Digital Portfolios in Music Education Part 2B

Welcome to part 2B of the series about digital portfolios in music.

In part 1 I covered the “what” and “why” of digital portfolios and gave an overview of the “how”.  We looked at the different types of digital artefacts  (video, audio, text and images) that might make up a portfolio and I went into more detail about the first two – video and audio – in part 2A .

In this installment, I’ll discuss some of the available options for creating text and images.

Text

Text-based artefacts can include essays, written responses,  definitions, song lyrics, and may also include hyperlinks to further reading or other support material.  Beyond the obvious choices for creating text – Microsoft Word or Apple’s Pages – students can also use:

The choice of software or app that students use to create text depends largely on the choice of software/app they will use to gather all of their digital portfolio artefacts together since most of those options have text-creation tools built into them.

Images

As discussed in part 1, there are numerous types of images that can be included in a digital portfolio, including photographs, screencaptures (screenshots), labelled diagrams, mind maps, flow charts, digital drawings, word clouds and many more.

Photographs – original

Photographs of students “in action” or of objects that are an integral part of their project can be created with the following:

  • DSLR camera or similar
  • Smartphone
  • iPad or Android Device
  • Laptop webcam

Photographs – existing

There are many websites that make available Public Domain or Creative Commons licensed photos that are suitable for students to use in their digital portfolios.  If you work with young students you might like to curate a selection of photos for them to use in their projects rather than send them searching for images themselves.

My favourite places to find images online are:

  • Pixabay – fantastic Public Domain images. The first place I visit for images
  • Compfight – a Flickr search tool that allows you to refine your options to Creative Commons licensed (avoid the stock photos advertised at the top of your search results and use the images in the lower part of the screen)
  • Unsplash – more artistic in style

Icons

Icons are just like digital stickers! They make a great addition to a digital portfolio since students can use them to communicate an idea or concept simply and cleanly.

Try the icons from The Noun Project. You can take a look at some of the music icons here.

Photo collages

There are times when it can be useful to combine a few pictures into one single collage.  Students can use:

Visual quotes

Students can quote a composer or music artist or even highlight an important point from an essay they’ve written with a visual quote.  To create a visual quote, simply take a photo (or search for an existing one), upload it into one of the image editors below and add some text over the top of the photo.  Three options for creating visual quotes:

  • Word Swag (iOS only) add text to photos using ready-made templates
  • Canva free online image editor
  • PicMonkey free online image editor

Word Clouds

Students can create an image based on a series of words they have been learning, or from the lyrics of a song by using a free word cloud generator.  Try:

Screencapture (image of your computer or iPad screen)

Taking a screencapture (also know as a screenshot or “print screen”) is an excellent way to capture something that has been created on a computer or iPad.  Methods of screencapture vary across platforms and some have their own in-built methods.

  • iPad or iPhone: hold down the power switch and home button simultaneously for a brief second. The image will end up on the Camera Roll
  • Android: hold down the power switch and volume button at the same time
  • Mac: hold down Command+Shift+3 to take a picture of the whole screen. Other options are explained here.
  • Windows: instructions for taking a screen capture can be found here.
  • Screencapture software: try Jing (free) which works on both Macs and PCs and allows you to add text, boxes and arrows to the image after it has been taken.

There are lots of other screencapture software and app options – too many to mention here!  It can be worth asking friends and colleagues for their favourites.

Editing images

There are times when you will need to crop photos, add text or borders or shapes, add a filter, clone or flip your images.

  • Canva is my own go-to choice for editing images
  • PicMonkey is another popular choice
  • The iPhone/Android inbuilt photos apps will do some basic editing
  • Handy Photo for iOs for iOS or Handy Photo for Android does some pretty cool stuff like removing people from a picture (it replaces the “gap” with background so effectively you would never know the person was there in the first place!) or making an image wider by cloning the background at the edges

Part 3 coming soon

In part 3 of Digital Portfolios in Music Education I’ll run through some of the options for gathering the digital artefacts together in one place – whether that’s on a Mac, PC, iPad or Android device.

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