Educational technology tips for teachers, librarians and schools.

Use Digital Portfolios to Foster An Authentic Writing Journey

Use Digital Portfolios to Foster An Authentic Writing Journey

By Nicole Long

As an educator, I often find myself reminiscing about past experiences in my classroom, former students, accomplishment, what I’d change, what I’d keep the same. If we, as teachers, are always reflecting on personal growth, and doing so with our peers and colleagues, why haven’t we fully embraced this process for our students?

A reflection or portfolio shouldn’t just be a private conversation between one teacher and one student. It should be a shared, collaborative experience amongst different teachers, content areas, and grade levels.

One way to achieve this goal is with a digital writing portfolio.

A digital portfolio is a collection of student writing samples, stored and published using a digital platform. These writing samples, or artifacts as I prefer to call them, are not necessarily limited to present or content-specific coursework. The benefit of creating a digital writing portfolio for your students is that you can embrace writing across curriculums, and over the span of weeks, months or years.

There’s an invaluable merit in providing students with an authentic opportunity to embrace, and witness, their personal growth, voice, style and strengths and weaknesses, across content areas and academic years.

Give your students a chance to write for an authentic audience and watch their own growth with digital portfolios. Here’s how.

What to include in a Digital Portfolio?

In addition to traditional writing samples (articles, essays, reports), students may wish to include non-writing samples, like digital stories, images and podcasts, or photographs of physical work, like a picture of a painting or drawing.

Portfolios make classroom learning a social experience because they provide a window into student learning and growth over a longer period of time, and in a more public domain. Instead of turning in a folder of writing samples, banished to the darker recesses of teacher planning rooms, digital portfolios allow students to shine light on their accomplishments and share them with the public domain.

In the end, your students will be able to look back at dozens of sample artifacts, and explore the evolution of how their voice and style are applied in different contexts.

There are many tools you can use to facilitate this collection of work. Here are my top 10 recommendations.

10 Tools for Digital Publishing

Google Drive

Google drive is a cloud-based app that allows teachers and students to create, store and share files and folders. Using Drive’s share ability, or an app like Google Classroom, teachers can have students create a portfolio folder to store their artifacts online. This folder can then be shared with any student or teacher.


Kidblog is a safe and secure blogging platform that teachers and students can use to post a final writing portfolio. With the use of hyperlinks, and the ability to add media or code, students can type their reflection and embed the artifacts.

Take advantage of title, tags, and category functions to make the portfolios easy to find when you want to share over social media or via email.


Wikispace is an online web platform that allows teachers and students to create and share pages. Teachers can use Wikispace Classroom to build a template for students to add digital portfolios to or have students create their own individual Wikispace portfolio pages.


Weebly is an online website builder that allows students to create individual websites to represent their portfolio, adding colorful pages, sections or descriptions make it their own. Weebly supports various types of media, including links, files, videos and HTML code. Teachers can also design one site for the class and assign pages to individual students.


Symbaloo is an online bookmarking tool for creating and sharing resources. Students can upload links or documents to Symbaloo, which allows them to share it publicly or embed it into another website. Encourage students be creative and choose icon colors to label types of artifacts, like images, videos, essays or artifacts from a different course or years.


Dropr is an online, digital portfolio builder that automatically creates sections and pages for students to work with. It also allows you to add content from connected platforms or hyperlinked text. You can also simply upload the file—and any type of file is supported.

Google Sites

Google Sites allows teachers create a digital portfolio page for individual students or a whole class. The diversity of Google Sites allows teachers to put all of their materials in one location and share everything easily.

For example, you can build a home page with instructions or assignment requirements, examples, and individual class pages or student sub pages. Keeping it all in one place makes it easy for you to maintain and publish new content.


Thinglink is an interactive, social web app that allows teachers or students to create images with embedded hyperlinks or text. Students can use Thinglink to create a visual, artistic digital writing portfolio by choosing an image of significance to serve as the backdrop and then embedding “tags” that link to artifacts. Descriptions can be typed directly on the tag or come with the artifact.


Silk is a free service for creating web pages organized around central topics. Silk is intended to be a place where you can share collections of materials as well as write text directly into your web pages. Your collections can include documents, videos, images and links to other sites. Teachers have the ability to create one page for a whole group or let students create their own individual sites.


Livebinder is an online tool that allows students and teachers to create digital collections in the style of a physical binder. Students can embed resources or web pages using tabs and subtabs.

This feature allows teachers to decide whether they want to create a binder for each individual student or have one for the entire class, with a tab for each student. With the ability to make collections, or bookshelves, Livebinder makes it easy to share digital portfolios socially.

Whatever platform you choose, remind students to embrace this display of individual growth. These intricate, deeply personal mementos of student achievement take time to pool together, but the end result is a reaffirmed sense of accountability and ownership of learning and writing objectives over a period of time.


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