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Virtual Learning Portfolio

Pamela G. Taylor, Ph.D.
Chair and Associate Professor
Department of Art Education
Graduate Students
A. Brooks Hollar, Computer Science and Katie R. Helms, Art Education


Virtual Learning Portfolio is a project designed to assist students in both tracking and expanding their learning experiences in school in an interactive computer format. This project is based on a 2-year study with high school art students in which they based all of the work they did in the art class in a virtual hypertext portfolio on the computer. Using the software Storyspace, students created boxes in which they placed images of art they studied, maps, places, and photographs as well as images of their own art and sketches. They also created boxes that contained researched information, notes from class, comments from class peers, video clips, ideas from other classes, music, and other information they felt could be linked or applied to what they were learning in the art class. They then created links (depicted with lines and arrows) between the boxes and between specific areas (parts of images, phrases and words). The resulting files became dizzying maps or intricate webs of their learning experience. In order to make this portfolio application more user-friendly. Dr. Taylor is working to create an interactive environment or web interface that can store students’ uploaded data on a local server that can be accessed by the student and/or teacher throughout the semester. A long-range goal is to transfer this information into a national assessment tool. Through the CTE grant, Dr. Taylor and graduate students Brooks Hollar and Katie Helms have been able to work on the first phase of the project - focused on creating a user-friendly web interface that partners teachers and students in the creation, exploration and review of student work.

Specifically, through funds supplied by the CTE grant, we have been able to:

  1. Fund graduate students Brooks Hollar (Computer Science) and Katie Helms (Art Education) to begin development of an interface to:
    • Provide students an environment to build a collection of multi-media resources.
    • Allow students to link resources to other resources and/or external web documents.
    • Enable teachers to review student VLPs.
    • Provide teachers with the means to assess VLPs with rubrics.
    • Make VLP accessible to a wide range of teacher/students by maximizing (and focusing on) ease of use.
    • Allow students to associate tags with resources.
    • The system should be cross-platform and web-based.
    • Align SOL requirements with tags.
    • Allow teachers to observe/identify themes in a VLP.
    • Allow teachers to create templates and place them into VLPs for a given course.

    As of the end of August, much progress has been made.  The base system is functional. Students can create portfolios by uploading data, items can be linked to each other as well as to web pages, and students can attach tags to any item.  The teacher’s side of the application is currently under development.  The planned delivery date for this phase is the end of September 2006.

    During the summer, Katie Helms and A. Brooks Hollar worked closely together to clearly outline the requirements of the system and to make sure that it meets the requirement of being sufficiently user-friendly. In the first meeting, the above goals were defined, which led to a list of requirements for both the students and the teachers who would be using the final system.  Katie then gave input to aid in the prioritization of the requirements.  In subsequent meetings, Katie performed tasks following a script and used the system as though she were a student, while Brooks recorded her comments and any problems encountered.  Once this user test was completed, the goals and requirements were refined as needed and the next set of implementation features were decided upon.  The problems and concerns that were discovered and corrected during these development meetings have made the system very straightforward and easy to use. 

    After this phase of the VLP project is completed, there will still be much work to be accomplished.  Dr. Taylor is interested in creating a three-dimensional, interactive user interface to replace the current web interface.  Such changes to the interface will require another team of developers.  The current system was created so that the database can be reused in future generations of the system.

  2. CTE Grant funds were used to assist Dr. Taylor’s attendance and presentation “Hyperaesthetics, Art and Art Education in a Technomediated World” at The Fifth IASTED (International Association of Science and Technology for Development) International Conference on WEB-BASED EDUCATION in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, January 23-25, 2006. As keyboards replace chalkboards, the Web’s impact on traditional educational theories and practices are increasingly apparent. It has transformed and expanded the conventional boundaries of education. Dr. Taylor presented the ways this new technology has challenged and changed both what we determine as and how we approach visual art and education. Colleagues from approximately 50 countries attended the conference and Dr. Taylor came back with many important contacts for the VLP project.


Although there is still much work to do on this project, The CTE grant enabled us to get the start we needed in developing what we believe is an exciting, new way for students to create inter-linked, digital, multi-media portfolios that can be reviewed and commented on by their peers and teachers.  Although being developed specifically for Art Education programs, the application of a system like this, which allows for centralized storage, linking and reporting of SOL requirements as well as interactivity of students and teachers may be applicable to all other areas in education.

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Last modified: June 20, 2013
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