Picking up again, after my blog entry while in Salzburg, I started working on a new web page (and potential workshop) that would focus on using Web 2.0 tools for ePortfolios. This web page started initially as a handout for a workshop at the KIPP conference in New Orleans earlier this week, that I co-facilitated with one of my REFLECT teacher leaders. In this workshop, we provided an audience of primarily middle school teachers with an overview of authentic assessment and hands-on experience with two different approaches to doing electronic portfolios, first with Word/Excel and then with TaskStream. The experience gave them two ends of the e-portfolio spectrum: the most basic tools, and the highest end tool. We then provided them with resources to continue exploring these options, including information from Think.com and a 30-day trial account with TaskStream. We got very good feedback on the form that we built into TaskStream (modeling its instant data collection and aggregation features). I was pleased with this workshop, even though I thought it should have been a full day with the hands-on activities. Working on the agenda, I learned from my co-facilitator about WikiSpaces and Think.com, which I have already written about in this blog!
While researching this entry, I came across some more interesting articles about the impact of social networking sites (like MySpace) on college admissions and employment. I have written about this issue in a prior blog entry. I recently heard about 6th grade girls who were suspended for posting negative comments about their teacher on MySpace. As mentioned in the Business Week article, "there is no such thing as an eraser on the Internet." Perhaps instead of ignoring (or blocking) these websites, schools have a role in educating students about the long-term consequences of their actions (or postings). At the very least, parents should be educated about both the positive and negative implications of some of these new online services, that are attracting adolescents by the millions. (I just found Wired Magazine's MySpace Cheat Sheet for Parents.) In the last month, I heard that MySpace is now the #1 website on the Internet in terms of visitors. How can we replicate the intrinsic motivation of these social networking sites in the service of learning, while protecting students from the negative impacts?