MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) – When Daniel Whitt wanted to teach his students at James Clemens High School how to build a digital portfolio, he found the curriculum didn’t exist.
So, the help of Mason Overcash, an art teacher at James Clemens, he created his own.
As Whitt explains, the students “are able to create a one-stop shop on the web where anyone who comes across it can see what they care about, what they’re good about and what they’ve accomplished.”
The program was such a success that it quickly expanded to Bob Jones High School and the city’s two middle schools.
This year, Whitt, who is now the system's Instructional Technology Coordinator, brought the initiative to Madison's seven elementary schools.
"Right now, we're really focusing heavily on 5th and 6th grade. Seventh and 8th grade are doing this also and at the high school level, they have to do it. It's integrated into their curriculum," he says.
Not only do the students learn how to build websites from scratch, the class also teaches them to think about their skills in new ways.
The resulting digital portfolios - a far cry from the traditional one-sheet resume.
Whitt believes that difference will serve the students well as they apply for college or employment.
"We really want to separate them from that stack of resumes on someone's desk," he says.
Whitt adds, "If I can hand you a resume as my future, hopeful employer but then also give you a link to this multi-media experience and you can see - what I can create, what I can do, how I've changed my world, how I've changed my school, how I've changed over time. Then, you have a much deeper window into who I am as a person."
This summer, Madison City Schools officials will share the initiative at education conferences in Alabama.
They're also working to make the curriculum available - free - to school systems around the world.