digital Portfolio

Welcome!  So glad to have you here ready to learn more about the power of portfolios. This lesson helps me get to know you better, understand your early interest in digital portfolios, and set yourself up with the Digital Portfolio Planning guide. A guide designed to help you “walk out the door” of this course ready to start using digital portfolios.


  1. Open up the Digital Portfolio Planning Guide. It is a Google Doc and will ask you to create a copy of it right away.  A Google Drive account is required. If that causes difficulty, let me know  ( and I will help you out.
  2. Share the document with me using my email address.

         If you need help sharing, see here.

  1. Complete the “quick write” assignment.
  2. In the assignment box below, tell me a little bit about yourself.  Feel free to include:
    1. Where you work
    2. Grade level
    3. Reason why you picked the course
    4. How I, as an instructor, can help you
    5. What you hope to walk away with at the end

Assignment #2: Portfolios and Their Impact on Student Learning

Heading down the portfolio road, digital or not, is a commitment that occupies your valuable classroom instruction time. Personally, I believe portfolios are well worth the time and a digital version makes them all that much more powerful. This assignment helps you explore and articulate the benefits portfolios bring to your students and their learning.

Feel free to move ahead to other assignments first and return to this one. Personally, I learn best by jumping in and building something. After that, I am better able to reflect and articulate “Why” I am doing something.

In 400 words, or more, articulate a series of “why’s” when it comes to creating a digital portfolio.
Some of these “why’s” might include:

  1. Alignment to existing curriculum
  2. Benefits to your assessment practices
  3. Communication with parents and others
  4. Practicing positive digital citizenship
  5. Monitoring student progress
  6. Other ideas you have yourself


Assignment #3: Designing Your Portfolio System


On the surface, a portfolio sounds like a great idea. A place for students to capture and maintain their thoughts. A place to reflect on those thoughts and a vehicle for sharing content with parents, teachers and other students.

You likely have some specific ideas on how to use digital portfolios and why you think they would be helpful in your situation. This assignment helps you to articulate your ideas.


  1. Open up the digital portfolio planning guide you started in lesson one.
  2. Complete the portfolio design chart.
  3. Submit the link to your planning guide in the assignment box.


Assignment #4: The Tools

The tools are what make creating a digital portfolio possible. They also, if you are not careful, create barriers and make the sustainable use of digital portfolios a nightmare. If you can find a tool that lowers the barriers to making digital portfolios, you will walk away with a big win. 
This assignment helps you to find the right tool for your situation.


  1. Explore the tools available in the resources section below.
    1. Complete this matrix to help you explore the different options.  It will ask you to make a copy and requires a Google account.  Let me know if you need help.
    2. Share this document with your instructor (me). My email address is If you need help sharing, (see here.)
  2. Write a short reflection on the tool you are most likely to use.
    1. Submit your reflection in the assignment box below.

Questions to consider:

  • Cost
  • Takes advantage of existing school system such as Google Apps
  • Walled garden option
  • Carries over to future years
  • Ease of use
  • Support system
  • Popularity
  • Supports the hardware you have
  • Ease of engagement with parents and others

Suggested Digital Portfolio Tools

Assignment #5: Preparing and Setting Up Your Digital Portfolio System

Using a tool to help you with 1-18 students requires moderate effort. Using a tool for 20 or more students is more problematic and time consuming. Essentially, the larger the number of students, the larger the scale of the effort. “Scaling” is a common problem in any organization and there are lots of methods you can use it make it work better for you.


  1. Open up the digital portfolio planning guide you created above.
  2. Complete the table found under the title “Preparing and Setting Up Your Digital Portfolios System.”
  3. Submit the link to your digital portfolio planning guide.


Assignment #6: Understanding the SAMR Model

SAMR stands for substitution, augmentation, modification and redefinition and is a powerful methodology to help us upgrade our use of technology in the classroom. We do have ISTE standards, but SAMR made so much more sense to me.
Learning about this model is the first step. In the next lesson we will apply the SAMR model to your digital portfolios.


  1. Watch this short video on what SAMR is all about. This graphic is helpful as well.
  2. Listen to one or both of my interviews about the SAMR model
    1. Interview with Ruben Puentedura, the creator of the SAMR model. Listen directly on the website, or click the “Play in New Window” button.
    2. A roundtable discussion on the SAMR model
  3. Write a review/opinion of the SAMR model.
    1. Suggested topics include:
      1. Could SAMR be helpful to your teaching style?
      2. Can we apply SAMR to most future learning? In other words, is it flexible enough to change with the times?
      3. Is the SAMR model something schools should use as a basis for improving instruction in the entire building?
      4. Other thoughts you have.
  4. Submit your work in the assignment box below.


Assignment #7: STEM Career Choices


The future of work, as you know, is shifting.  Even education which is often one of the last structures to change embraced remote learning for certain courses or entire programs. These are designed to meet the needs of students who prefer to school from home and/or enjoy the chance to take a specific course their school is unable to offer.

Some sort of STEM-related skills is becoming nearly mandatory for access to a middle class or above lifestyle. 


Take a read of the two articles below. One discusses the future of work and how it is (no surprise) embracing remote workforces. The other lists the top 30 STEM careers of the future. This list, of course, will end up changing over time but for now, it is a starting point.

After reading the articles, pick one or more of the 30 careers and in 250 words or more, speculate how the five changes of the future ( fluid gigs, decentralized workforces, motivation to work,  lifelong learning, artificial intelligence) will impact the career you choose.  For example, if I choose the career of web developer, what would my career look like based on the five future changes in how we work?




In this section you will apply your learning to your professional situation. This course assumes that most participants are classroom teachers who have access to students. If you do not have a classroom available to you, please contact the instructor for course modifications. Assignments done in a course forum will show responses from all educators active in the course. Feel free to read and respond to others comments. 


Assignment #8: Applying the SAMR Model to our Digital Portfolios

Now that you have a solid (or solid enough) understanding of the SAMR model, let’s take this model and apply it to the idea of digital portfolios.


  1. Open your digital portfolio planning guide
  2. Complete the “SAMR Scale Using Digital Portfolios” matrix. (I have done one for us as an example It is in your digital portfolio guide.)
  3. Submit a link to your planning guide in the assignment box.


Assignment #9: Getting Started With a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

Often we think of the technical hurdles as the greatest challenge to creating good, digital portfolios. Surely it is a part of it and something we focus energy on. Thankfully once the technical challenges are resolved and your digital portfolio system is up and running, it is time to focus on how to use the portfolio; the content your students should start posting.

To get going, it is best to start with an MVP: Minimum Viable Product. This term comes from the EdTech startup world and is designed to help us just “get going” with our ideas and not research it too much. We don’t truly know what starting something like this will be like until we just do it… just a little.

Once we have that MVP, we can figure out where the strengths and challenges are and grow it even bigger!


  1. Set up all your students with whichever tool you decided to use.
  2. Have your students complete at least two portfolios additions and reflections using the expectations you set for them.
  3. Take screenshots or pictures (iPhone is fine) of a few of them
  4. Write a 250 or more word reflection on how it went.
    1. What were the strengths and successes?
    2. What are some challenges that need to be overcome?
    3. When will you share these portfolios with parents?
  5. Submit your reflection and screenshots in the assignment box.


Assignment #10: Book Review, the Role of Digital Citizenship

The book Digital Citizenship: A Community Based Approach  is a very concise and direct read explaining the basics of digital citizenship. It neatly defines digital citizenship and then helps us to share the idea with administrators, faculty, students, and parents.
I interviewed the author, Susan Bearden, in 2016 and really enjoyed her take on digital citizenship.  It compelled me to purchase her book and recommend it for this course.

Choose as many of the following suggested writing topics below as needed:

  1. Provide a general summary of the book.
  2. What portions of the book stood out for you?  Why?
  3. What portions of the book did you disagree with?  Why?
  4. What aspects of the book will you adopt?
  5. What do you wish the book had included, but did not?
  6. Would you recommend this book to a friend or colleague? If so, describe that friend or colleague.

Assignment #11: The Future of Digital Portfolios: Go Blue Sky

In the previous assignment you developed a plan for getting the digital portfolio system off the ground and moving forward. Just getting started and breaking through the initial barriers, (inertia) is about 75% of the battle. Now that you are through those barriers and have a plan, let’s bring out some blue sky thinking and imagine what is possible.
This is a tremendous amount of fun as it allows us to think of nearly any idea and helps us chart a plan toward that future.


  1. Read this blog post I wrote regarding the future of digital portfolios.
  2. Develop a 750, or more, word reflection on the future possibilities of digital portfolios.  Where would you like to take them in your current class and where do you think they can, or should be 5,10 or more years from now? Bring out some blue sky thinking and imagine what is possible.  It is ok to dream up fantastically outrageous ideas.
    1. What excites me (feel free to borrow if you like) for the future
      • Carry a portfolio from class to class so a student has a full 12 years of reflection
      • The power to reflect on your skills when applying for colleges
      • Developing a positive digital trail. We can’t control privacy anymore, but we can control the trail we leave behind.
      • Micro credentials
      • A reputation meter score and influencing that possible future reality
      • Using virtual reality as part of a digital portfolio



Assignment #12: (Required for 400 and 500 Level)

(Please do not write this paper until you've completed all of your other assignments)

Write a 350-500 word Integration Paper answering these 5 questions:

  1. What did you learn vs. what you expected to learn from this course?
  2. What aspects of the course were most helpful and why?
  3. What further knowledge and skills in this general area do you feel you need?
  4. How, when and where will you use what you have learned?
  5. How and with what other school or community members might you share what you learned?


Please indicate by email to the instructor if you would like to receive comments on your assignments.


Michael Boll is an Apple Distinguished Educator, Podcaster and Technology Coach at the International School Bangkok.. Michael enjoys helping educators, parents and students harness the transformative powers of technology. Michael is an enthusiastic instructional designer and presenter. He works to make his courses and presentations information packed, slightly provocative and fun. Michael has a teenage son with profound autism and is keenly interested in the special needs community and its population of diverse learners. This interest led Michael and his wife, Lori Boll, to open an innovative school in Shanghai ( for their son. 


DIGITAL PORTFOLIOS: A Place to Document, Share & Enrich Student Learning

Bearden, SusanDigital citizenship: a community-based approach.  Corwin/A SAGE Publishing Company, 2016, Print, 85 pages, ISBN 978-1483392653, 

Make responsible digital citizenship part of your school’s culture!

Use this book’s community-based approach to building digital citizenship to teach, learn, and thrive in today’s digital environment.  Expertly navigate the pitfalls of the digital world, take hold of the plethora of opportunities available to you, and confidently engage in online connections without fear!  Educators, parents, and students will discover how to:

  • Protect privacy and leave positive online footprints
  • Understand creative credits and copyright freedoms
  • Foster responsible digital behaviors through safe and secure practices
  • Enlist all stakeholders to help ingrain digital citizenship into the school culture