digital portfolios

Digital Portfolios in Music Education

Updated September 2019

In this three-part series about digital portfolios in music education, we’ll cover:

  • what they are
  • why you and your students will benefit from using them
  • how to put one together

Part 1 will examine the “what” and “why” and an overview of the “how”, with examples of all the pieces that might make up a digital portfolio.

In Part 2, we’ll get stuck into the options for creating the artefacts that make up a digital portfolio, using software, apps and other resources you probably have access to already.

In Part 3 we’ll cover the ways your students can collect and publish their digital artefacts.

The parts in this series:

What is a digital portfolio?

A digital portfolio is a collection of student work over time.  

The portfolio contains digital artefacts which demonstrate evidence of learning and can represent a single unit of work, project or assignment or encompass a distillation of their best work over a longer period of time.

Digital portfolios are usually curated by the student themselves and include work in multiple formats including text, hyperlinks, video, images and audio files.

Why go digital?

One of the best things about presenting work in a digital format is the opportunity to include rich forms of media, such as video and audio files which makes them ideal for music classes. 

Digital portfolios are also more readily accessible to a wider audience including teachers, parents, family, other students and people outside the immediate school community, especially if they are made available online.  It’s also possible to duplicate the work and present it in more than one way, for different purposes, or for multiple types of portfolios.

How can my students create digital portfolios in music class?

To create digital portfolios, two things are needed:

  1. A collection of digital artefacts
  2. A central place to collect and publish the artefacts

Step 1: create digital artefacts

Digital artefacts can take the following form:

  • Video
  • Audio
  • Text
  • Images

Video

Video can capture a wide variety of evidence in music classes. Options include recordings of a performance, a digital composition, a rehearsal, analysis of a musical work, a description of a process, an explanation or tutorial, a video showing a physical artefact, or an original film score.

Examples:

  • A video of a student performing the 12 bar blues on ukulele or guitar
  • A video of a student singing a song they have composed
  • A video of a student performing their band part
  • A video of a student describing the process of how to set up a PA
  • A video of a student verbally describing the structure of a piece of music, while the piece plays
  • A video of a student performing rhythmic ear-training exercises
  • A movie clip with an original soundtrack composed by the student
  • A video game clip with original music composed by the student
  • A video recording of a slide show presentation about music in the Romantic period

Audio

Audio files can include recordings of a playing test, a performance, a composition created in notation software, a verbal analysis of a musical work, or a description of a process. It’s similar to video, but just without the visuals!

Examples:

  • An audio recording of a student performance of the 12 bar blues
  • An audio recording of a student performing a playing test
  • An audio recording of a student performing their own original pop song
  • An audio recording of a student verbally describing the process of how to set up a PA
  • An audio recording of a student verbally describing the structure of a piece of music
  • An audio recording of a student performing rhythmic ear-training exercises
  • An mp3 of a mixed-down composition created in GarageBand, Soundtrap, Bandlab, Mixcraft, Soundation, Logic or Pro Tools etc

Text

Text-based artefacts can include essays, written responses, word definitions, chord charts, or song lyrics and can also include hyperlinks to further reading, research evidence or other support material.

Examples:

  • An essay about the history of remixing
  • A written listening response to Peter and the Wolf
  • Song lyrics for an original pop song
  • A chord chart for for the 12 bar blues
  • A concert review
  • A musical glossary of definitions for musical terms that have been covered during class time
  • An inspirational quote

Images

Images go beyond simple photographs.  Photos of students “in action” are a useful part of a digital portfolio, but there are many other image types, including screencaptures (also known as screenshots), labelled diagrams, mind maps, flow charts, digital drawings, graphic organisers and many more.

Examples:

  • A photograph of the student performing their instrument in a concert
  • A diagram of a mixing desk with the parts labelled
  • An iPad screencapture image of Track View in the GarageBand app
  • Screencapture image of a sound effects story created in Soundtrap
  • A digital drawing showing a graphic representation of a melodic contour
  • Screencapture image of a score (or part of a score) created in notation software
  • A word cloud of music terms 
  • A flow chart representing common chord sequences in popular music
  • An image of the cycle of fifths
  • Pictures or shapes to represent noteheads in a beginning notation activity for young students
  • An inspirational quote created in Canva, Word Swag or Adobe Spark Post
  • A photo collage of “my favourite music things”

Step 2: Collect and publish the digital artefacts

Once your students have gathered all the artefacts that demonstrate their learning, they’ll need to present them in a single location, in an organised, coherent way.  

Once again there are a number of choices available, but ultimately the best options are able to incorporate all (or most) of the digital artefact mediums discussed above: video, audio, text and images.

Options include:

  • A student-created website
  • Your school’s learning management system (LMS)
  • Presentation software
  • Interactive software and apps

Part 3 will cover publishing options in more detail.

In Part 2

In part 2A and B, of Digital Portfolios in Music Education I’ll be discussing some of the software, apps  and other tools you and your students can use to create each of the digital artefacts types mentioned.

Other parts in this series:

 

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