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  • Wednesday, 28 December 2011

    Visual Art online portfolio requirements and selection criteria.

    Written for South African Visual Arts educators and decision-makers.

    Eight requirements for optimal online portfolio adoption
    My research into online portfolio software use in two secondary schools suggests that there are eight key requirements to meet before a school's Visual Arts educator(s) can optimally adopt online portfolios into a grade's syllabus:
    1. School management and Visual Arts department educators' buy-in; 
    2. Appropriate computer access for learners;
    3. Sufficient availability of scanners, cameras and other peripherals at school for learners or their educator to digitize analogue artworks;
    4. Reliable access to online portfolio websites and related Web2.0 services;
    5. Sufficient broadband to support upload of digitized artworks;
    6. Supportive Information Communication Technology (ICT) school policies;
    7. In-class support: ideally from a support teacher AND a technician;
    8. Student interest to enable the successful co-adoption of online portfolios.
    The extent of these resourcing requirements suggest that curricular advisers and other national or provincial decision makers should initially focus on supporting adoptions at well-resourced private and public schools. Learnings from these environments can then be used for adoptions in more challenging, under-resourced environments.

    Ten criteria for online portfolio software selection

    Once a school's Visual arts educator(s) are confident that these requirements can be met, they need to choose an online portfolio software that is appropriate to their, their school's and students' needs.

    At a one-laptop-per-learner, private school its Visual Arts department head reviewed several online portfolio options, before choosing CarbonmadeThis service was chosen, as it met ten criteria:

    1. It is free; there are no software costs to the school as learners do not need more than 35 images for a showcase electronic learning portfolio (e-portfolio);
    2. With sufficient broadband, online portfolio publication is easy to do, and teach;
    3. "Carbonmade" is a school-friendly brand name (when compared to Deviantart, for example);
    4. The service does not feature inappropriate content; violent, pornographic, racist or misogynistic content is not promoted;
    5. The service is popular and has featured portfolios that can be easily referenced as examples of best use of the new cultural form;
    6. A variety of creative professionals use the service; students can follow the examples of most interest to them in preparation for tertiary education, work or hobby opportunities;
    7. The service offers a real world experience of the online portfolio publication and students may derive benefit from being on a platform for creative professionals;
    8. With its large user base, the freemium service is likely to be sustainable
    9. The service's legal agreement respects the learners’ copyright;
    10. Unlike services, such as Deviantart and Behance, Carbonmade does not afford any social networking functionality. However, limited interaction was viewed as positive by the educator. He perceived that there was a potential for inappropriate feedback by grade 10 students as he believed they were not emotionally mature enough to give constructive criticism.
    Subsequently, Carbonmade was approved for use at a relatively well-resourced public school by the Visual Arts curricular advisers of the Department of Education. This suggests that these ten criteria have broader relevance than an elite private school.

    Your thoughts?
    Do these eight requirements and ten criteria resonate with your experience? Are there any others that I should add? Kindly share your thoughts with my readers in the comment box below.

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