Capture student skills with e-portfolios

Welcome to our new series, COVID-19 Innovations. Here, we chronicle the innovative ways that career and technical educators continue to engage students as lifelong learners and prepare them for rewarding careers, even as the COVID-19 pandemic has upended the 2020–21 school year.

During COVID-19, Rachel Conover of Indian Valley Vocational Center in Sandwich, Illinois, has provided her students with choices. Conover’s culinary arts students demonstrated learning in various ways, including videos, photos and written reflections, using CTEfolio.

Brockton and Somerville school districts in Massachusetts are also piloting CTEfolio. This image shows one of many customizable challenges for Somerville students.

Documenting skills digitally

CTEfolio presents a digital portfolio of student knowledge, skills and experiences. Developed by CAST, a nonprofit education research and development organization, CTEfolio aligns with the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL). UDL is a framework for designing accessible and rigorous learning environments for all.

Through CTEfolio, students curate evidence that demonstrates their learning in one central location. Conover offers feedback directly on student work, and students make improvements based on her input. Learners have access to CTEfolio for five years after graduation, and employers can gain access to see evidence of student competencies.

Supporting students with disabilities

Tools like CTEfolio are particularly useful for learners with individualized education plans, Conover said. Students with disabilities can struggle to effectively navigate multiple digital platforms. She described how digital portfolios help students that struggle with verbal communication, memory, anxiety and organizational skills. In CTEfolio, students learn how to assemble and display learning and skills to instructors and potential employers. Built-in accessibility features — text-to-speech, speech-to-text, dictionary and translation — help achieve this goal.

Do you have a COVID-19 innovation to share?

ACTE wants to hear about the innovative ways you are coping with the impact of the pandemic on CTE and career development. Please fill out this short form, and you could be featured in this series. For additional ideas on remote, blended and socially distanced in-person learning for CTE, check out ACTE’s comprehensive guide High-quality CTE: Planning for a COVID-19-impacted School Year and CTE distance learning lesson plan resources.