Friday, July 22, 2005

Final N.Z. Report

I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to New Zealand, taking this opportunity to reflect on my last two days. My conversations with the Ministry of Education on Tuesday were very interesting. In my first meeting with the tertiary (higher education) group, we talked about the need for coordination between the various sectors. We also talked about the potential for using Interact, which I will be following the development with great interest. There was some discussion about Moodle, but I didn't know if an e-portfolio component was under development, like with Interact. We emphasized the importance of building a digital archive that would follow a learner across the different sectors.

My meeting with the early childhood people was most interesting. They shared with me their curriculum materials (I took home a notebook, CD and DVDs, which I still need to read/watch). We found a lot of common ground. They showed me some of their "learning stories" and I showed them excerpts from my granddaughter's e-portfolio. I also showed them some digital stories and we talked about the possibilities with some of their early childhood centers. Many of those learning stories contained digital images plus text, so I explained (very briefly) the process of taking digital images and turning them into short videos with narration (digital stories).

On Wednesday, I met with a group at the University of Auckland. They were intending to use the Open Source Portfolio, and we had a long discussion over lunch about the philosophy of portfolios (purpose, audience, student-centered vs. institution-centered, etc.). When I made the statement that electronic portfolios should begin a birth and last a lifetime, one member of their group immediately said, "I agree!" From then on, our conversation focused around the need for compatibility across educational sectors (echoes of my discussion on the previous day). They mentioned the "Plunkett book" that every child in New Zealand receives at birth from a visiting nurse, where their growth and development is recorded. There was a lot of energy in our discussion around the digitization of the contents of that book, even imagining the potential for digitally updating those records using wireless technology like the delivery truck drivers have now!

We also talked about Donald Norman's concept of the "information appliance" and the direction of the iPod/Palm/iPaq/PDA technologies. We did a lot of visioning and also discussed the upcoming semantic web, something that I really need to study in more detail.

I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation. What is intriguing to me is the potential for these visions to become a reality in a country the size of New Zealand. Of course, the infrastructure requirements need to be addressed, especially that seamless digital archive of a learner's development/life work, from cradle to retirement and beyond. Reminds me of that article in Educause that I mentioned in an earlier blog entry.
Beyond the Electronic Portfolio: A Lifetime Personal Web Space
Rather than limit people to the e-portfolio model, why not develop a model providing a personal Web space for everyone, for their lifetimes and beyond?

Those possibilities press so many of my hot buttons: e-portfolios, digital stories of deep learning, digital family stories, autobiographies, etc. I feel so privileged to be a part of these conversations. I am so thankful for this opportunity. I look forward to continuing this dialogue with educators in New Zealand. It is so exciting to follow what is possible when there is a will, and not too much bureaucracy to get in the way!

1 comment:

Eddie Reisch said...

I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation at The MoE in Wellington Helen thank you for helping me to grow my knowledge of digital portfolios. After our chat I contacted Glen (The Interact guy) and made sure we chatted as he develops the tools for the ePortfolios. Have a look at our site http://www.virtuallearning.school.nz for the brokerage of classes across NZ and let me know what you think?
My email is eddie.reisch@minedu.govt.nz
Hope you had a pleasant and safe trip home.
Regards Eddie