Monday, June 21, 2010

Barcelona Beginnings

Today, I began a 2.5 day ePortfolios with GoogleApps workshop with secondary teachers at Colegio Montserrat in Barcelona, Spain. To help me adjust to jet lag, we started today's workshop at 3 PM. For the next two days, we will start at 9 AM.

Today, we started with a version of the presentation that I did at Castilleja School in Palo Alto two weeks ago, but because I only had a half day in that workshop and here I have 2.5 days, I only covered part of the presentation today...  I was conscious that I was being simultaneously translated, so I slowed down my pace. After our coffee break, all the participants logged in to their brand new Google Apps Education domain and I introduced many of the teachers to GoogleDocs for the first time. They wrote up a few notes about what they learned from my presentation, and then I showed them how to share their document with a partner. Their assignment before tomorrow: upload some of their professional teaching documents into GoogleDocs to build their digital archive. I discovered that now GoogleDocs will convert .docx and .xlsx files from MS Office 2007+, but not .pptx. You are still able to upload those newest Powerpoint file types, but they were saved in the original format, not converted to GoogleDocs.

I thought it was a pretty successful short first day. Tomorrow we will begin to use Google Sites to build their professional teaching portfolios. All of the teachers have laptops (mostly Windows Vista) and the secondary students will have netbooks next year. For the school this is the ideal time to convert their existing student Powerpoint portfolios into an online format. The school received training from my colleague Evangeline Harris Stefanakis several years ago, so they have a good grounding in portfolio theory. Tomorrow, I will be sharing strategies for developing Interactive Portfolios using GoogleApps. It was good to start with GoogleDocs today, since it follows my three-level process, beginning with a collection of digital documents. (A version of a journal article discussing this 3-level process was just published in English in a Portuguese Educom journal in PDF.)

Working in two languages is interesting... slows me down and simplifies my vocabulary. The translator told me I was doing fine. Reminds me of the workshop I did in Japan over 3 years ago... the first time I used GoogleDocs to develop ePortfolios. Since that time, I have seen major changes to GoogleApps, into a very rich toolset for developing student-centered ePortfolios, especially in schools and colleges adopting GoogleApps Education Edition for GMail. I can hardly wait until Google releases additional tools inside all versions of GoogleApps. I am hoping that Picasa, Reader and Blogger are available by September; I am also hoping that a protected version of YouTube will also be available soon, since video storage is a major issue in schools. Through the GoogleApps Marketplace, there are other great add-ons inside GoogleApps, some of them free, such as the Aviary Tools for image editing, voice recording and music creation. I wonder if Aviary is also working on a video editing tool? That would almost complete the toolset!

Part 2 of the workshop tomorrow. Should I introduce these teachers to digital stories in ePortfolios? I'm told they all know MovieMaker. Hmmm... Erin, my workshop assistant/daughter, isn't with me. I'll have to ask them tomorrow after we get through Google Sites. I'm not sure I can handle more than 20 teachers doing digital stories, while I am fighting jet lag! Stay tuned!

UPDATE: I introduced them to Digital Storytelling for two hours in the late afternoon, using my hands-on activity using seven images and a single audio file. They were excited to explore further on their own! On the last day, we explored more on reflection and feedback, and I introduced them to ietherpad. Then they used that tool to begin writing a vision statement for ePortfolios in their school.


FC said...

Hi Helen, I came across your site as I was doing some research about e-portfolios. I'm working on my own e-portfolio right now and your blog is a great resource! :)

Anyway, you said, "I am also hoping that a protected version of YouTube will also be available soon..."

An alternative would be to use YouTube's unlisted feature. Basically, an unlisted video won't appear in search. You have to have the video's link in order to access it. Similar to GoogleDocs.

Dr. Helen Barrett said...

The problem is that YouTube URLs are blocked in many schools, and I am assuming that if YouTube videos were included inside GoogleApps Education domains, that they would not be blocked.