Open Portfolios: What — and how — are you documenting?

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Amidst all the Fair(e)s and excitement from one coast to another, it’s been incredible to see how way makers are documenting their work, their excitement, and the community. Maker Ed’s Open Portfolio Project is investigating just that. Over the past 8 months, in collaboration with our close partners at Indiana University’s Creativity Labs, we have begun to think through what an open, decentralized, and distributed portfolio system might look like for makers.

And it looks different from one project to the next! Our National Working Group and core leadership team convened back in November 2013 to experience some hands-on making and active documentation themselves, and the documentation that occurred varied from final snapshots of a semi-finished product, to 3rd-person photographs, to a in-the-moment iPhone video stand that utilized a juice carafe. We are makers indeed. Our prototyped work with makers at Maker Faire Bay Area and with youth in Bloomington, IN also revealed some insights into how they do — and don’t — care about recording what they do.

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Along with monthly Hangouts with the incredible team of National Working Group experts, we are also embarking on our second phase of the project — field research with K-12 sites across the country. We want to know what young makers are doing, how they’re capturing their work, and what practices, questions, and hopes have arisen. Research questions that stemmed from our literature review of historical portfolio use in education and other fields also help point us in a direction that investigates questions of assessment, evaluation, curation, identity, and reflection.

Which brings us back to the question of… what — and how — are you documenting?  How do the young makers in your communities record the incredible things they do? Do you write about it on blogs, in journals, on whiteboards? Do you take photos and videos of finished products or of mid-process (marvelous) mistakes? Do you assign grades and/or set up showcase exhibitions? Is there time set aside for thought, conversation, and reflection?

If you’re interested in being part of our work, feel free to register your interest via our Open Portfolio form. Or better yet, if you’re already making and documenting with youth this summer, please fill out our recent Maker Site Survey! This latter tool will inform the field research work that we do and ultimately, the findings and recommendations we make upon completion of the project.

Gordon and Betty Moore FoundationThe Open Portfolio Project is made possible by the incredible support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.






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