Wednesday, July 26, 2006

WikiSpaces for ePortfolios

This is the 20th tool that I have used to create my electronic portfolio. After I figured out that the new pages that I created did not automatically appear in the Navigation Menu (and that I needed to manually construct that menu on the left side of the screen), the process moved pretty smoothly. All URLs are automatically converted to weblinks. The tool allowed me to reconstruct my portfolio in less than an hour, copying the information from various online portfolios, including my Mozilla portfolio, where I had the URLs on the page (not just links). I easily uploaded my only file artifact (on the Portfolio-at-a-Glance page). All of my other artifacts are web links. The program gives the capability of uploading any type of a file, and then linked from any of the pages. This is a type of digital archive, where student work can be uploaded for later use. Their website says that they allow 2 GB of online storage (the largest I have seen) but it does not appear to allow organizing files into folders.

This system has the potential to offer interactivity, since each page can be edited by members of my WikiSpace. Therefore, I added a few ideas at the bottom of most pages that could be used to offer feedback on the artifacts and reflections listed on the page. Each page can also have a discussion attached to it. When I forgot to save the changes to a page, when I went back to that page, the program gave me the choice to reload the draft. Nice feature.

The tool has the ability to "Embed Media" but I have not implemented that feature. It looks like you add a link to a piece of media that is posted to another website, like youtube or odeo. I was able to add links by simply including the full URL but when the links are followed, they stay in the same browser window. I prefer to have the links open a new window (and the portfolio remains open) so that when an artifact is opened, the reader can close the window and easily return to the portfolio, rather than using the Back button.

A feature that I really like is the ability to backup the most recent copies of the pages in a space in HTML (or wikitext) and save the archive to my hard drive. That is a feature that I think is a requirement for an ePortfolio system. It backs up all files to the desktop computer, and maintains hyperlinks but not the navigation menu.

There is also no data management tool, to aggregate assessment data. Therefore, this tool would work for formative assessment (providing teacher and peer feedback on student work) but not for summative assessment. But the process for adding comments and feedback would need to be agreed upon with the readers, just as I have placed suggestions at the bottom of some of these pages.

WikiSpaces is offered free of charge to K12 teachers. This tool is not as easy to use or intuitive as, nor as elegant as iWeb. However, it is accessible to individuals as well as schools. The very nature of a wiki is shared writing, so this tool might work well for collaborative development of ePortfolios.


Carole @ Wodonga said...

Hi Helen, you're blog entry came across my desktop today in a very timely manner. Currently we wish to develop a collaborative blog and eportfolio for project team members who are engaging in digital storytelling creation. Does the Wikispaces enable uploads of large files? Would it be useful for young and older alike?

Helen Barrett said...

The Wikispace limit is 2 GB, and they allow embedding within a page. So I think it would handle video. Because it is an open system, I'm not sure I would use it with young children. Treat it like MySpace: open and unprotected, although you can create a closed account that only members can see.