By Jennifer Roland
As digital portfolios become more commonly used for students to showcase their work and projects, more companies are offering their services in this realm. One of the newest onto the scene is CollegeOnTrack, which joins Zinch and College Bound — as well as the tried-and-true personal blog — in the world of online portfolio tools.
Zinch, which is free for students, is designed like a social networking tool. Educational portfolio researcher, author and consultant Helen Barrett believes the lines are blurring between social networking tools and digital portfolios. In fact, she says, social networking sites help prepare students for the technical work involved in creating and maintaining a strong digital portfolio. (Educator Lisa Nielsen goes so far as to recommend using Facebook Timeline to showcase student achievement.)
With the digital portfolio sites, students can compile the list of colleges they want to apply to, upload their work for college admissions officers to see, and apply for scholarships. They can connect with admissions officers at participating schools so their application will be more than just a name and a set of scores when it arrives in the admissions office.
College Bound Designs actually creates digital portfolios for students to submit as part of their application package. They offer a range of packages ranging from $500 to $1800, with a special focus on portfolios for artists and athletes. The packages can be targeted for specific schools.
CollegeOnTrack's service focuses more on the process and less on the finished works than the other two companies, with a journal that allows students to reflect on their learning process in addition to the presentation of finished works that show the breadth of a student's growth as a learner throughout high school. It also allows parents and counselors, when invited by the student, to help students refine their portfolios and track their process in selecting and applying for colleges.