Thursday, January 26, 2017

ePortfolio Hub from Ireland

eportfoliohub logo
I just received notice today about a new website in Ireland, which is part of a national program in ePortfolio development in that country.  According to their announcement:
As part of a National-Forum funded project, Dublin Institute of Technology, Institute of Technology Tallaght, Institute of Technology Blanchardstown and Hibernia College are delighted to launch the ePortfolio Hub website, which offers a one-stop-shop for anyone interested in incorporating ePortfolios into their teaching or creating their own ePortfolio, including how-tos, templates, guides, presentations, videos and research findings. 
I participated in a conference last March in Dublin, and I recognize a lot of ideas from my keynote address, which I organized around these three questions:
The website contains a lot of videos and resources to either create a personal portfolio, or incorporate an ePortfolio into an academic program. 
The largest section of the website focuses on the How of creating ePortfolios, focusing on four steps (for individuals) or three steps (for programs):
The Plan section has great resources that provide checklists and resources that are similar to the Planning resource that I have incorporated into my online course. The Reflect section has an insightful video on Reflective Writing, and a very interesting page on Reflective Practice using Barbara Bassot’s ‘Metaphorical Mirrors’. The Present section includes videos on developing digital identity. The Assess section (for programs) includes a variety of sample rubrics for evaluating ePortfolios. There are also sample portfolios, samples of reflective writing, description of the variety of online tools available, and video tutorials for developing an ePortfolio using WordPress.

Overall, this is a great resource for higher education, with a lot of local videos from students and faculty to support the elements of ePortfolio development. I am impressed and proud to have been a small part of the process, beginning with the conference last March.


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Current research on ePortfolios in schools

I received the following inquiry from a K-12 teacher:
I came across your work on portfolios, particularly using Google apps, and I was just wondering how recent your research is.  Specifically here: https://sites.google.com/site/eportfolioapps/Home. We are a school district looking to incorporate portfolios with our students (currently using what you would call “Tier 1”).
My response:

Thanks for your inquiry. You didn’t mention what grade level you want to implement ePortfolios. I find that implementation with students younger than 3rd grade becomes a teacher-centered activity, and thus less likely to be sustainable. As long as students are responsible for the implementation, then the workload on teachers is lower.

Regarding my research on portfolio development processes (collection, selection, reflection, direction, presentation, evaluation), the underlying principles and philosophies have not markedly changed since the early 1990s. What has changed are the technologies that have been used to implement portfolios, from proprietary ePortfolio systems (from late 1990s) to so-called Web 2.0 tools, such as blogs (from early 2000s) or Google Apps (from 2008). As with most technologies, the field is always changing, especially with the add-on tools to Google Apps such as Teacher Dashboard (Hapara) or Google’s own Classroom. Most recently there have been ePortfolio tools developed for K-12 tools, such as Seesaw, although I have not used that one yet (looks like an elementary tool).

I have posted a web page that contains a summary of various “free” tools for ePortfolios:
http://electronicportfolios.org/eportfolios/tools.html

I am a believer in high school students’ ownership of their own sites (or at least in a format that can be easily transferred to their own account after graduation). I found a blog entry recently that agrees with this belief:
http://www.rosscoops31.com/2016/08/18/digital-portfolios-blogs-use-authentic-technology-not-technology-made-school/

You mentioned Google Apps, so I assume you are a Google Apps for Education school. If so, you have access to Google Sites, which is a fairly effective showcase portfolio tool. Google Apps also includes adequate storage (Drive) for various type of documents, including video and audio.  Google’s blog is Blogger, where students can keep track of their reflections, but they can also use the Announcements Page Type in Sites. Your Google Site Administrator can transfer all student files to their own Gmail account after graduation.

I also like WordPress as a platform for reflective portfolios, and through an EduBlogs paid account, you can support a full platform that supports video (EduBlogs uses the WordPress software). A blog can be transferred to an XML file that can be transferred to another blog platform that a student owns.

You found my free self-paced online courses on developing ePortfolios (designed for K-12 teachers):
https://sites.google.com/site/k12eportfolios/ (generic online tools)
https://sites.google.com/site/k12eportfolioapps/ (Google Apps)

I have several Sites that discuss developing ePortfolios with these tools:
https://sites.google.com/site/eportfolioapps/ (Google Apps)
https://sites.google.com/site/eportfolioswp/ (WordPress)

I also recognize the incorporation of mobile devices into the ePortfolio process:
https://sites.google.com/site/mportfolios/

I follow a few schools that I think are implementing ePortfolios at the “cutting edge.” My favorite includes the High Tech High schools in the San Diego area. http://www.hightechhigh.org/digital_portfolios.php (some schools use Google Sites, others have students create their own websites using their school web server). From my visit to their schools, I found that the portfolio process is infused throughout the curriculum (and the students I talked with LOVED their DPs—digital portfolios). They use their portfolios to support three Presentations of Learning a year (PoLs) and student-led conferences.

If you are looking at elementary schools, I follow what is happening at a group of K-8 schools on Auckland, New Zealand. Their students use Blogger and teachers use Hapara to manage student accounts. They also research their outcomes and you can see their latest results here:
http://manaiakalani.blogspot.com/2016/07/blogging-supports-writing-outcomes.html
In these schools, younger students use iPad apps to document their reading and writing through screen recording technologies (i.e., Explain Everything).

My Level 1 portfolios are spaces where students can store their work online, and share documents or folders with teachers and fellow students.
My Level 2 portfolios are spaces where students can reflect on their work on a regular basis, organized chronologically (great use for a blog).
My Level 3 portfolios are showcases of student work, organized thematically, where students can comment on their achievement around specific outcomes, goals or standards (the High Tech High model).
There is another level incorporated in many of the propriety tools, that allows teachers/schools/districts to collect evaluation data based on rubrics and evaluation of student work. I call that an institution-centered Assessment Management System (not a student-centered ePortfolio).

I hope this answers some of your questions about my current research. I will be updating these online course sites for K-12 schools over the next year, and will be offering a new facilitated course some time in the near future.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Blogging results from New Zealand schools

Interesting blog post from Dorothy Burt, Point England School, Auckland, New Zealand. My daughter Erin and I visited this school five years ago and I have been following their student blogging program as an example of online learning journals (working portfolio). Nice to see writing outcomes (not the first report of this type). As she says, "...a generation of young people have been through our schools knowing that sharing your learning publicly is an important part of the learning process."
http://manaiakalani.blogspot.com/2016/07/blogging-supports-writing-outcomes.html

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

ITB Teleconference Recording

I provided an online presentation for ITB (Ireland) on June 14, 2016.
The link to the recording of the session is here: (flash plugin is required) https://itb.adobeconnect.com/p1s7nrarafx/

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

ePortfolios in Ireland - Day 2 workshop

On the second day of the ePortfolios in Ireland conference, I led a workshop on Reflection as part of the theme for the second day, Process.


Monday, March 21, 2016

ePortfolios in Ireland -Day 1 Keynote

 I am in Dublin, Ireland, providing the keynote address for a national conference sponsored by the Dublin Institute of Technology. Here are my slides.


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Fresno State University Keynote & Session

I had the privilege to provide the keynote address at a faculty development workshop at Fresno State University on August 20:

My colleague and fellow ADE Otto Benavides, took this photo where I am showing the Google Site that I set up for the workshop:
 After the keynote address, I provided one of my favorite presentations on digital storytelling and reflection (Know Thyself):

I really enjoyed the opportunity to meet new and old friends, and to continue to share my knowledge and passions for ePortfolios, reflection, and digital storytelling.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Pathbrite ePortfolio Tool

As part of my preparation for the keynote address that I am providing to faculty at Fresno State University, I created the 42nd version of my online portfolio using Pathbrite.

Here are my impressions of this free tool (for students), which has been adopted by Fresno State. I understand that there is a fee for institutions to gain access to all of the integration and assessment tools.
  • Free accounts with 2 GB storage limit, and links to most types of uploadable files as well as online sources - Examples of file types: Image, Text, Video, Documents, Web Link; Import Files from external services: YouTube Videos, Vimeo Videos, Google Drive Files, Facebook Photos, LinkedIn Recommendation, Khan Academy Badges, Parchment Transcripts, Credly Badges.
  • Multiple showcase portfolios can be created using uploaded content.
  • Relatively easy to use - there is an intuitive interface for both editing Style & Settings, and Adding Work.
  • Publishing online - the system creates a URL for each showcase portfolio, although it does not appear that the user has any control over how each view is named (the "YouTube/GoogleDocs" model of assigning file names)
  • Single screen view - there is only one web page for each portfolio, although Categories of entries can be used to create sub-views of content
  • Each artifact has a title and "Story behind this Work" which can be used to provide a description/brief reflection.
  • Student and Faculty access Pathbrite from inside their Blackboard accounts, and faculty can set up course portfolios that provide templates for students
  • The system has an assessment system where faculty can see which students have completed specific item in the assigned portfolios, and assign points. Reports can be generated, but I did not see this feature (no access to their Blackboard)
  • The system is designed to work with tablet browsers (although I set up my portfolio using my MacBook laptop).
My overall impression: I can see some of the advantages, and if I were a faculty member, I would appreciate the back end (assigned course portfolios, assessment system for collecting and aggregating data). I understand that this system would be available to students after they graduate, and students can create any number of showcase portfolios for a variety of audiences, including potential employers. The system has only been available for the last two years, and has an impressive number of institutions and users who have independently set up accounts. I am also impressed with the integration of a variety on online sources for adding existing content. The ability to work with mobile browsers (but no specific app) makes it more compatible with the growing use of mobile devices in K-12 and Higher Education.

Some of the disadvantages I saw from my brief experience with the Portfolio tool: I only tried the 2-across Grid Layout, not having time to figure out how to use the other layouts provided (Patchwork, Bricks, Pyramid), so it was a pretty boring layout visually. The single page approach makes it easy to navigate, but very limiting in terms of creativity. I did find the Categories helped in creating partial views of the content, and a single artifact can be easily assigned to multiple Categories. To add reflection to the portfolio required either creating a separate text box, using the limited caption, or linking to a blog, as I did to this blog.

I was asked which of the 42 tools I liked the best. For myself, I still like my updated Google Sites portfolio, although I have seen great things done with WordPress and its K-12 versions (EduBlogs, Kidblog). I can see some advantages of Pathbrite in the institutional environment. I just wish it had more flexibility in presentation.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

CUE2015

I'm attending the CUE 2015 conference in Palm Springs, and these are the highlights for me:
  • Skitch app for annotating images uploading to Google Drive & lots of apps
  • Shadow Puppets EDU for creating narrated slide shows (with lots of images available from web)
  • Glogster for creating posters 
  • Google Storybuilder https://docsstorybuilder.appspot.com - creates a story in Google Docs (with characters "speaking")
  • Vine for iPad
  • Canva - design app for iPad
  • Thinglink - to annotate images or movies: https://www.thinglink.com/






Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Hamilton, NZ Keynote

I am in Hamilton, New Zealand, presenting the keynote address at WCELfest2015. These are a great group of educators and it has been fun to share my ideas and see what they are doing with both ePortfolios and digital storytelling. Here are my slides:


It is fun to follow my Twitter feed of comments. Here is a sample and a few images:
  • tracey morgan ‏@traceymorgan
    encouraging students to be creative taking on a persona and telling stories #wcelfest
  • Nigel Robertson ‏@easegill 36m36 minutes ago
    Helen Barrett @eportfolios reflecting on the road taken. Her journey of choices in a digital story #WCELfest
  • Ursula ‏@UrsulaEdg 38m38 minutes ago
    @eportfolios great keynote #wcelfest thank you! #storytelling #elearning
  • Anne Robertson ‏@robeanne 40m40 minutes ago Hamilton City, New Zealand
    https://aboxofthistles.wordpress.com/2015/02/11/28daysofwriting-day-10-digital-story-telling/ … my first attempt at a digital story #wcelfest #eportfolios @eportfolios thank you
  • tracey morgan ‏@traceymorgan 45m45 minutes ago
    The challenge what story will we tell #wcelfest
  • Kristina DC Hoeppner ‏@anitsirk 45m45 minutes ago
    #wcelfest helen barrett: reflections & relationships are the heart & soul of an ePortfolio and not the technology.
  • Teresa Gibbison ‏@gibbisons 46m46 minutes ago
        @eportfolios with an important reminder #wcelfest
  • Nigel Robertson ‏@easegill 46m46 minutes ago
    The heart and soul of a portfolio is the relationships, the conversations, the interactions #WCELfest @eportfolios
  • Dianne Forbes ‏@difo38 48m48 minutes ago
    Range of tools for capturing, reflecting, sharing, learning. We are spoiled for choice #WCELfest
  • Noeline Wright ‏@enrite 49m49 minutes ago
    @easegill @difo38 #wcelfest yes- article still being cited 4 yrs later. Must have been one of first in education
  • Anne Robertson ‏@robeanne 50m50 minutes ago Hamilton City, New Zealand
    Eportfolios or Mportfolios - capturing the learning moment using mobile devices. So powerful #eportfolios #wcelfest
  • Teresa Gibbison ‏@gibbisons 50m50 minutes ago
        @eportfolios mPortfolios site https://sites.google.com/site/mportfolios/ … #wcelfest
  • Dianne Forbes ‏@difo38 50m50 minutes ago
    The essence of reflection: here's what, so what, now what? #WCELfest
  • Stephen Harlow ‏@stephenharlow 51m51 minutes ago
    .@eportfolios remembering meeting @arrowbound & Janice McDrury, authors of Learning through #Storytelling: http://waikato.lconz.ac.nz/vwebv/holdingsInfo?bibId=393722 … #wcelfest
  • Dianne Forbes ‏@difo38 52m52 minutes ago
    mPortfolios - reflecting in the moment #WCELfest
  • tracey morgan ‏@traceymorgan 52m52 minutes ago
    Mobile the future of eportfolio capturing the moment of learning #wcelfest
  • K Gilliver-Brown ‏@kgilliver_brown 53m53 minutes ago
    #wcelfest Dr. Helen Barrett: Coming to the realisation that the journey is as important as the destination.
  • Nigel Robertson ‏@easegill 53m53 minutes ago
    “@robeanne Process is more important than the output, that is where the learning is #wcelfest” #waitalk
  • Nigel Robertson ‏@easegill 54m54 minutes ago
    The process is much more important than the product. #learning #WCELfest
  • Dianne Forbes ‏@difo38 54m54 minutes ago
    #WCELfest portfolios & stories help us to recognise impt themes & patterns, informing decisions
  • Anne Robertson ‏@robeanne 54m54 minutes ago Hamilton City, New Zealand
    Who learns more in the classroom? The teacher or the students? #wcelfest #eportfolios
  • Anne Robertson ‏@robeanne 55m55 minutes ago Hamilton City, New Zealand
    Process is more important than the output, that is where the learning is #wcelfest
  • Nigel Robertson ‏@easegill 56m56 minutes ago
    'Making the focus of my portfolio the reality of my existence' Finding purpose in life #WCELfest
  • Anne Robertson ‏@robeanne 56m56 minutes ago Hamilton City, New Zealand
    #wcelfest our students need to know why and how they are learning and where they are going. #eportfolios
  • Nigel Robertson ‏@easegill 58m58 minutes ago
    Stories, ours and others, shape our memories #digitalstorytelling #WCELfest
  • Anne Robertson ‏@robeanne 58m58 minutes ago Hamilton City, New Zealand
    Whole idea of learning through story telling is very powerful and exciting #digitalstorytelling #eportfolios #wcelfest
  • tracey morgan ‏@traceymorgan 59m59 minutes ago
    Reflection how we learn, hold on to our stories, giving us our sense of self #wcelfest
  • Dianne Forbes ‏@difo38 59m59 minutes ago
    #wcelfest Telling stories is a way to deeper learning
  • Nigel Robertson ‏@easegill 1h1 hour ago
    Portfolios should be persuasive #ePortfolios #WCELfest
  • Anne Robertson ‏@robeanne 1h1 hour ago Hamilton City, New Zealand
    Experiential learning and portfolios. Learning from reflecting on experiences #eportfolios #wcelfest
  • Teresa Gibbison ‏@gibbisons 1h1 hour ago
        “@traceymorgan: @gibbisons capturing the moments #wcelfest ” love this pic!
  • Teresa Gibbison ‏@gibbisons 1h1 hour ago
    @eportfolios Reflection4Learning Google Site https://sites.google.com/site/reflection4learning/Home … #wcelfest
  • tracey morgan ‏@traceymorgan 1h1 hour ago
    @gibbisons capturing the moments #wcelfest
  • Nigel Robertson ‏@easegill 1h1 hour ago
    Getting a shout out at #WCELfest is @cogdog and his elephant thanks to @eportfolios
  • Anne Robertson ‏@robeanne 1h1 hour ago Hamilton City, New Zealand
    Digital stories to promote memory recall for Alzheimer sufferers #wcelfest #eportfolios
  • Nigel Robertson ‏@easegill 1h1 hour ago
    Eportfolios as part of your digital identity. What do you find when you Google yourself? #WCELfest
  • Dianne Forbes ‏@difo38 1h1 hour ago
    wcelfest what starts as well-being evolves into managing self and then to acting autonomously http://nzcurriculum.tki.org.nz/var/tki-nzc/storage/images/media/images/kl-images/key-competencies-cross-sector-alignment/3717-1-eng-NZ/key-competencies-Cross-sector-alignment.jpg
  • Anne Robertson ‏@robeanne 1h1 hour ago Hamilton City, New Zealand
    Portfolios have to be formative not summative or it won't be student ownership or investment #wcelfest
  • Anne Robertson ‏@robeanne 1h1 hour ago Hamilton City, New Zealand
    Fascinating cultural study of parents who upload pictures of children on social media #eportfolios #lifelonglearning #wcelfest
  • tracey morgan ‏@traceymorgan 1h1 hour ago
    Scrapbooks of life experience activities of eportfolio #wcelfest
  • Teresa Gibbison ‏@gibbisons 1h1 hour ago
     @eportfolios URL #jisc Effective Practice with ePortfolios http://www.jisc.ac.uk/news/e-portfolios-tools-for-21st-century-learning-09-sep-2008 … #wcelfest
  • Nigel Robertson ‏@easegill 1h1 hour ago
    Students need continuous personal development and we must encourage and enable that. Universities are learning institutions #WCELfest
  • Anne Robertson ‏@robeanne 1h1 hour ago Hamilton City, New Zealand
    Eportfolios not just a storage space. A place for learners to find their voice #eportfolios #wcelfest
  • tracey morgan ‏@traceymorgan 1h1 hour ago
    Dialogue at the centre conversation of eportfolio #wcelfest
  • Anne Robertson ‏@robeanne 1h1 hour ago Hamilton City, New Zealand
    Eportfolios are laboratories where learners construct meaning #wcelfest
  • Dianne Forbes ‏@difo38 1h1 hour ago
    #wcelfest [people] who manage themselves are enterprising, resourceful, reliable, and resilient ... NZC 2007 http://nzcurriculum.tki.org.nz/The-New-Zealand-Curriculum/Key-competencies#M …
  • Nigel Robertson ‏@easegill 1h1 hour ago
    “@difo38 And of course self management is a key competency in the nz curriculum #wcelfest” And should be a graduate attribute #waitalk
  • tracey morgan ‏@traceymorgan 1h1 hour ago
    Students constructing meaning #wcelfest
  • Anne Robertson ‏@robeanne 1h1 hour ago Hamilton City, New Zealand
    Questions for forming personal growth portfolio to help recognise learningfrom Peter Drucker #eportfolio #wcelfest
  • Teresa Gibbison ‏@gibbisons 1h1 hour ago
        @eportfolios 'Know Thyself" #wcelfest
  • tracey morgan ‏@traceymorgan 1h1 hour ago
    Know thyself, life long learning, the magic of reflection via the portfolio #wcelfest
  • Anne Robertson ‏@robeanne 1h1 hour ago Hamilton City, New Zealand
    The starting point has to be the learner building self awareness and understanding #eportfolios #wcelfest
  • Dianne Forbes ‏@difo38 1h1 hour ago
    And of course self management is a key competency in the nz curriculum #wcelfest
  • Nigel Robertson ‏@easegill 1h1 hour ago
    Eportfolios are like the Blind Men and the Elephant. Stand back and understand the bigger picture of eportfolios #WCELfest
  • tracey morgan ‏@traceymorgan 1h1 hour ago
    Showcase, assestment, development, personal ownership #folio #wcelfest
  • Dianne Forbes ‏@difo38 1h1 hour ago
    Why? Depends on which part of the elephant we perceive #wcelfest Fundamentally about student choice & voice
  • Anne Robertson ‏@robeanne 1h1 hour ago Hamilton City, New Zealand
    Eportfolios for showcase, assessment and reflection. It is all that things #wcelfest just like the blind men and the elephant
  • Dianne Forbes ‏@difo38 1h1 hour ago
    Self, artifacts& reflection - digital storytelling and eportfolios with @eportfolios Helen Barrett #wcelfest
  • Nigel Robertson ‏@easegill 1h1 hour ago
    “@difo38 Making thinking visible, archive of evidence, multi-purpose, multi-tools #wcelfest” The multiple facets of eportfolios
  • Anne Robertson ‏@robeanne 1h1 hour ago Hamilton City, New Zealand
    Hear the learner's voice through digital stories in eportfolios #digitalstorytelling #eportfolios #wcelfest
  • Stephen Harlow ‏@stephenharlow 1h1 hour ago
    "#ePortfolios make thinking visible" @eportfolios @visiblelearning #wcelfest
  • tracey morgan ‏@traceymorgan 1h1 hour ago
    Hearing the learrners voice #wcelfest
  • Dianne Forbes ‏@difo38 1h1 hour ago
    Making thinking visible, archive of evidence, multi-purpose, multi-tools #wcelfest
  • Anne Robertson ‏@robeanne 1h1 hour ago Hamilton City, New Zealand
    Eportfolios and digital story telling go hand in hand. Possibilities for deep learning #eportfolios #wcelfest
  • Nigel Robertson ‏@easegill 1h1 hour ago
        Dr Helen Barrett delivering the #WCELfest keynote at Waikato University #WaiEvents
  • mel ‏@melchivers 2h2 hours ago
    Eportfolio as both a workspace and a showcase. #WCELfest
  • tracey morgan ‏@traceymorgan 2h2 hours ago
    Collecting of artifacts, leonardo, making Thinking visible #wcelfest
  • Anne Robertson ‏@robeanne 2h2 hours ago Hamilton City, New Zealand
    Portfolios make learning visible #wcelfest #eportfolios #davinci
  • Anne Robertson ‏@robeanne 2h2 hours ago Hamilton City, New Zealand
    A portfolio has a different meaning for every walk of life #wcelfest what does it mean to you?
  • Anne Robertson ‏@robeanne 2h2 hours ago Hamilton City, New Zealand
    Portfolios for lifelong learning for identity development #WCELFEST
  • Nigel Robertson ‏@easegill 2h2 hours ago
    Portfolios not just for students, teachers should use them too #WCELfest
  • Anne Robertson ‏@robeanne 2h2 hours ago Hamilton City, New Zealand
    Rewired rather than retired - love it! @eportfolios #wcelfest
  • Anne Robertson ‏@robeanne 2h2 hours ago Hamilton City, New Zealand
    Building stories for reflection through #eportfolios recognizing how much we have learned @eportfolios #wcelfest
  • tracey morgan ‏@traceymorgan 2h2 hours ago
    My hero helen barrett creates Google site #wcelfest
  • Stephen Harlow ‏@stephenharlow 2h2 hours ago
    .@eportfolios tuning up the #WCELfest audience @waikato with her keynote: Know Thyself: #ePortfolios & Reflective Stories of Deep Learning
  • tracey morgan ‏@traceymorgan 2h2 hours ago
    Dr Helen Barrett about to give us the lowdown on eportfolios & reflective stories #wcelfest


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Resurrecting this blog

For the last two-and-a-half years, I have been ignoring this blog. The reasons were both personal and professional. My elderly mother came to live with me in 2012, and my attention was diverted to more retirement activities; I bought a Kindle, then a Kindle Fire HD, activated my Audible account and have accumulated some wonderful ebooks and audio books! My professional travel has also been greatly reduced (I am no longer MVP on Alaska Airlines -- sniff!). But today is my birthday; I received many wishes on my Facebook page, and I received a very interesting email from a K-12 school district, which made me realize that there is still interest in my ePortfolio expertise.  So I decided to get caught up with posting past presentations and other communications that I thought worthy of sharing.

While I won't post as often as in the past, I think it is time to pay more attention to my blog. I expect to post more interesting weblinks that I have just been uploading to my delicious account. Next week I will leave for a week working with Waikato University in New Zealand. After the webinar that I participated in through the Center for Digital Storytelling, I became energized by using the WeVideo tool. So, I am preparing a proposal to work with a local school on digital storytelling with teachers and high school students using WeVideo, I hope! It is time to rewire rather than totally retire!

Inquiry from K-12 Technology Coordinator

Here is an excerpt of an inquiry from a K-12 administrator for a school district in Texas:
I am the Director of Instructional Technology at the -- School District in --, TX.  Our district would like to implement electronic portfolios as a digital collection of evidence for learning.  There has been various committees that have worked on this program for several years and have struggled getting it off the ground.  Several teachers have implemented portfolios in their classroom, but we are wanting a solution that can be implemented district-wide.  During my research, I found your site and have shared it with the committee members.

During our meeting yesterday, it was suggested that I contact you and to discuss ways you can lead and support us in this journey.  We are a Google Apps for Education district and have decided that Google Sites would be our platform for our portfolio system...

I would love the opportunity to discuss how you can help us fulfill this goal of providing our students with a repository for their work.
Here is my response:

Have you found my online course on ePortfolios with Google Apps? https://sites.google.com/site/k12eportfolioapps/
Since you are a Google Apps district, you also have Google Drive to establish a digital collection of student work (the first level). You can use Blogger (or Google Sites Announcement page type) to support students maintaining a reflective journal (the second level). Google Sites provides the framework for a showcase portfolio (the third level). Are you using either Hapara’s Teacher Dashboard or Google Classroom to help teachers manage student collaboration work?

I am a believer in student-centered portfolios, where students use their portfolios to learn about themselves by reflecting on their own work. There are multiple purposes for developing e-portfolios, but self-understanding as reflected in the work products themselves, as well as reflections that the students write about their own learning is, in my opinion, the heart and soul of a student-centered portfolio. There are trade-offs between institution-centered goals (graduation requirement, standards, etc.) and student-centered goals (more of a learning journal that becomes a “laboratory for constructing meaning”). I am doing a keynote address at a conference in New Zealand next month with the title, “Know Thyself: ePortfolios and Reflective Stories of Deep Learning.” 

I have worked with other states and school districts to help them implement ePortfolios; i.e., New Hampshire, New York City Schools, Eastern Sierra USD (CA), Richland SD2 (SC), ASB (Mumbai, India). Here is a success story from ASB: http://teachingsagittarian.com/2010/03/asbup2010-journey-into-the-world-of-eportfolios/ and http://www.asbtechintegrationbook-digital.com/asbtechintegrationbook/2012#pg47
Between 2009 and 2013, I worked with the White Oak School District there in Texas to help their teachers implement ePortfolios (they use both Google Apps and EduBlogs): https://sites.google.com/site/woisd2009/

Have you looked at other schools who have successfully implemented ePortfolios? My favorite is the High Tech High schools in the San Diego area. http://www.hightechhigh.org/digital_portfolios.php (some schools use Google Sites, others have students create their own websites using their school web server). From my visit to their schools, I found that the portfolio process is infused throughout the curriculum (and the students I talked with LOVED their DPs—digital portfolios). They use their portfolios to support three Presentations of Learning a year (PoLs) and student-led conferences. Here is a case study written for me by teachers in a high school in the Boston area: https://docs.google.com/document/d/11lcG4vOkUiuvU1Jiu7a66SLfWTynBAlNWu85rHYEpHM

How many schools and teachers are supporting the portfolio development process (and how many of them have their own ePortfolios)? At what grade levels are you wanting to implement ePortfolios? Where are you in the process? Do you have an implementation plan for your ePortfolios? I focus on building an implementation plan in my online course noted above. I looked at the websites that you provided, and each can be a framework for student and teacher portfolios. You will notice that one option in the lessons in my course is for the learner to construct a professional ePortfolio.

I am available to work with your committee and teachers if you like. I can help your committee set up professional development for teachers (beginning with their own professional portfolios???).  I can start with a free single hour-long Skype/Google Hangout with your committee or I can do face-to-face meetings or workshops with your teachers. I could even facilitate a customized version of my online course for your teachers. It is up to you and your budget and what kind of PD works best in your district.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Workshops at Radford University

I just finished a second day of workshops at Radford University in Virginia (August 2014 and January 2015). I created this website to support these workshops:
https://sites.google.com/site/radfordreflections/

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Digital Storytelling with WeVideo

I just finished a webinar series sponsored by the Center for Digital Storytelling on creating digital stories with WeVideo. I went through the process and learned to use the tool, and I am VERY IMPRESSED with this online video editing tool. It reminds me of the version of iMovie that I loved (and Apple ruined--iMovie6).

This website provides a concise description of creating a digital story with still images:
Create a photo story with WeVideo


Here are some tutorials on the WeVideo site: 
Personal Narrative & Digital Storytelling with WeVideo [Part 1]
Personal Narrative & Digital Storytelling with WeVideo [Part 2]
Personal Narrative & Digital Storytelling with WeVideo [Part 3]
WeVideo Academy on YouTube (tutorial videos)

I created a very personal family story using WeVideo, so I will not post it here in my professional blog. However, I will work on another story that I will be able to post. I also hope to work with students and educators on creating digital stories for deep learning.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Divergent Purposes for K-12 ePortfolios

I received the following inquiry about ePortfolios from a K-12 educator:
Our school is implementing e-portfolios using Google Apps. I was reflecting on the information given to the students during advisory and was thinking about what students are preparing. I was expecting the portfolio to be standards based and to show knowledge and skills students have gained showing they are career and college ready. Career and college ready is one of our district goals. It seemed students were informed differently to make it sound fun and be accepted. The students are creating a yearbook of sorts. If so, the yearbook I have is in a box in the garage collecting dust. I want the portfolio to extend into their lives past these four years of experience. So, I was looking for information on how to approach e-portfolios from a standards approach and to make them useful past high school. I am not sure we are all on the same e-portfolio page at our district.
Here is my response:

Regarding the “purpose and function of e-portfolios” I would ask one question: Whose purpose? Student or school? Let me tell a story from my experience with e-portfolios in teacher education programs. For the most part, teacher education students create portfolios that are standards-based, showing that they have met the teacher education standards. And many of these students are so turned off to the process that “portfolio” is a dirty word and many student teachers won’t subject their own students to the process after they graduate (plus, universities don’t use the same tools that are used in schools). After leaving their teacher education programs, some of them create portfolios that are more of a showcase to apply for jobs.

One thing I did not read in your message was the concept of reflection. There are multiple purposes for developing e-portfolios, but self-understanding as reflected in the work products themselves, as well as reflections that the students write about their own learning, is, in my opinion, the heart and soul of a student-centered portfolio. There are trade-offs between institution-centered goals (graduation requirement, standards, etc.) and student-centered goals (more of a learning journal that becomes a “laboratory for constructing meaning”).

I always advocate for a balance between the two approaches. Several years ago, I watched/helped my own granddaughter complete a paper-based high school graduation portfolio… a process that she saw no purpose in, other than busy work (documents created in Word based on a template provided by the district, using an outline/requirement provided for her, rather than created by her). She left if for the last minute (of course, and at the end of the evening). I tried to help her find the meaning in the process. I asked her if she learned something about herself by going through the process. She grudgingly admitted that she did, but I’m afraid a lot of her fellow student were not fortunate enough to have teachers or family members that helped them find meaning in the process… just complaints about “jumping through hoops!” In some school districts in this state (Washington), students build a bonfire and burn their portfolio notebooks after graduation!

So, you have a choice: create a process that involves students and invites ownership, or create a process that feels a lot like standardized testing. As I said, finding a balance is the challenge.

You want the students to continue developing their portfolios after they graduate, but they have to be intrinsically motivated to do so. I did a TED talk about intrinsic motivation in the ePortfolio process:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckcSegrwjkA and a PDF paper with the script: https://db.tt/5rgf5nEG
You might also look at a PDF paper I wrote on “Balancing the Two Faces of ePortfolios”: https://db.tt/QuuKITBy

The underlying philosophy of two models of assessment (Assessment for Improvement paradigm vs. Assessment for Accountability paradigm) can be found in this article by Peter Ewell: http://www.learningoutcomeassessment.org/documents/PeterEwell_005.pdf (p.8)
Where do ePortfolios fit within these two paradigms? I prefer to see portfolios used for continuous improvement, rather than for accountability. This approach puts the student at the center of the process, and in charge.

This is probably not what you wanted to hear, but I think ePortfolios have been hijacked by the accountability movement in higher education (especially teacher education). Portfolios-in-education began in K-12 education under a constructivist paradigm of learning. Now, some K-12 educators are trying to implement portfolios under a behaviorist paradigm, to emulate/replace standardized testing, and in my opinion, the benefits of the true portfolio process are lost in the behaviorist/accountability model. I believe there is an opportunity cost when we approach portfolios from the “testing” approach (we lose the opportunity for deeper student learning). There are some early papers published on portfolios that discuss the “portfolio as story” (rather than the “portfolio as test”). ERIC document ED 377 209 Paulson & Paulson (1991) “Portfolios: Stories of Knowing”
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1jZAS8N6pVt8UwM2yqE5mnDgjaiUKR-RqOMaj2HGP8-E
(this is the article on my Google Drive)

In my research, the best implementation of DPs (digital portfolios) is at the High Tech High schools in the San Diego area. I have interviewed students there about their portfolios (they love them!) and you can see examples on their website: http://www.hightechhigh.org/digital_portfolios.php

If you want to review one of my most recent presentations, you will find it here: http://www.slideshare.net/eportfolios/epic2014-balancing
One of my favorite slides is Slide 43 (the underlying purpose of portfolios that goes back 2500 years).

I hope all these resources provide some insight into the dilemma your students face.  I also offer a free self-paced online course on ePortfolios using Google Apps: https://sites.google.com/site/k12eportfolioapps/  (even more resources!)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Faculty inquiry about ePortfolios in higher ed

I received the following email from an educator:
I am very interested in learning more about ePortfolios.  I can think of so many advantages to using them and find the idea very appealing.  However, I don't really know where to start.  I tried to connect with our IT people on campus this last summer and they don't have any expertise in this area.  Your website looks like a great place to start reading and learning for me.  Can you tell me when there might be an online course offered next, or a workshop in the general vicinity, please?  I am very interested in the topic.
Here is my response:

Thanks for the inquiry. Are you interested for your own students, or for the entire campus community? If for yourself, then you can start with a minimal investment of cost, time and effort. An organizational implementation involves a lot more planning and infrastructure.

Did you find my free self-paced online courses on developing ePortfolios (designed for K-12 teachers)?
https://sites.google.com/site/k12eportfolios/ (generic online tools)
https://sites.google.com/site/k12eportfolioapps/ (Google Apps)

Your students need to have some type of online space for their work (Storage). If your university has Google Apps for Education, your problem is solved. If not, your students will need to adopt an online storage space. I also like the free WordPress.com software for storing and organizing student work. There are links in my online class that discuss turning blogs into showcase portfolios. I like blogs because they are a great space for ongoing reflection on work. Here is a website that I developed to identify free online tools:
http://electronicportfolios.org/eportfolios/tools.html

I have several Sites that discuss developing ePortfolios with these tools:
https://sites.google.com/site/eportfolioapps/
https://sites.google.com/site/eportfolioswp/

I believe that adult students should own their own online ePortfolio webspace, rather than using a customized system owned by the university. Here is a link to the website at Salt Lake City Community College, where they support students using one of these free online tools:
http://www.slcc.edu/gened/eportfolio/
www.weebly.com
www.wordpress.com
sites.google.com
www.jimdo.com
www.wix.com
You might contact the folks at IUPUI in Indianapolis. They have a very well-developed ePortfolio program, although they have specific assessment goals and use customized tools.
http://academicaffairs.iupui.edu/PlansInitiatives/Initiatives/ePortfolio
You might contact Susan Kahn at IUPUI. They have an event planned for November.
I am not familiar with any universities in Ohio implementing ePortfolios.

There are also some events planned by AAEEBL (the professional ePortfolio organization for higher ed): http://www.aaeebl.org

Hopefully that gives you some place to start. Good luck.

Friday, July 11, 2014

EPIC 2014

Here is the page that I developed to support my three presentations at the Electronic Portfolios and Identity Conference (EPIC 2014) held in Cambridge, England, on July 9, 2014.
https://sites.google.com/site/mportfolios/workshops/epic
  1. Balancing the two faces of ePortfolios: emphasis on process/learning or product/evidence
  2. mPortfolios (using mobile devices to support reflection)
  3. ePortfolios to replace standardized assessments
This is the twelfth European ePortfolio Conference where I have made a keynote/presentation/workshop. Their emphasis is now more on Open Badges.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

ISTE 2014 Poster Session

Here is the page I developed for my poster session at ISTE 2014:
http://electronicportfolios.org/posters/index.html

Using Mobile Devices to Support Reflection in ePortfolios.

It was a great opportunity to share my resources on mPortfolios and to meet other educators.

Friday, July 12, 2013

EPIC 2013

Here is one of the presentations that I made during the Workshop day at EPIC in London, July 8, 2013:

Sunday, June 30, 2013

ISTE 2013

Here is the page that supported my ISTE workshop entitled: Create Interactive ePortfolios using GoogleApps: Docs/Drive, Picasaweb, Blogger, Sites: https://sites.google.com/site/k12eportfolioapps/syllabus/workshop-outline


I received some great feedback from a participant that he posted to his blog:
ePortfolios and Three Outstanding Options for Student Learning http://shar.es/1bMphq

I also led a Birds-of-a-Feather session on Supporting Reflection in Electronic Portfolios where we had some great discussions.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Workshops in Mexico

I just finished conducting two three-day workshops in Monterrey and Mexico City on implementing electronic portfolios for English Language Learners (to replace the TOEFL requirement). I put together a Google Site to support the training:
https://sites.google.com/site/eportfoliostec/
Here are my slides:

Couldn't agree more!

Just spent 10 days in Mexico, helping a university learn how to use Google Apps to create English Language e-portfolios for student learning and as an alternative or supplement to the TOEFL! Then I saw this cartoon! 
(Posted from my iPad with the Blogger app)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Bring Your Own ePortfolio?

In the plenary session at the ePIC 2012 conference in London, there was another discussion of the variety of ePortfolio tool options and whether we should encourage adults to "bring your own ePortfolio" to an educational institution. Since the online tools have become so robust and easy to use (Google Sites, Weebly), and online storage is readily available (Google Drive, Dropbox, Microsoft SkyDrive--now OneDrive), the barriers to lifelong ePortfolios are dropping rapidly. We can follow the example of Salt Lake Community College to require students to select from a variety of supported options: http://www.slcc.edu/gened/eportfolio/
Here are their tutorials using each tool.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Portfolios, Personalization and Passion

There were several themes at ISTE2012 that have reinforced my philosophy of ePortfolio implementation: personalizing education for each child, helping each child find their passion to be more creative and entrepreneurial.

Sir Ken Robinson led the opening keynote panel on the topic, "Redefining Horizons: Encouraging Students’ Passion to Achieve" with panelists Shawn Covell (of Qualcomm), author Marc Prensky, and actress/scientist Mayim Bialik. His book, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything, "is the point at which natural talent meets personal passion. When people arrive at the Element, they feel most themselves and most inspired and achieve at their highest levels."

Dr. Yong Zhao provided an interesting and entertaining presentation on "Global, Creative, and Entrepreneurial: Defining High-Quality Education."

Monday, June 25, 2012

ISTE 2012 presentations

I'm sitting in the Bloggers Café at ISTE in San Diego. Here are my slides for my presentation that I gave earlier today.
Thanks to Jackie Gerstein for taking this picture!
Here is a sample of the tweets from my presentation:
  • “@2footgiraffe: What? So what? And now what? Via @eportfolios #mnpstech #iste12” @CoachWagz
  • What? So what? And now what? Via @eportfolios #mnpstech #iste12
  • @eportfolios says: eportfolios are a type of "Academic MySpace" #iste12 #edtech
  • @eportfolios if you were building an ePortfolio from scratch and had no limits, what would your top 3 requirements be? #iste12
  • @eportfolios says: "Google believes in data liberation." Hah! #edtech #iste12
  • @eportfolios says: "Why google?...It's an integrated ecosystem." #iste12 #edtech
  • @eportfolios is a genius! #iste12
  • E portfolio is both process and product! #eportfolios @eportfolios #iste12
  • @eportfolios says "remember you are telling a story, not just any story...tell it with pride." #iste12 #edtech
  • The purpose (of portfolios) drives the process and content. Via @eportfolios #iste12
  • #iste12 we need a balanced outcome. Student centered and school centered. Via @eportfolios #mnpstech
  • @eportfolios Helen Barrett has been working w/eportfolios for 21+ yrs #iste12
  • Looking forward to hearing what Helen Barrett (@eportfolios) has to share about e-portfolios w/Google Apps #iste12
  • Excited to hear from @eportfolios AKA Helen Barrett on ePortfolios at #ISTE12
  • Where have I heard Dr. Helen Barrett before? It had to be another conference... #iste12 #eportfolios @eportfolios
  • Me 2 #pwsd RT @hglasser: Dr. Barrett http://ow.ly/bOArU @eportfolios - Student-Centered Interactive #eportfolios with #Google Apps #iste12
  • Packed room for @eportfolios interested to hear how sharing items via google in public venue- how are reflections handled #iste12
  • @hglasser @eportfolios Thank you both for the link to resources! #NAISTE #iste12
  • Dr. Helen Barrett http://ow.ly/bOArU @eportfolios - Student-Centered Interactive #eportfolios with #Google Apps #iste12
  • Student-Centered Interactive #Eportfolios by @eportfolios #SlideShare http://ow.ly/bOAAO #iste12
  • Got my seat for #eportfolios at #iste12! @eportfolios , I'm ready to learn!

Friday, June 08, 2012

Conference in Columbia, SC

I provided a keynote address and presentations at a Google Summit sponsored by the Richland Two School District in Columbia, SC in June 5-7, 2012. Here are my slides:


Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Google Docs now Google Drive

In April, Google announced the long-awaited Google Drive, which is an enhancement of Google Docs. Biggest change: similar to Dropbox, there is now a Google Drive application for desktop computers to "copy" the files to your desktop (although there are only links to the Google Docs). Instead of the 1 GB limit of Docs free storage, Drive allows 5 GB for free. Any document can be shared and can have a URL for hyperlinking from an ePortfolio (in Dropbox, documents with URLs need to be in the Public folder). GoogleDocs/Drive uses Collections which act like "tags" rather than folders... which means a document can be assigned to more than one collection (i.e., English and Portfolio).

Here are some interesting comparisons of the difference online storage services:

Monday, April 23, 2012

#SSCHAT on ePortfolios tonight

Here are my tweets on an hour-long Twitter chat on ePortfolios tonight using the hashtag #sschat . It is hard to follow the conversation while trying to provide some meaningful content, so I prepared a lot of these tweets in advance. I still found it to be a disjointed discussion... I guess. Of course, the order is reversed in my tweet history, so here is the order that I posted my tweets:
  • My #ePortfolios main website with links to lots of Google Sites: http://electronicportfolios.org/
  • Let's Answer 3 questions about #eportfolios: WHAT? WHY? HOW (including tools)? (in that order)
  • WHAT? define #portfolio: purposeful collection of student work demonstrating learning, progress, achievement over time.
  • WHAT? #eportfolios = #portfolio contents developed & stored electronically - online (now) dvd/cd (old model)
  • #ePortfolio processes=collect/archive, select/hyperlink, reflection/storytelling, direction/goals, present+feedback w/ choice&voice
  • What to collect in #eportfolio? depends on your purpose. - first step in the process - figure out your purpose.
  • WHAT? online #eportfolio similar to social networking processes: + sharing, interactivity & communication w/acadmic focus
  • WHAT? reflection of student as person undergoing continuous personal development, not just store of evidence (JISC-Rebbeck)
  • WHAT? evidence = artifacts (student work) + reflection (rationale/self-assessment) + validation (evaluation) depending on outcomes
  • #eportfolio artifacts can be text, images, audio, video - let students use imagination to demonstrate their leaning
  • WHY? What are your reasons/interests for student #eportfolios?
  • High stakes Standardized tests & #eportfolios come out of different paradigms of learning & assessment. behaviorism/constructivism
  • IMHO #eportfolios should be part of a strategy for lifelong learning, not only short term accountability
  • WHY? #eportfolios = persistent learning record gives students opportunities for taking ownership of their learning #NETP
  • #NETP=National Educational Technology Plan (2010). #ePortfolios on p.12 & 34 http://www.ed.gov/technology/netp-2010
  • #NETP Student-managed electronic learning portfolios part of persistent learning record & help students develop…
  • #NETP ...self-awareness required to set learning goals, express own views of strengths, weaknesses, and achievements…
  • #NETP ...& take responsibility for them.
  • There are student-centered #eportfolios that let them explore their purpose and passions & institution-centered EPs used for accountability
  • WHY #ePortfolios? 41 Benefits: http://kbarnstable.wordpress.com/2010/01/08/41-benefits-of-an-eportfolio/
  • HOW? Good resource from NZ: DIGITAL PORTFOLIOS: Guidelines for beginners http://myportfolio.school.nz/view/view.php?id=24719
  • HOW? Free online tools for #ePortfolio dev: http://electronicportfolios.org/eportfolios/tools.html
  • ePort processes:Capturing/storing evidence, Reflecting, Giving/receiving feedback, Planning/setting goals, Collaborating, Presenting
  • HOW? Free online #ePortfolio tools include: WordPress, GoogleApps, mobile apps, Weebly, Yola, Mahara, Digication (with Google)
  • HOW? K12 #ePortfolios with GoogleApps: http://sites.google.com/site/k12eportfolioapps/
  • HOW? 3 levels ePort Dev: 1.artifact dev&storage, 2.reflective journal (blog) 3.showcase portfolio
  • 3 levels come from my chapter Balancing the 2 Faces of #ePortfolios: http://electronicportfolios.org/balance/
  • Level 1 #ePortfolio: artifact development and storage online with URL. Tools: Google Docs, Dropbox, EPwebsites
  • Level 2 #ePortfolio: learning portfolio/reflective journal organized chronologically. Tools: blog (wordpress, Blogger, EPwebsites)
  • Level 3 #ePortfolio: showcase portfolios organized thematically Tools: Weebly, blog pages, Google Sites, EPwebsites
  • Popular specific #ePortfolio websites which also include blogs: Mahara (open source), Epsilen, Weebly
  • Website with lots of information/scaffolding reflection, especially in blogs & showcase portfolios: http://sites.google.com/site/reflection4learning/
  • Support Reflection in #ePortfolios using Mobile Devices: http://electronicportfolios.org/reflection/process/(my #ISTE12 poster session)
  • Facilitated online class Intro to #ePortfolios in K-12 begins next week. https://sites.google.com/site/k12eportfolios/
  • Learn more about #ePortfolios in self-paced or facilitated courses: http://electronicportfolios.org/academy/ Focus on GoogleApps, Mahara, mobiles
  • Some #ePortfolio-specific websites & GoogleApps can be kept private (behind passwords) to address FERPA concerns.
  • Was there consensus on whether to assess eportfolios? #sschat Do you mean give feedback (assess) or grade (evaluation)?
  • Depends on purpose. Feedback supports learning. Grading makes portfolio just another assignment. Want more!
  • Join me in online facilitated course starting next week: Intro to K-12 ePortfolios - using GoogleApps https://sites.google.com/site/k12eportfolioapps/
  • Online facilitated class starting May 1: Intro to K-12 ePortfolios (generic tools) https://sites.google.com/site/k12eportfolios/
  • Also learn about using mobile devices to support reflection in #ePortfolios https://sites.google.com/site/mportfolios/course-lessons

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Using Schoology to facilitate online course communication

During the first cohort of my online course, Introduction to K-12 ePortfolios, I used Edmodo as the environment for discussion. The normal process in conducting distance classes is usually through a structured course management system, such as Blackboard or Moodle. These systems are very instructor-centered. I wanted to use more student-centered tools, so why not use a social network? There are many available, including Facebook and Ning. Since this course was for K-12 teachers, I selected a tool that can be used in K-12 classrooms. Therefore, the primary social network was Edmodo, with some use of Google (Groups, Plus).

my Schoology Folders (Intro to K-12 ePortfolios course)
While Edmodo was easy to use, and looked like Facebook, it did not have true threaded discussion. While I could post a question, and the participants could reply to a post, there was no ability to reply to a reply. I also found it difficult to scroll back through all of the posts to find specific entries...the organization was chronological, not thematic (no one used tags). I tried setting up age-level groups, but they were not used by many of the participants. As a social network for schools, I think it is a great tool, but I was not happy with using it to facilitate my course. So I went looking for another online service.

Years ago, I used NiceNet, so I opened a new account, and set up a course, but I was not happy with the text-only nature of the website (it is a voluntary effort that hasn't changed much in the last ten years). I'm also not sure it does the type of threaded discussion I am seeking. I have taught courses using Blackboard, so I opened a course under their free CourseSites service. I know Blackboard supports the kind of threaded discussion I want. I have also used Moodle, but I'm not sure I have the time to find a reliable free hosting site.

While in Canby School District in early April, I asked about recommendations for a learning management system and was told about Schoology. So, I signed up for an account, and spent most of today setting up my course. I am impressed! I was able to set up folders and organize all of the course activities for each lesson within the appropriate folder. I could hide some of the materials on the site, giving participants a simple interface shown here. I even copied a lot of the content from the course Google Site, so that most of the course information is in one place, but it retained the links to the resources in my Google Site. I also like the Calendar, where I can announce our live events to be held using Google+ Hangouts.  Oh yes, it also has an iOS app!
Schoology course calendar

The next cohort begins May 1, but participants in the first cohort can also join this group. I have also changed the time frame for the course. Participants can proceed at their own pace through the course materials. I will conduct weekly Hangouts for the course participants as online Office Hours, where I will respond to individual questions and learning needs. Register by April 30, 2012.