Monday, September 27, 2004

TaskStream and others

I created online portfolio #12 using TaskStream, one of the first commercial systems, which began originally as a lesson/unit plan builder and rubric wizard for teachers. Their portfolio was added in the last few years, in response to the market. I know that the developers have tried to be responsive to the needs of their customers; they recently added a "folio assessment and data reporting system" to meet accreditation and licensure requirements, and are adding a video server in the coming year. I also know that they have used some of my ideas in their development...their matrix of artifacts and standards was code-named the "Helen Barrett matrix" during development. So, I decided it was long overdue for me to get my hands on this system.

I was impressed with the number of templates that were pre-designed for the presentation portfolios. If you don't know anything about HTML AND you have a Windows computer, this would be a very nice tool. However, as a Mac user, I had to use an HTML version of my documents to be able to get HTML code into the pages. And the coded links didn't work once I published the portfolio, so I really didn't need to use HTML at all.

My conclusion about this system is that it provides a very powerful set of tools for teachers and teacher education students. I have not used the other tools (Unit Builder, Lesson Builder, Rubric Wizard or the Communication tools) since I was only replicating my portfolio. I am also impressed that the system allocates 100MB of storage space, enough for all of the digital video that I have used in this portfolio (linked to other server space that I have). The system has a menu to "Manage Online Storage" and a way to inventory all of the documents that were uploaded. I can see why this is a very popular system in Teacher Education programs.

I briefly looked at the websites for the other commercial tools that market to Teacher Education programs (LiveText, Chalk & Wire, FolioTek) and other higher education tools (ePortaro, nuventive). Only one of them offers a trial version online to be able to try out their program (FolioTek, but it wasn't automatic...I am still waiting for a call from a sales rep). Chalk & Wire and LiveText advertise that they offer unlimited storage space for their customers' portfolios. The other websites don't indicate their storage limits.

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