Sunday, April 25, 2010

Next Step: Reaching Authentic Audiences via Digital Writing Portfolios

Students in my creative writing class recently worked on a collaborative whole-class story (see prior blog posts to find out about the planning/writing process via Google Apps).  Sixteen students submitted plot ideas, developed a detailed outline, wrote an 8-page story, and revised and edited their work together.  Written collaboration on such a large scale was not an easy feat and took a good amount of time.  However, most students agreed that they revised more than they would typically revise an individual writing assignment and the final product was better than they expected.

I was inspired to help students get more recognition for their work and I hoped that they could reach authentic audiences by developing digital portfolios.  Will Richardson's "Footprints in a Digital Age" helped me draft letters to parents that encouraged them to teach their children how to begin to build networking skills and academic portfolios via online spaces.  I then sent letters home to parents that commended students' excellent work and asked for their parents' permission to publish a digital portfolios by using Google Apps for Education.  All sixteen students received permission from their parents to publish their websites.

Below is the Twitter post I wrote to help students get readership:
Please Read & Comment: 16 students + 3 computers=Short Story and planning

Initially, I think that some students believed that creating digital portfolios was merely an assignment that I asked them to do because I like technology.  However, at the bottom of the website, I embedded a form for comments on the story and I shared the spreadsheet results with students.

Students' ability to access feedback on their writing from audiences all over the world changed thier perceptions of the online portfolios.  Most students started to post more of the writing pieces on their individual sites and improved the overall appearance of their websites.  They even edited the settings of the feedback form so that they would receive email notifications when someone posted a new comment.  

Throughout the process, I tried to model the ways I work to reach authentic audiences.  I showed students how I posted the comment on Twitter and sent emails to colleagues who I thought would be interested in the work.  Even if creative writing is not their key interest, I distributed copies of Will Richardson's article so that they could imagine ways the process could benefit their personal interests.  

My class is still looking for more ways to expand their readership and to find venues that publish student writing.  If anyone could recommend where my students could submit their story, my class would greatly appreciate it. 


  1. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  2. Hi there,

    Isn't it great when students can actually see people from other countries are reading what they're writing.
    Great post!!


    Henrick Oprea