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Digital Portfolios

Teachers Teaching Teachers #198 - David Niguidula and Bill Fitzgerald Give New Life to Digital Portfolios - 04.28.10


70:09 minutes (16.05 MB)

We asked two of our favorite software developers/consultants/activists/dreamers, Bill Fitzgerald and David Niguidula to talk to us about digital portfolios on this episode of Teachers Teaching Teachers.


Bill Fitzgerald and FunnyMonkey

At an Educon 2.1 session in January, Bill Fitzgerald showed us a Durpal-based digital portfolio system that he and his colleagues at FunnyMonkey had been developing. As always with Bill, it was more than a software demonstration. With this project, he is leading us in a process of “Rethinking Portfolios.”

The promise of the portfolio is that the demonstration of learning remains as close as possible to the process of learning, while allowing individual elements of the learning process to be highlighted and discussed as part of evaluation. This type of assessment creates a nuanced picture of how a person is developing as a learner.

Portfolios have been around for a while, yet they are still largely viewed as an “alternative” means of assessment. What are some of the barriers for adoption that exist? What are the arguments against using portfolios?

When used effectively as part of ongoing professional development:]

  • A teaching portfolio shows what and how a teacher is teaching;
  • In conjunction with a student portfolio, organic ties can be made between student learning and the role of the teach
  • The process of creating a teacher portfolio accomplishes (at least) two things
  1. it transforms curriculum development from an individual endeavor into a community endeavor; and
  2. after maintaining a teacher portfolio for one year, a teacher will have created a fully portable outline of their entire course, which has the potential to eliminate the need for a textbook.

We were happy the opportunity in this podcst to learn more about FunnyMonkey’s Digital Portfolio project.

David Niguidula and Richer Picture


Fifteen years ago, Paul Allison and Shantanu Saha were working at University Heights Secondary School in the Bronx when we had the opportunity to begin building a digital portfolio for our school. David Niguidula was the leader of this project with the Coalition of Essential Schools. That project was a life changer for both Paul and Shantanu. It was the experience with technology that would put each of us on our own journeys into educational technology that continue today. Occasionally our paths meet up. Both Shantanu’s and Paul’s students work on Youth Voices, a Drupal site developed by Bill Fitzgerald.

We were excited to have this opportunity to catch up with David Niguidula! This is how his site describes their work:

Richer Picture® products and services help schools use technology to personalize teaching and learning. Our digital portfolios provide a new way for your students to show that they are meeting standards — while celebrating who they are as individual learners.

We have the most extensive experience in developing and implementing electronic portfolios in K-12 schools. In the 1990’s, Ideas Consulting Founder David Niguidula led the first research project on digital portfolios while at the Coalition of Essential Schools. Since then, we have accumulated over a dozen years of experience working in elementary, middle, and high schools across the country and around the world.

We provide both technology tools and the professional development to help you use them effectively. Our software is customized for your school and is designed to fit your needs. Our professional development goes far beyond learning how to use the tools; we help your staff address the essential questions of assessment and school change.

These tandem descriptions made us wonder if these two guys had ever met before. Well, they didl meet, on this episode of Teachers Teaching Teachers. Enjoy!

Click Read more to see a copy of the chat that was happening during the webcast.

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