Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Blogging on Paper

I found the following blog entry:
Learning to Blog Using Paper - a 7th Grade Teacher's clever introduction to blogging (starting with a paper exercise) and using "sticky notes" as comments. Here are the instructions for students (provided in Scribd):
- Seventh Grade Blogging Rules
- The Art and Aspirations of a Commenter

These are great guidelines for reflection and feedback by adolescents. It also looks like a great PD activity for teachers who are not familiar with blogging. 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

e-Portfolios in Developing Countries (using mobile phones)

I received this "feel good" email:
I am deeply grateful for the excellent articles you have posted on e-portfolio on your website.  You would not know the great service you are providing to less fortunate educators in Third and Developing World that are not as nearly as priveleged as people in the developed world.  At the moment I am doing a course (Masters in Instructional Technology and Design) with the Open University of Malaysia.  One of the courses, involves the preparation of a e-portfolio as a final project.  I was just about reaching a point of frustration, because I did not know exactly how to set about doing this project.  I clustermate of mine who is also involved in the program, referred me to your Website, and you took care of my problems.  You are really a genius, professor.  Your knowledge is vast.  What is even greater, is your unselfish resolution to publish make such a rish deposit available to us the less fortunate.  Words cannot expess my gratitude.  May I encourage you to keep up the good work, and never falter in the work you are doing for the less fortunate, for you shall reap a rich reward in due season.  You are truly a missionary to poor countries.
P.S:  Do you have anything on the use of mobile phone text messaging (SMS) to teach children who are functionally illiterate.  My final thesis is in this area, because the population of Jamaica is appox 2.7 million people, with 2.4 million Mobile phone users, yet they have banned its use in many schools for some of the same reasons it is banned elsewhere.  My purpose is to show that the technology or tool can be used constructively.
Of course, I am flattered by the kind comments. His P.S. raises concerns about access to the Internet in developing countries. I received this comment in a message from Trent Batson, AAEEBL's Executive Director:
...we heard a woman from Guatemala lamenting that few kids have Internet access but "everyone has cell phones."  Not smart phones, yet, but at least that's doable for places like Guatemala.
I've also been communicating with educators from Egypt to Brazil, and because of the lack of connectivity, I often write to them about implementing ePortfolios with tools we were using in the late 90s. (I read a recent report about the high cost of Internet access in developing countries compared to average monthly income.) But the universal connectivity tool is the cell phone. My granddaughter updates her Facebook status here in the U.S. from her cell phone (not a smart phone). I want to learn more about connectivity from cell phones with online generic tools used to develop ePortfolios, such as GoogleApps and WordPress. I know it is possible with smartphone apps, but most of the developing world is using SMS. I will do another post soon about the iPhone Portfolio apps I have been collecting.

Friday, September 17, 2010

K-12 and Higher Education ePortfolio Support

What is the most effective way to meet the needs of K-12 schools for supporting the implementation of ePortfolios? Is there a need to bring ePortfolio information/resources/training to events that K-12 teachers normally attend, such as ASCD, ISTE, NSDC, BLC, and other K-12 education conferences? We can spin our wheels, and not get much traction if we don't recognize the differences between the K-12 and higher education cultures. I spent eight years in K-12, six as the Staff Development Coordinator for the Fairbanks School District, and another 14 years in the Teacher Education program at the University of Alaska Anchorage. I have seen both sides of education, although I didn't start studying ePortfolios until I arrived in Anchorage. Most of my work with ePortfolios in the 90s was focused on K-12, but with the PT3 grants, my focus shifted to higher education in 2000. In 2005-2007, I conducted a research project on implementing ePortfolios in secondary schools, sponsored by Taskstream. Since that time, my consulting time has been more focused on K-12. Perhaps some of my more recent experiences can illustrate some of the differences between K-12 and Higher Ed.

I did make a connection with one of the few K-12 educators attending AAEEBL's July 2010 conference (which was co-located with another higher education conference), and I will be working with her organization on some K-12 ePortfolio activities, still to be developed. (But they have little or no funding... another problem with K-12.) I am also continuing my self-funded research on how ePortfolios are being implemented in K-12 schools: In October, I am planning to visit several High Tech Highs in the San Diego area, where they have been implementing digital portfolios with every student since the first school opened in 2000. In mid-October, the students are leading student-led conferences, so I am getting permission to observe and to conduct some short focus groups with students and to talk with the lead teachers.

Earlier this week, I conducted a two-day planning/training session with a small school district in North Dakota that wants to begin implementing ePortfolios over the next two-three years. I met with a committee of teacher leaders for a day, then made a presentation to the entire district (60 teachers!) for a couple of hours, followed by an activity where I led the committee through the Change Game (a simulation to move a school district through the stages of change). I also had both principals and the superintendent participating in this two-hour simulation. The district is planning two more early release days before I go back in January for a two-day hands-on workshop. So the committee and I planned how they could best use that time. We also set up a Google Group to maintain communication between face-to-face meetings. This is similar to the work that I did for the last two years with a small school district in California.

I did 10 days of face-to-face workshops under a Title IID grant (No Child Left Behind) for New York City Schools last spring. I am working via Skype with an individual high school in Manhattan, where the lead teacher is a Google Certified Teacher, so I am learning a lot from how her teachers and students are beginning to implement ePortfolios across the school. I hope to visit that school when I am in New York in December, to see how the process is going.

Last spring, I visited the American School of Bombay, after conducting monthly 45-minute teleconferences for them (over their lunch hour or before school). While in the school, I had appointments to meet with individual teachers or groups of teachers. I saw some wonderful examples from their third grade students! In June, I visited a private school in Barcelona, and with simultaneous translation, introduced them to using GoogleApps for ePortfolios over three days. I also provided a full day workshop at a private school in California after school was out in June.

The K-12 culture is very different from higher education. Professional development is very different, their reasons for implementing ePortfolios are different, and the tools/strategies they use are also different. Most schools don't have the level of technology support that you will find in most higher ed institutions (unless they are a private or international school). The time constraints are also very different. They squeeze in PD in one- and two-hour blocks. But from my observations from the Intermediate (middle) school that I visited in New Zealand, it is the small incremental trainings on a regular basis (before and after school) that makes a difference in how well teachers implement technology in teaching and students' learning.

That's what I am trying to document in my book! It is slow work, but I am gathering lots of good observational data and lots of resources along the way. Any other examples of success stories of implementing ePortfolios beyond a single classroom? For those with experience in both K-12 and higher education, what do you see as the differences?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

GoogleApps Education and Blogger

The message was posted to the Google for Educators Discussion Group:
Blogger has been added to the Educational Edition but the transition won't occur enmass until later this fall. Your GoogleDomain administrator can transition people to the new apps by going in the admin dashboard and "transitioning" users. I love it, I can now embed my Picasa3 slideshows and create an iGoogle page with RSS feeds, this will make school portfolios so much richer. 
I totally agree! When will Blogger be universally available in Google Apps Education Edition?

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Kindergarten Portfolios with Blogger

I'm doing online research for my book, and found some great examples of using Blogger to create ePortfolios in Kindergartens. Here are some links: (Carol Stream, IL) - written up in a local newspaper (NZ - with links to 2 public blogs) It is obvious that the students are not posting to these blogs, and most of them are private, requiring an invitation to view. The two public blogs:
-  (NZ = public student example in Blogger - lots of embedded images+video) - The teacher added Labels (Tags) that can be selected under Quick find
-  Quote from profile:
This is my E-profile all about me!
Mum and Dad have decided to leave it an open blog as an exemplar of how e-profiles can be used to document and assess my learning and life as a partnership between my extended family, my teachers at kindergarten, my dance teachers, and when I get there my school teachers too.
Please enjoy and respect my E profile.
I have emailed the school to communicate with the teacher who put together these portfolios. I would love to have a conversation with more Kindergarten teachers who are implementing this process with their students.