Not long after my second-grade students started using iPads, it became apparent that I needed a way to share their digital work with parents. I didn’t want to resort to printing everything, so I researched eportfolio options. I found Posterous in 2011, and that blog platform worked well … until they closed in 2013. Luckily, a couple of the founders quickly created Posthaven, which my colleagues and I have been using since. However, I’m always on the hunt for something that might work just a little bit better, and back in August I connected with Class Locker. Here’s a brief comparison of these two platforms.
What does the workflow look like?
With Posthaven, each student has a private folder under my teacher site. Each of their folders has a unique email, so they simply email all work directly from the app they're using (or Photos if the app doesn’t allow for mail) to their individual folder. For apps that create a link, students email the link. They can add comments in the body of the email.
To add work to Class Locker, students log in to their account. They tap on the teacher-created assignment that they want to complete, or they tap the "+" button to add work that the teacher has not created an assignment for. At that point in both cases, students can add a URL, add an image or video from Photos, take a photo or video, or draw. Students can add comments to their work.
Which file formats are supported?
Posthaven supports any file type, including image files, PDF, and video files, as well as URLs. However, since work is transferred to Posthaven via email, movie file sizes are limited. Class Locker supports the transfer of image files, PDF, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, MOV, MP4, AVI, 3GP, WMV, and Scratch projects (.sb or .sb2), as well as URLs. Students can also draw in the Class Locker app.
What do teachers see?
When I log in to my teacher "dashboard" in Posthaven, I see a folder, called a "site," for each of my students. Opening a student site allows me to see a chronological list of the work they’ve sent. The title of each email sent by the student becomes the title of the entry; therefore, it’s important to teach the students to be specific in their subject lines. When I click on a particular entry, I see the photo, project created, or I’m sent to the associated URL. I have the ability to leave comments.
In Class Locker’s teacher "dashboard," I see a list of each of my students. When I tap on a student’s name, I see a list of work they’ve submitted. I see the title of the work and a thumbnail of the work. When I click on a particular entry, I see the full-size image, the video will play, or I am taken to the associated URL. I have the ability to leave comments as well as simply click a check mark to indicate I’ve viewed the work. Class Locker also allows teachers to create specific assignments, which students complete and turn in, or students can submit work without associating it with an assignment. The advantage of creating an assignment is that I can quickly tap through all submissions for that assignment to see student work (similar to looking through a stack of papers) and see who didn’t turn it in. The disadvantage of creating an assignment is that I have to take the time to do so (although it only takes about 30 seconds).
What do parents see?
With Posthaven, parents receive a notification each time work is added to their child’s eportfolio. Parents click to view the link or see the work. Class Locker, on the other hand, sends parents daily batch notifications of work submitted. They click on each item in the list to view the work.
What do second-grade students think?
My students are more familiar with Posthaven since they’ve been using it since first grade. They like how easy it is to use. Because almost all the apps we use have a built-in email feature, it’s easy for them to move work directly from apps to their eportfolios. When they're ready to submit, all they need to do is find the "email" button in the app.
Students don’t like Class Locker as well because it takes more taps to get work to their eportfolio -- they have to go to the Class Locker icon and add the work. They do agree that this isn’t difficult and takes less than a minute, but it's a few more steps than Posthaven.