Thursday, January 27, 2005

Launching the REFLECT Initiative

I am at the Florida Educational Technology Conference (FETC) where today we unveiled the REFLECT Initiative, a research project to assess the impact of electronic portfolios on student learning, motivation and engagement in secondary schools. REFLECT is an acronym that stands for Researching Electronic portFolios: Learning, Engagement, Collaboration through Technology (I LOVE it!). This research project will be underwritten by TaskStream and I am the Project Director. The website explains the project and the application process.

I am really excited about the possibilities that could result from this project. It will be a meta-study of a lot of smaller site-based studies. The real benefit of the project will be an 18-month online professional development program for the teachers involved in the project. I will have an opportunity to modify my existing distance course to meet the needs of the participants in each site.

So, this is my mission once the PT3 grant is over in March. When I was approached by the TaskStream team about this two-year project, I had to think seriously about how this project would affect my objectivity about electronic portfolio tools. However, the team has been very sensitive to my concerns, and the study participants could compare the use of TaskStream with control groups of students who use other "common tools" to create their e-portfolios (or paper-based portfolios, or no portfolios). This is also effectiveness research, not market research.

Here is a picture of the booth on the Exhibit floor.

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