Thursday, July 23, 2009

Another ePortfolio Model

Derek Wenmoth, of CORE-ED in New Zealand, published this image in his blog last year, focusing on Conceptualising e-Portfolios. I found this link in a discussion group established by the Ministry of Education in New Zealand on Managed Learning Environments (MLE), "the software and digital content that suppoort learning."

This diagram is very similar to several of my model diagrams, where the storage/repository is separate from the presentation portfolio that I might construct in different systems (as I have done in my "Online Portfolio Adventure"). In all of these diagrams, I have focused on the storage issues with ePortfolios; if we could solve the storage/management issues (a lifelong repository?) then the ePortfolio presentation issues will be more manageable. In the NZ MLE discussion, Trevor Storr made the following suggestion:
Lets assume that we have a national data store for our ePortfolio Applications (note the 's'). Different ePortfolios would access the data store (I could imagine at least one funding model for this). Now if the data store was a simple database that could be mapped to open ePortfolio standards then the data would easily be used by different applications with little user intervention.

The benefit of this approach is that to use the national ePortfolio data store vendors will have to map the database to whatever standard they choose. Secondly, the problem of portability (at a user level) is avoided. Finally, as standards evolve, database fields can be mapped to match the standard.

In summary: the data does not have to move between ePortfolio applications if applications are able to access a single data store that can be mapped to the relevant standard(s).
That is the model that I have been advocating for several years. A year ago, I explored different online storage systems for creating this digital repository. A database of artifacts that is maintained over a lifetime is the centerpiece of Derek's diagram, and should be central to our thinking about next generation ePortfolio tools. In the MLE discussion, Russell responded:
I'm with Trevor here,
I don't think interoperability is about where the components of artefacts/DLO's or artefacts themselves sit or are stored. I think its about the ability of LMS's/Eportfolio's to aggregate that stuff in a way that preserves some chronology and preserves a time stamped example of work. (along with appropriate related assessment) We're already in an age of mashups where a creative online artefact or piece of work may be sucking a component out of flickr or animoto and being combined with text in a blogger type environment. We have a whole cluster of kids in Tamaki, from Y1 -Y13 already creating content in this environment. For me, & I think our cluster, an eportfolio needs to be able to access a set of time stamped artefacts that were created on or offline, (some of the online ones being multi-sourced mashups), that the school & student identify as being part of the student's cumulative record of work. Copies of these artefacts/DLO's could sit in one central repository (as Trevor suggested) and individuals ought to be able to rearrange their portfolio's with different examples of content to suit different purposes over time. I see the portfolio as an overlay and an organiser for this content. I see a developmental continuum of teacher organisation gradually giving way to learner organisation in respect of how this stuff is managed and owned.
OK, Google, when is the Google WebDrive going to be released? The ePortfolio community is ready! What do we need? EMBED codes or drag-and-drop HYPERLINKS to our artifacts in an online data storage system!

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