Sunday, August 19, 2007

ePortfolio Institute at Stanford

I had the privilege of participating in an ePortfolio conference at Stanford last week. In two days, more than 26 participants came together to plan their ePortfolio implementations. A few were from the private sector, and one person was from a local high school, but most from higher education. There were participants from Guatemala, Japan and New Zealand as well as across the U.S. But what impressed me most was how they modeled the use of technology. Helen Chen and the staff at the Stanford Center for Innovations in Learning, drew on the extensive research done at Stanford on Folio Thinking. Leaders of the EPAC, Tracy Penny-Light and John Ittelson, led the group in the planning process and technology implementation. Toru Iiyoshi of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching introduced the KEEP Toolkit for the participants to use. Their guest dinner speaker was Jim Gemmel of Microsoft, who spoke about the MyLifeBits research project. I was a last minute addition to the schedule, and I spoke about digital storytelling, Web 2.0 tools, and assessment for learning.

I was most impressed by the way they used technology. The institute was held in Wallenberg Hall, where Stanford explores many innovations in teaching and learning, so there was wireless Internet. Everyone was encouraged to bring laptops, and there were extras to use. The conference established a PBWiki site, and one graduate student was assigned to document the activities of the conference in the wiki. Everyone was given a page in the wiki to document their thoughts. There was extensive use of digital cameras, as well as the small handheld USB Flip Video cameras which were used to record reflections on the process. I was privileged to interview three individuals and one team about their reflections at the end of the workshop, using the Flip cameras. They also used traditional technologies, like white boards, markers and sticky notes. I'm not sure if the participants realized how much they experienced the process of creating an ePortfolio, especially using the wiki and video reflections. I really appreciated how the workshop leaders modeled the process.

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