I am happy to report that digital portfolios using Glogster have been going quite well so far. Recall that I am interested in the problem of student ownership of their portfolios. I have been trying to see if students are interested in maintaining portfolio items on their own.
To this end, I surveyed the kids (big surprise). I also monitored their on- and off-task behaviour during 4 computer sessions. Finally, I checked their glogs regularly for the type of work students completed on their own.
I was curious about what they thought of Glogster, whether or not they have worked on specific reflective assignments on their own and whether or not they would rather use their journal for reflecting on their learning. What I discovered was that the majority of students (20 out of 30) worked on assignment pages when they weren’t even assigned them for homework. This surprised me.
Only 3 out of the 30 students preferred their journal over Glogster. 8 out of 30 liked them both equally as well. Those who preferred Glogster for reflective writing sited reasons such as:
- They found it easier to write on computers (4)
- They preferred online environments (2)
- They found it more fun (8)
- It made their work neater and more organized (2)
- They enjoyed the graphics (7)
These are all reasons they volunteered. They did not choose any from a list.
When I observed student on- or off-task behaviour, I found that the majority of students (24/30) stayed on task, writing and working to complete their reflections with little or no intervention by me. These numbers did not significantly change over the course of the study. Unfortunately, the students who have the greatest writing needs always found it difficult to stay focused during their independent reflection time. 4 out of 30 never successfully completed an assignment.
Most off-task behaviour was related to wait time. Students engaged in talking or exploring online while they waited for login to occur or while they waited for the computer to complete steps such as uploading photos or text objects.
All students, without exception, created their backgrounds and uploaded photos prior to writing. I found that students spent most of their school time on graphics. In contrast, students spent the vast majority of their journal time on writing. They were supplied with photos (which took a couple of minutes to glue into their journals) and were allowed to decorate their pages. All students fully complete a journal entry per week and have completed 5 journal entries since the start of the study. Many still have yet to complete a full reflective entry on Glogster.
The difference in completion rates has a lot to do with their access to technology over the course of the week. I give the students daily time on journals, but supply only one computer block for completing Glogster work. I also allow students to use Glogster in their spare time once work has been completed on occasion.
Checking Their Work:
Even though most students (20/30) reported that they have worked on assignments in their own time, I found evidence that only 13 of 95 glogs on the “new glogs from classmates” scroll list were related to school work.
The quality of their work varied. I noticed an increase in the quality of the work from two male students. Specifically, their writing was more detailed, interesting and accurate when they used Glogster in comparison to their journal. Most students wrote less on Glogster, although their work looked more interesting. I noticed a decrease in the accuracy of work from 4 students, even though 1 of the four thought his work was tidier and more organized when he used a computer. However, the quality of writing is beyond the scope of this field study.
I found that all students really enjoy Glogster, although a minority (3/30) still prefer to use their journals. I also discovered that most activity on Glogster is related to setting up and decorating pages with graphics and photos. Most students stay on task during Glogster work, although most students complete more writing on paper than they do on Glogster. Even though most students claimed that they worked on assignment away from school without being asked, the vast majority of independent work (82/95 glogs) were just for fun.
These are still early days for implementing digital portfolios. I really like the Glogster platform for all of the same reasons that the students do. I love that students can document their experiences and learning through a range of media (drawings, photos, video, writing). I am still learning to structure the time I give students to work on their glogs. I am developing routines that will ensure, over time, that students are able to have enough access to computers that they have a chance to complete work in good time.