Digication $latex \neq$ Digital Portfolio

UPDATE: I have given up on digication and created my portfolio at wordpress: samjshahportfolio.wordpress.com.

As the summer winds down, I’m looking at my to do list — parts of which have languished because they were left unattended. One item was to check out digication, this site that my school subscribes to which allows students and teachers to make online portfolios. (My first attempt at a portfolio didn’t really turn out great. And then boxtr.com deleted all my files. Suck.)

I spent a number of hours today trying to knock “explore digication” off my list, and lo and behold, I now havethe embryo of a digital portfolio.

Yes, it needs more content. Yes, the organizational structure isn’t there. But hey, you gotta start somewhere.

However, if anyone else out there is so inspired, let me please save you from digication. It has all the functionality of… well… a lobotomized WordPress blog. Ummm. Yeah… Actually, that’s exactly right. I’ll explain in a bit. So here’s the deal. I was looking for something which could organize a lot of content easily, which had a good file manager, which was fully customizable with lots of themes/skin options, and which would hook up nicely with lots of the new websites out there (e.g. vimeo, slideshare).

Some problems with digication:

  1. There are two types of “modules” — picture boxes or text boxes. If you have pictures, they get displayed. Great. But if you want to make them links? Oh, you can’t. Or if you have a text box and want to insert a picture in it, the picture can be at most 500 pixels long. In other words, you are using a website which is supposed to let you create a website about who you are, but the website sends ninjas to your home to tie your hands behind your back and force you to swim in a very salty pool.
  2. You can’t mess around with the HTML code. Which doesn’t sound so horrible, right? You have a nice WYSIWYG editor, which allows you to change font colors and sizes with the click of a button. However, let’s think of something totally crazy, like maybe wanting to put up a slideshow from slideshare, or a video on vimeo, where you have to put some embed code in the HTML. You can’t. So you’re stuck only putting in videos from the sites youtube and teachertube, which are built in options. Not going to happen, buddy.
  3. You can’t change the background, or any of the style. You can upload one banner picture (see mine above), you have about 6 fonts to choose from, and you can’t change the fonts of the page titles. There is also a lot of wasted space (especially on the left hand side of the page).
  4. There isn’t a good file manager (that I could find anyway). Okay, let me rephrase. I couldn’t find any file manager. So say you upload a picture, and then decide to put it in a different page. Well, unless I’m missing something (and I hope I am), you have to delete the picture and then re-upload it on the other page. (Seriously.)
  5. I wanted to have the RSS feed of this blog import to one of the pages of the portfolio, so you could read the blog there. Mainly so everything is current. Well, I couldn’t figure out how to make that happen.
  6. You can create various “header” pages, and then sub pages within them. (So, for example, I have a page on Technology, and under that, I have a page on SmartBoards.) Great! But you know what would be even better? I want sub-sub pages. Because wouldn’t it be nice to have, say, a page under that called “Algebra II” or “Calculus” which contains my SmartBoards from those classes?
  7. You can’t load PDFs for display and scrolling.
I know I could make a way, way better portfolio on a WordPress blog, because it would allow me to do most of the things I can’t do in digication (except for maybe #6). See, for example, my Multivariable Calculus Resource Page, which I created on a WordPress site but is not anything like a blog. Now imagine that with pictures, videos, worksheets, teaching philosophies, etc.! Phew! Good stuff.
But hey, I’ll stick with this for a while, because my school is paying for it. And I hate to see money go to waste.
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3 comments

  1. Ha! And ed consultants, too?

    I actually do see some use for the site, precisely because it has all these limitations. It has a very low learning curve. And if students in a class create them, and are supposed to comment/collaborate with other students, and if you want them to look like a cohesive whole, this actually is a great resource.

    But as is pretty clear from my screed, I find that it is really limiting for an individual teacher who has some basic knowledge of the internets (which is a series of tubes) — the lack customization features becomes unbearably annoying.

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