I’ve been told there is a discussion on a Facebook group for Forest School trainers regarding my online portfolio and the pros and cons of a website based portfolio. I’m not a member of the group so can’t see or contribute to the discussion so wanted to address the points I was aware had been raised.
I’d genuinely welcome any feedback on either the format or the content of the portfolio. If anyone has questions, comments or suggestions they’d like to make I’d encourage them to leave a comment on this post or drop me an email at info@thissiteurl.
Why a portfolio website? Primarily because it’s a familiar and comfortable medium for me to work with. I spent some time setting up the page structure and am now free to just add bits and pieces in no particular order as and when I have time and it all remains logically ordered. With all my photos and notes synced with a Dropbox account it means I can also work from home, work or anywhere else without needing to carry anything around with me.
I’ve found the bits and pieces of other peoples portfolios and the experiences shared in online groups have been invaluable in my learning and development. Whilst I’m enjoying creating the portfolio purely for it’s intrinsic value it’s also nice to be able to give something back. I’m hoping that my portfolio and experiences might be useful to others in their journey.
Group photo permissions
This is an interesting one and relates specifically to the group photo I have on the home page. On the first development week of our course everyone agreed that they were happy for photos of themselves to be taken, shared and used in portfolios. The exact same photo appears publicly, amongst other places, on our trainers Facebook group. I know most, if not all, of the trainees on the course are aware of their photo on this site. To be fair though I can’t remember at the time if I said explicitly that my portfolio would be online or not. I’ve modified the photo though just to avoid any issue or upset (smiley’s for the win!). It may be worth forest school trainers considering use of group photo’s online and how this fits in with their current photo policy for trainees.
Plagiarism is and always will be a risk. There are a number of forest school portfolio support groups on Facebook. People use these to request help with their portfolio and it’s common for a reply to extend to “I’ll email you mine to use”. There’s more chance of plagiarism occurring undetected in those circumstances. This site being public makes it easy to check against if anyone does suspect plagiarism. A couple of completed portfolios in PDF format are already floating around the Internet. I don’t think mine being in this medium presents any higher chance of it being plagiarised. Much of my portfolio is relevant to my unique sessions and client groups. I still haven’t submitted it so who knows if any of it is any good or if it will pass yet anyway!
The Archimedes model
I understand their are some concerns about whether the site reveals too much about the Archimedes forest school model. I’ve been careful to write everything from scratch and have also created my own formats for forms (participant observation forms and session planning forms for example) rather than use copies of the forms that are in the course materials.
The Archimedes forest school courses are accredited by the Open Awards awarding body. Their website includes details of the course structure along with unit descriptions and section titles. Details of similar course/portfolio structure is also available on the Open College Network (OCN) website. OCN are the awarding body who accredit many of the other UK forest school leadership courses. I’ve also seen electronic copies of the Archimedes practitioners handbook floating around the net a few times.
I don’t think that the content of this site gives any more information than is already freely available. I wouldn’t want to cause anyone at Archimedes to feel like I’ve shared something in a way I shouldn’t though. I’d welcome any concerns being shared directly with me and would be happy to look at addressing them if possible.