Why Are Portfolios, Authentic Audience and Publishing Important For Learning?

So here is a prime example of why publishing student work to the web is such a powerful motivator to do well. Below is a link to my Leading Edge Certification Admin class portfolio. This is the final assessment for an online class designed to introduce school administrators to social media and online learning. Those of you that know me might be asking yourselves, “but Andrew, aren’t you all over that stuff already?” and the answer would be yes. You see, thanks to my pal Danny Silva (iteachag) I thought I was signing up to become certified to teach the class. I didn’t realize I was going to actually have to take and pass an eight (8) week online class.

So being that I’m all over it, it should have been easy for me, right? Well yes and no and I’m going to tell you why. You see, I’m an adult learner (thank you Career Tech Ed credential classes!) and I value my time more than anything. Repeating things that I already do, know how to do or have done is not very high on my priority list. Unfortunately the majority of the course work was just that for me. Repedition and repeats. Now, I’m not knocking the coursework in any way. I think it is all incredibly important, valuable information and the exercises I found barely tolerable would be excellent (dare I say necessary) for Administrators that haven’t got a clue about online learning, web 2.0 or social media. For me, I was just trying to get through it without gouging my eyeballs out to punch the ticket and get the certification.

Since we were ostensibly going to be future trainers for the class, I really wish they could have tested us out somehow. Have a blog with a recent post, check. Co-host a podcast, check. Active on twitter, check. Developed Online Learning modules, check. Google Certified, check. Learning about how to use online tools, developing a vision for how technology and web 2.0 can influence and affect your organization, opening lines of communication, developing a professional development strategy that incorporates all these elements, it’s all great stuff. I’ve just been there, done that and honestly, I now find myself starting all over again at my new District. So my heart just wasn’t in the class. I wonder how many students feel the same way in their classes. The ones they didn’t get to opt into. Had we been tasked with discussing the course curriculum and run through each module with the task of commenting, suggesting and improving I think I would have found the whole process more relevant and meaningful.

Anyway, back to my portfolio. You see, it isn’t very good. I know how much, or how little, time I spent on each assignment. How frustrated I was with each piece. How unmotivated I was to complete things when Swimming or Gymnastics or even BMX Olympic coverage was on. (note to self: Don’t sign up for an online class when the Olympics are on.) (second note to self: Don’t offer an online course when the Olympics are on) For all of the assignments that I did complete I received passing grades. Am I proud of the work that I submitted? Not really. Do I want to publish my portfolio? Not really. If I was invested in the class, I’d want to spend another eight to ten hours minimum on it redoing some of the portfolio pieces. Am I going to? No. I haven’t even completed the reflection pieces yet because I was having such a very hard time honestly reflecting on the entire process. Which led me to start writing this blog post instead.

So I’m not sure where I stand with the LECAdmin Certification but I know that my heart wasn’t in it and that is reflected in my portfolio which I turned in just a bit ago. This entire experience makes me believe even more strongly that one of the best ways to assess student engagement and make learning authentic is to make them publish. Perhaps if I have been publishing my work all long in the process, I would have taken more care. Ok, probably not in this case but then again I was never very good in school. Maybe if it was just a bit more relevant…

You can view my LECAdmin Portfolio here.