Thursday, October 28, 2010

PrPl and PCB: a new e-portfolio environment in the cloud?

Stanford University has been doing research on e-portfolios for more than ten years, and the latest article by Kim, Ng, and Lim provides the most interesting framework I have seen: PrPl Semantic Index and Personal Cloud Butler (PCB). It matches my concept of the Digital Archive for Life (2009)

This article (in the British Journal of Educational Technology, Volume 41, Issue 6, pages 1018–1028, November 2010) is pretty exciting: "When cloud computing meets with Semantic Web: A new design for e-portfolio systems in the social media era."  The abstract:
The need, use, benefit and potential of e-portfolios have been analysed and discussed by a substantial body of researchers in the education community. However, the development and implementation approaches of e-portfolios to date have faced with various challenges and limitations. This paper presents a new approach of an e-portfolio system design based on Private–Public (PrPl) data index system, which integrates cloud computing applications and storages with Semantic Web architecture, making semantic web-based visualisation and advanced intelligent search possible. It also discusses how the distinctive attributes of the PrPl-based digital asset management system can serve as a large-scale robust e-portfolio system that can address issues with scalability, sustainability, adoptability and interoperability. With such a new distinctive design, a large-scale deployment at a state or national level becomes possible at a very cost-effective manner and also such large-scale deployment with intelligent digital asset management and search features create numerous opportunities in education.
The following article about the Personal Cloud Butler (PCB) is referenced in the document, "A Distributed Social-Networking Infrastructure with Personal-Cloud Butlers."

The PrPl/PCB system uses the mobile phone number as the unique user ID, which restricts its use in K-12 schools, since students don't often have phones until they are in high school... but there are also Google Voice numbers!

I recently started using Mint.com. It is an aggregator for a person's financial data. In my mint.com account, I see all of my financial data aggregated in one window: my TSA, checking and savings accounts, mortgage balance, assets, loan balances, and my brokerage account (if I had one!). The system pulls data from these different accounts (with my permission, of course) to provide an overall picture of my financial capital or monetary assets. The system is created by the makers of Quicken, and uses an email address as a unique user ID.

We need a similar system for human capital or intellectual assets of knowledge workers. Some think that tool is an online vita with hyperlinks. Others think it is an e-portfolio, although I believe an e-portfolio goes beyond the "accounting" function, and the portfolio process supports the development of these competencies (knowledge/skills/abilities). That's why I think this article is so interesting. We can store our evidence in many places online (a federated cloud-based storage system); we just need a tool to aggregate that data for different purposes and different audiences.

Of course, there are a lot of e-portfolio systems which match evidence of achieving outcomes defined by any number of rubrics, aggregating faculty-generated assessment data. The challenge is that these systems impose a structure that often doesn't facilitate learner creativity and personalization. But other systems have been set up to "harvest" assessment data from learner-owned web-based portfolios, such as WSU's Harvesting Gradebook or BSU's rGrade system. Right now, these systems are server-based, and it would be great if they were converted into SaaS, available in the cloud.

I am doing a lot of training in using GoogleApps Education Edition for student portfolios in K-12 schools: artifacts stored in Google Docs/Picasa/YouTube (a PrPl database would be useful here); a reflective journal in Blogger; and thematically-organized presentation portfolios in Google Sites, especially for those states and institutions that have "gone Google." What is also missing from that whole environment is a system to collect evaluation data based on rubrics. For me, that is another missing link in using some of these Web 2.0 tools for learner-centered e-portfolios while assessing learner outcomes against rubrics.

1 comment:

sb said...

I'm new to portfolios and appreciate your posts...still a long way from having read thru your blog... I'm a person who is playing with eportfolios to use with my grad students in a Marriage & Family Therapy clinical Training Program. Our training includes a number of reflective exercises that helps to grow the person of the therapist to learn and recognize their own values & beliefs while integrating and synthesizing theory and their own life experiences. So from an assessment perspective, there are a number of questions that arise. What is one assessing? Quality of reflection? values? competency standards? what practice is not without values? So whose values?

The question(s) that comes up for me, as I read this post is related to the invitation to step outside the box modeled on "mint" (which I too use & love it) for a system of intellectual assets: What is this system that we want to create? Is it for intellectual assets? Should the student's learning be "reduced" to intellectual assets? Or how else should we frame it? System of Life-long Learning? I believe that the way we label this is crucial to how we construct "Human Capital" as we live the stories we tell. And our virtual asset story can take on a life of its own, so not only how do we want to story our lives but also how do we, as a society-community of practice, want to "structure" infrastructures for such virtual asset stories? We as humans are shaped by forms (among other things) and inturn shape the forms around us, performing a recursive process of product and process of our lives. As educators we are shaped by one of the needs to assess/evaluate (forms) that shape the way we create and what we create within the learning spaces. How would we be creating if the frame was not to assess/evaluate? What would we construct if these were not the frames as in the "gone google" environments where these frames are missing? So how do we step outside our box of evaluation/assessment?

Yours in creating....our everyday practices for living!