January 17, 2019

Seesaw: Makes the Digital Portfolio Child’s Play

This text was initially published by Profweb under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 International licence, before Eductive was launched.

This article is the translation of a text first published in the French edition of Profweb

Seesaw is a portfolio creation tool.  Seesaw’s simplicity of use makes it stand out from the crowd. It is very popular with primary school teachers. Students can save content of all sorts (texts, images, videos, etc.) The content can be kept private, can be shared with specific individuals, or made public. How can this tool be used at the college level?

What is Seesaw?

Seesaw runs both on a website and a mobile application. The interface is in English only.

There is a free version of Seesaw that meets teachers’ needs very well. The paid service might be useful if all of the teachers of a program decided to use Seesaw to follow the students’ progress over time. I will come back to this later.

In Seesaw, students can post:

  • Pictures
  • Videos
  • Drawings
  • Text
  • Links to web content
  • PDF files

Add content in Seesaw

Content posted by your students is immediately visible to you. You can choose to see all of the content posted by one individual student or you can choose to see all of the students’ posts for one specific project.

You can give feedback to your students (individually, in a team, or in a group).

The students can upload their own content or respond to a teacher-created activity. When creating an activity, you can send instructions to the students and, if you wish, a template for publication.

A sample activity suggested in the Seesaw activity library: Remember Something New. Students are asked to make a sketch and use labels to help them remember a new concept.

A sample activity suggested in the Seesaw activity library: Share Your Thinking.  Students are asked to record a reflection on what they just learned.

Why Seesaw is popular in primary school

Intuitive interface

Seesaw is extremely easy for students to use.  The interface is very intuitive; for students adding content is child’s play.

Easy access

Students can join by simply scanning a QR code, which is an advantage for grade-schoolers. At the college level, students can be asked to connect using their email address or their Google Account.

Sharing content

Elementary school teachers appreciate Seesaw because it allows them to share a student’s content (either in whole or in part) with that student’s parents. At the college level, parents’ involvement isn’t the same, but this feature could still be very interesting. College level students could share the content of their portfolios with specific people: their internship supervisor, teachers from previous courses, etc.

Students use Seesaw in an American primary school

And at the college level?

Profweb published a featured report on the use of e-portfolio in education. Several real-life stories showing how portfolios are being used, were also featured on our site.

Seesaw could definitely be an interesting support for college e-portfolios. Seesaw offers all of the features of a portfolio.  The ease with which videos can be integrated (imported or recorded directly via Seesaw’s interface using a mobile device camera) allows students, for example, to keep traces of oral presentations or to film a particular technique (in arts, in a lab or for first aid…).

At the college level, platforms used by students to build portfolios do not have to be as simple as Seesaw. Students can, for example, create blogs that provide the advantage of remaining accessible even after graduation.

In the free version of Seesaw a teacher cannot manage more than 10 classes, which means that older classes would have to be deactivated after a certain period of time.  In the paid version of the app the number of classes that can remain active for each teacher can go up to 25 or even 100.

In the free version, there can be a maximum of 2 teachers per class. Thus, the teachers of 2 different classes could follow the student’s educational journey in the same portfolio. In the paid version up to 20 teachers can access the portfolio. This could be very useful in a program approach, if all of the teachers of the program want to follow the students’ progress.

There are numerous portfolio creation tools and carefully choosing the one to use with our students is important.  I suggest you read the section on how to choose the right tool in Profweb’s featured report on Portfolios and consider adding Seesaw to the list of options!

About the author

Catherine Rhéaume

Catherine Rhéaume is an editor and writer for Eductive (previously Profweb) since 2013. She also teaches physics at Cégep Limoilou. Her work for Eductive fosters her interest for technopedagogy and encourages her to try innovative teaching practices.

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