I just finished conducting an ePortfolio workshop in Mexico City. Initially, they thought they would use the Blackboard Content System (the older version); but instead, they want me to use one of the free online tools, so I introduced them to the Google tools. They contacted me because they liked my White Paper that I wrote almost three years ago.
During the workshop, we covered my basic workshop about e-portfolios and planning (in the first morning) then we started the hands-on component. In the first afternoon, the participants created a Google account, and set up a blog in Blogger. I showed them how to make comments on their neighbor's blog, illustrating the interactivity that would be useful in a blog/learning journal. Then, I introduced them to GoogleDocs Document tool, and we created a basic portfolio document, just like I used to do using Word, only this time, the files were all online. They also learned how to Share these documents with their neighbors, and add comments or co-author their portfolios. This morning, we continued with the hands-on component, when I introduced them to the GoogleDocs Presentation tool. Since we were on a wireless network that required a proxy server, we had some technical issues and the speed was very slow. I then introduced them to the Google Pages tool, which also proved to be a problem for a few of the participants. We talked about the pros and cons of the different Google tools and their use in ePortfolio development, and finally I gave them the presentation on digital storytelling that I did at the National Council for the Social Studies conference last Friday. At the end of the workshop, I think the participants really appreciated becoming acquainted with the many new free online tools that they and their students could use. In the afternoon, I led an hour-long conversation about e-portfolios with those attendees who could not get into my workshop (I told them that I limit hands-on workshops to 30 people).
This private university, which also includes private high schools, has more than 33 campus locations all over Mexico. The head of their Academic Affairs discussed (in Spanish) their new program for implementing faculty e-portfolios for assessing competencies in their areas of professional development, including cooperative learning, project-based learning, case studies, and negotiation. They did not intend to implement any specific software for faculty portfolios, but would let faculty choose their own tools. Thank goodness my new friend, Kathy (principal of one of the brand new high schools) was taking notes in English, and was able to show me what was being said. This conference also had keynote addresses about ethics in higher education (also in Spanish) and communities of practice (by Etienne Wenger in English).
I was most impressed by the organization of the meeting (I have a new fancy nametag to add to my collection): I had someone to guide me everywhere I went on their campus, I was wined and dined every evening, and I had a private chauffeur drive me to and from the airport. I don't think I have been treated so royally by any other university since my PT3 grant was over. They also were very warm and patient participants, speaking to me in English (I don't speak Spanish), and translating when needed. I did my presentation in English (the participants in my workshop were required to bring their own laptops and to speak English). Overall, I hope I have more opportunities to work with them. I am on a real high!