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IT Connect

Information technology tools and resources at the UW

Online Portfolios: Practical Tips for Teaching

This guide outlines practical tips you may find helpful as you set up a portfolio project.

Creating and Distributing E-Portfolios

The Portfolio tool offers three options for portfolio creation:

  • Instructors, advisers, or mentors can design model Google Site portfolios that students copy and modify to suit their needs.
  • Students can create their own portfolios.

Design a Model E-Portfolio

In this option, the instructor designs a model e-portfolio and allows students to copy the site to their own UW Google Site accounts. Instructors may choose whether or not they want students to be able to see each others’ e-portfolios for peer review.


  • This option allows students to build a portfolio using the instructor’s model as an example. It does not require that all students use the same structured portfolio.
  • Students can make multiple copies of the model portfolio, enabling students to create, for example, several career portfolios for different jobs.


  • Working off a model may limit the diversity/creativity of the students.

Have students Create Their Own Portfolio

In this option, students design their own Google Sites e-portfolio. Students share their work with the instructor by submitting their Google Site URL to the course CommonView page.


  • Gives students maximum control over the structure and design of their portfolios. All aspects of the design reflect students’ individual performance in regard to the assignment.
  • Does not require the instructor to design a portfolio.


  • Individual differences in creativity and design may distract from a focus on content when evaluating student work.
  • Guidelines and sample portfolios may be especially important in this instance to help students understand the instructor’s expectations.

Instructing Students About Creating an E-Portfolio

Provide students with instruction on how to use Google Sites to create an e-portfolio. A simple demonstration in the computer lab, followed by “hands-on” training may be especially helpful for students who consider themselves less technically proficient. While many practical questions may be answered at the start, keep in mind that additional questions may arise along the way as students attach more complex artifacts and publish their pages, for example. You can also refer your students to the Google Sites Help Documentation.

Allow yourself time to become familiar with Google Sites. This way you will be able to understand particular concerns or questions students may raise.

Using Portfolios In a Large Class

Because portfolios take time to review, you may wish to have them due only once during the quarter if you are using them in a large class. Many instructors have found that portfolios work well as a summative evaluation at the end of the quarter.