Many primary schools are introducing ePortfolios as a Digital Learning tool to support the formative and summative assessment practices used in the school. A number of different platforms are currently being used in primary and post primary schools including G Suite for Education/Google Classroom, Edmodo, Schoolology, Mahara, Seesaw, iTunes U and Office 365’s One Note – Class Notebook. We have been researching some of these platforms to introduce an ePortfolio pilot with our third classes after the Easter break. All of these platforms offer free access to their platform, some also offer a premium access for an additional subscription which gives pupils, teachers and schools additional paid for features. When reviewing these platforms to choose the most suitable one we have a few requirements:
- must be easy to use for pupils aged 8 years old entering into third class.
- must support tablet use for adding photos of exemplars of pupil work in all subjects – e.g. Visual Arts, examples of great work from copy book, workbook or worksheet and showcase to a wider audience in the classroom or at home.
- pupils can reflect on an artefact and receive positive evaluative feedback from teacher/parent.
- preferably will be free as it is hoped following our pilot that it will be rolled out throughout the school in 2019/2020 school year with pupils adding to their ePortfolio annually during their time in school.
A widely used platform used in primary schools is Seesaw – www.seesaw.me. One reason for this is that PDST – Technology in Education have referenced Seesaw in a feature on ePortfolios on Scoilnet, in an In Touch article and in one of their own summer courses – ePortfolios and Assessment. Seesaw therefore was the first platform that we considered.
Seesaw can be used for digitally storing a portfolio of pupil learning that can be shared with peers, teacher(s) and parent and also as a communications tool between parents and teachers depending on how the teacher configures his/her setup.
Advantages and benefits of Seesaw –
- simple to login to the Seesaw portal, either scan QR code or sign in with an account and password.
- pupils can upload photos or videos, create their own drawings, add annotations to reflect on learning, voice recorder tool that will record up to 5 minutes audio.
- keeps a record of all pupil work in one place, no more searching devices for an individual pupil’s work.
- pupils can showcase their work at home with family members giving them an audience for learning.
- teachers can easily, safely and securely sign up for a free or paid account on www.seesaw.me and get started using Seesaw in a few minutes.
- add and remove pupils to their class, add co-teachers.
- teachers can approve items uploaded by pupils, offer reflective feedback to pupils before they are shared with parents and family.
- teachers can access Seesaw very easily from smartphones, tablets or from a browser. Apps are available on the iTunes and Google Play stores.
- teachers can setup personalised communications with parents to communicate via parent app, text message or email.
- parents can be more connected with their child’s learning and classroom
- parents only receive updates and access to their own child’s learning journal
- parents can access Seesaw using the Parent app (Apple IOS or Google Play) and/or browser for web access
Comparison between Seesaw, Seesaw Plus and Seesaw for Schools
- Basic account is free, Seesaw Plus costs $120 per year and Seesaw for Schools costs from $5 per pupil per year. In the case of our school annual cost of Seesaw for Schools $1,375 approx. €1250 – €1300. Annual financing is a major concern.
- Number of co-teachers that can be added to a class (SET teacher, EAL etc.) varies between 2 and 20.
- Number of classes per teacher varies between 10 and 100.
- Seesaw Plus and Seesaw for Schools have option of a space for recording Teacher’s private posts that are only visible to teachers and recording notes on student work.
- Seesaw for Schools only has the ability for student portfolios to follow them from class to class throughout their time in the school.
Further details on a comparison of each of the three product versions can be found here
Verdict: Seesaw is easy to use and suitable platform for ePortfolios. However unless we purchase a school subscription at an annual cost of €1250 it doesn’t meet a significant requirement for our school with pupils adding to their ePortfolio annually during their time in the school.