Who owns the ePortfolio?

When reviewing the topic for this week’s class discussion, I will be the first to admit that it seemed to be somewhat cut and dry. Who owns the ePortfolio? Well, if it’s my portfolio, of course I own it, right? However, these articles brought out a much deeper meaning of what ownership truly entails. There were so many eye-opening ideas this week, and here are just a few that truly caught my attention.

1)  “Students have little agency when it comes to education technology — much like they have little agency in education itself.” -Rikard

As a strong advocate for EdTech, this was a pretty bold assertion. It took me several minutes to work through. I feel the purpose of EdTech is to provide the students agency, so how is it not doing just that? However, when I reflected on this, I realized that it is providing an alternative to traditional methods, which can often appear as agency. In actuality, it can simply mask traditional methods behind bells, whistles, and computers. When you really look closely, you realize that the only part of EdTech that student truly have agency over is the effort they put into using it. When properly “owned”, students have complete agency over every single thing they create.

2) “…it is important to have one’s own space in order to develop one’s ideas and one’s craft.”- Rickard

Much like this particular course, it is imperative to provide students the space they need to “grow” their brains. So much of what we do in schools is built around a schedule, an specifically formatted activity, or a designed learning outcome. Providing students with ownership of a domain is much like handing an artist a blank slate and allowing them to work freely. Not only are students going to have to reflect upon each nuance of their domain, but they are going to be actively involved in their own education. They are free to chase their dreams, leaving a solid trail of the hard work and thought that goes into reaching their goals. Creation of one’s own domain would give students a much higher understanding of what it means to leave a digital footprint and would spawn wonderful moments of collaboration with peers as they attempt to make the most of these “teachable moments”. As the articles referenced, it truly makes students the “subjects” of their learning.

3) “Often when schools talk to students about their presence on the Web, they do so in terms of digital citizenship: what students need to know in order to use technology “appropriately.” Schools routinely caution students about the things they post on social media, and the tenor of this conversation — particularly as translated by the media — is often tinged with fears that students will be seen “doing bad things” or “saying bad things” that will haunt them forever. ”

I truly believe that the words “digital citizenship” have become dirty words in the media. People view this concept as a type of censorship or a term that seeks to limit student interaction to the “real world”. I do not share this view. Citizenship is trait that we work hard to develop in Elementary Schools. We model what it looks like, ask our students to model good citizenship and bad citizenship, and we aim to make it autonomous with students. So often our society asks “What is wrong with kids these days?” or make comments that begin with “When I was growing up…” Children today have access to so many more things starting at a much younger age. They often know how to accurately use technology before they can even write their own names. I believe that digital citizenship, when taught correctly, is meant to inform and prepare students to be responsible members of the online community. The skills they learn through digital citizenship activities will help them to truly own their content and collaborate with others in a way that will maximize the learning experience. When taught properly, digital citizenship will foster student voice, promote stronger ownership, and allow for deeper authentic learning.

4) “Templates and training wheels may be necessary for a while, but by the time students get to college, those aids all too regularly turn into hindrances. For students who have relied on these aids, the freedom to explore and create is the last thing on their minds.”- Gardner Campbell

I feel as though this quote describes so many of us as we came into this program. We have been following a prescribed path for so long that not having a clear-cut course was very difficult. We’ve relied on a certain give and take in courses, and have so many options feels overwhelming and “wrong”. However, I do think that having the myriad of options has been such a blessing for us all, as I’ve noticed how much we’ve changed in such a short time. I like to think about what I would do with students who came to me already having started such a process and what I would to do to help them along the path. I would naturally have to take on the role of mentor and partner in learning, rather than facilitator of information.

It’s true that ownership means many different things to many different people. While I’m not completely sure where I fall on the issue, I do know that I will have complete ownership of my journey!

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