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E-Portfolios | News

NYC's Cooke Center Academy Moves To Digital Portfolios

New York City's Cooke Center for Learning and Development will use online portfolios provided by OpenSchool for its high school-aged students.

Online portfolios are digital repositories of an individual student's work in his or her classes, along with any work he or she may do independently.

The Cooke Center has about 500 special education students who range in age from 5 to 21. The OpenSchool e-portfolios will be used at the Cooke Academy for high school students on two campuses — one in Soho and one in Chelsea.

"In the never-ending effort to capture the realities of multisensory learning, digital portfolios will allow our students to engage with technology and give our teachers opportunities for authentic assessment," said Cooke Center Academy Principal Mary Clancy. "And it will finally give us an alternative to stacks of three-ring binders!"

OpenSchool officials said their digital portfolio allows students — particularly special education students — the chance to show abilities and talents that cannot easily be measured by standardized testing procedures. At the same time, it can paint a more holistic picture of students' progress toward their educational goals.

Steve Zimmerman, co-creator of OpenSchool, said it is well-known that interdisciplinary projects are often the best way for students to demonstrate their success, but they are not always easy to evaluate. Digital portfolios can help by allowing teachers to create the criteria along with the student.

"Tracking student learning, measuring individual progress over the course of each student's development, allows Cooke Center to support its students in more progressive ways," Zimmerman said.

Finally, said Jessie Gardner, technology specialist and head teacher at Cooke Center Academy, "Digital portfolios will allow students to receive, interact and exhibit material in ways best befitting their individual learning styles."

About the Author

Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.

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