Online Portfolios

The use of online portfolios in instructional settings have demonstrated improved student grades, the communication of ideas to teachers, and their overall learning experience.  Studies done by Van Aalst and Chan (2007), Bartlett and Sherry (2006), and Johnson (2006) have looked at the connections between the content in student online portfolios and the experiences students have in instructional settings.  All the studies found most students reported an overall better experience in the classes that used online portfolios. 

Van Aalst and Chan’s (2007) study looked at the students’ online portfolios to see the connections between collective learning and the students’ ability to critique their own collborative process.  Van Aalst and Chan found the online portfolios enhanced students’ understanding of concepts and allowed them to to characterize their collective knowledge.  Van Aalst and Chan’s study showed through the creation of online portfolios students were able to enhance their learning experience in the classroom.  The students finished the class with a clear understanding of what it meant to work collaberativly, and a better understanding of class concepts (Van Aalst & Chan, 2007).

Bartlett and Sherry’s (2006) study also found most students had a better learning experience when online portfolios were used in the classroom.  The study done by Bartlett and Sherry looked at students in the graduate and undergraduate level who  completed  online porfolios.  The students completed a survey to determine what their experience in the class was like compared to the content in their online portfolios.  The graduate students who received more postive feedback from their peers and instructors and reported being more happy with their final result (Bartlett & Sherry, 2006).  The undergraduate students had less positive feedback and report being less satisfied with the final outcome of their online portfolio (Bartlett & Sherry, 2006).  The graduate students had a stronger technological background and reported having a overall better learning experience than the undergraduate students (Bartlett & Sherry, 2006). 

Johnson’s (2006) study found online portfolios enhanced students learning capabilities as Bartlett and Sherry’s (2006) and Aalst and Chan’s (2007) studies discovered.  Johnson’s (2006) study specifically looked at the content of student portfolios over ten years.  This study did not look at the students’ overall learning experience, but instead compared the content in the portfolios to the students’ grade and complete portfolio score (Johnson, 2006).  Johnson (2006) found students’ portfolio content improved over time and grades raised.  As students became more proficient with technology the online portfolios enhanced their learning experience.  This resulted in higher grades and portfolio scores. 

Online portfolios were improved the quality of the classes and the students’ experience in Van Aalst and Chan’s (2007), Bartlett and Sherry’s (2006), and Johnson’s (2006) studies.    Students’ grades improved through the use of online portfolios because their proficiency in technology improved.  Online portfolios allowed students to clearly communicate their ideas by organizing them by using technology.  Finally the overall learning experience of the students improved because the use of online portfolios made the learning experience well rounded.

The Importance of Email

Email has accomplished many different positive things in the classroom to promote more effective learning.  Email improved the quality of the class and the students’ experience of the class.   Three studies done by Woods (2002), Peek, Peek, Roxas, Robichaud, and Blanco (2007) and Newman (2007) examine the importance of email use within the classroom.   Email can  be used in the classroom to improve student’s perceptions of teachers.  Email has given students different perspectives on ethnic discussions.  Finally the use of email in the classroom has prepared students to use email in the working world.

Woods’ (2002)  study examined the use of email between students and teachers as a way to improve student perceptions of the teachers.  Woods’ study showed only a few students perceptions of the class improved through the use of frequent teacher emails.  However the use of email did not hinder the positive perceptions of the students (Woods, 2002).  The frequency of emails did not effect the students’ pereceptions of the class but perhaps the content of the email would be a more important factor to study for student perceptions. 

Peek, Peek, Roxas, Robichaud, and Blanco’s (2007) study looked at the effectiveness of email discussions about ethics.  The email discussions gave the students new perspectives on the subject (Peek, Peek, Roxas, Robichaud, & Blanco, 2007).  A pre-test and a post-test were given to the students, prior and after the emailed discussions.  The students had significant differences in their answers during the post-test because they gained new perspectives on the topic (Peek, Peek, Roxas, Robichaud, & Blanco, 2007).  The emailed discussions were an effective way to open the students up to ideas different from their own.  The online discussions also gave them a well-rounded perspective on the topic.

Newman’s (2007) study looked at the importance of learning email in the classroom so that students would have the ability to use it in the workplace.  The content of the students’ emails was specifically examined.  The content is the most important part of the email because it has the ability to convey messages that were not intended.  Technology based stimulations of email were used to allow the students to effectively practice their email techniques (Newman, 2007).   This improved the students’ proficiency in their use of email (Newman, 2007).  Newman’s research proved students must have proficient email writing techniques to be considered more hirable in the work world.  This shows it is important to use email in the classroom to expose students to the technology they will be required to know in the workplace. 

All the three studies about email showed email had a positive effect on the classroom.  Instructor emails allowed students to feel more connected with their teachers (Woods, 2002).  The use of emails in discussions allowed students to gain new perspectives on ethics, which shows email discussions could open students up to new perspectives in other areas (Peek, Peek, Roxas, Robichaud, & Blanco, 2007).  Finally the use of email in the classroom has effectively prepared students to use email in the workplace (Newman, 2007).