I was in Brooklyn all week, conducting workshops for the New York City Schools, Office of Education Technology for South Brooklyn, Staten Island. I knew they were interested in electronic portfolios, because I had email communication since last spring. We held our first training this week, showing teachers how to create their own portfolios with Google Docs and Google Sites. The first two-day workshop was held Monday and Tuesday, and was overflowing (we moved to a larger room the second day). The second workshop was supposed to begin on Wednesday, but was postponed for a day because of the snowstorm that hit the New York area. I heard about 50 MPH winds hitting the Empire State Building, knocking out satellite dishes for cable TV, but it was just snow in Brooklyn. I had a day off, and postponed my flight to return later on Friday.
I am impressed with the interest in e-portfolios in this program. It is also refreshing to see the emphasis on teaching portfolios as well as student portfolios… that to really appreciate the process, teachers need to construct their own portfolios before trying to implement them with students. I am also impressed with their commitment to learning portfolios for students, not for accountability. I am interested in being able to demonstrate the value of formative, self-assessment portfolios before they might get co-opted for summative assessment.
I just found out that New York City Schools is adopting a combination of ePals (for student mail and collaboration) with GoogleApps (minus GMail) next year. That makes the training that I did this week very relevant for them. They are also looking for schools in other parts of the world to collaborate. As more educational institutions adopt Google Apps, they have a ready tool for building interactive portfolios.
I'll be back in March (on my way back from India), and will be working under a different grant, where I will focus on e-portfolios as professional development environments for teachers (online personal learning environments).