Sunday, December 26, 2010

Another question about "best" portfolio tools in higher ed

This message was sent to the Researching Lifelong ePortfolios and Web 2.0 listserv that I facilitate: "In your opinion what is the best ePortfolio software or website for university students & staff?" Here is my response:

You asked this question in a list that focuses on Web 2.0 tools for ePortfolios. That implies an environment and an approach, not a specific tool. Before identifying specific tools, you need to identify the PURPOSE for developing a portfolio. There are purposes imposed by an institution (and frankly, that is the way most individuals begin a formal "portfolio") but we are implementing portfolio-like processes throughout our lives, regardless of technology or tools:
  • collection (our natural tendency to save those objects that remind us of important events in our lives)
  • selection (well, we can't save everything, so we have to make choices, based on a variety of criteria, consciously or subconsciously) 
  • reflection (the sign of deep learning... But not always called reflection. Humans have been keeping journals for hundreds of years, to help record experiences, or "thinking in print" to make sense of them) 
  • direction (in this case, setting goals... what I call reflection in the future tense... an essential component of success) 
  • presentation (putting a public face on the portfolio for a selected audience for a particular purpose) 
  • feedback (that's where the learning gets reinforced or suggestions made for improvement) 
  • evaluation (either by self or others, depending on context)
When we look at the various processes, and the way that technology supports those processes (archiving, hyperlinking, storytelling, collaboration, publishing, aggregating), there are a lot of tools that can support these efforts. I hope universities want to help students develop lifelong skills, that will last after students graduate. Learning a specific commercial tool that requires a paid subscription, may not meet that goal. But if students are using "world ware" (software in use it the world) then they are developing skills that can be applied in the "real world" outside of formal education. We should also look at how students are naturally using technology in their lives: social networking, mobile communications, images, audio and video, etc. I believe we should build on the tools that students are already using... I am not suggesting that we use Facebook for ePortfolios, but that we should look at the intrinsic motivation factors that drive the use of social networking, and apply those factors to the ePortfolio environment: autonomy, mastery and purpose (thanks to Dan Pink's book, Drive). I talked about these issues in my TEDxASB talk that can be found on YouTube.

But the practicalities of universities seem to require a specific tool... I recommend selecting one tool for student-centered portfolios (that they can continue to maintain after they graduate) and another tool to collect evaluation data by faculty, and used to aggregate data for institutional purposes. In my opinion, the "best" student portfolio tools are Web 2.0 tools, such as:
  • blogs (WordPress, Movable Type) implemented by a lot of universities, such as Penn State and UMW
  • Google Apps (Docs, Sites, Picasa, Blogger) also implemented by a lot of K-12 schools and universities, such as Clemson
I have blogged about some interesting tools under development to help aggregate Web 2.0 content stored in the cloud to support ePortfolios (Paul Kim's PrPl/PCB model discussed in the BJET, November 2010). I am also concerned that any tool that is used be well integrated with mobile devices. There are mobile apps available for most Web 2.0 tools to support the various components of the portfolio development process.  My current research is focusing on the application of mobile devices (iOS and Android) to support ePortfolio development across the lifespan. See my latest Google site, under development:

Enough of my sermon.
Happy Holidays!!!

Sent from my iPad

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Authenticity, ePortfolio Dimensions and Teacher Dashboard

Thanks to a tweet by Jamin Lietze (from New Zealand), I found a blog post by Nick Rate, another NZ educator who thinks deeply about e-portfolios: Dimensions and Dashboards. I was impressed with this statement:
The basis for this discussion is really considering what an eportfolio should be and defining a tool that is as authentic as possible. The problem with most eportfolio systems is that the eportfolio is not the central working (learning) space, it is generally a space where learning is brought to and then shared and reflected upon. There is a lack of authenticity here and often a double handling of learning artefacts. So the question… is there a dimension of eportfolios that removes or minimises this issue?
His comments about authenticity really resonated with me because adolescent students often don't acknowledge the value or relevance of developing an e-portfolio (in contrast to their constant use of social networking). He also asks a question: "Are eportfolios a true representation of the learning or just a snapshot?" Then he identifies six "dimensions" or what I would call categories of e-portfolio tools:
  1. The Dedicated (A dedicated eportfolio system)
  2. The Managed (portfolio functionality or module built in or attached to a LMS)
  3. The Blogged (contained within an online blogging tool)
  4. The Mashed (distributed across online spaces and web technologies, using an aggregator such as NetVibes)
  5. The Saved (created using desktop software and not online)
  6. The Integrated (ePortfolios that are seamlessly integrated into the way students are learning)
Under the last example, he highlights the "Teacher Dashboard" (by Hapara, Ltd. of Auckland, NZ) which is described as "an add-on to Google Apps Education Edition that makes it easier for teachers to deal with their classroom Google Docs, Sites, Gmail and Blogger content." The description of their presentation at the ULearn '10 conference provides a tool for teachers to manage access to student work across Google Apps. The examples shown are from the Pt. England school in Auckland.

In my opinion, this tool looks like it provides a much-needed teacher-centered management approach in schools to balance the learner-centered PrPl/PCB approach theorized by Paul Kim of Stanford. I can't find the Teacher Dashboard tool in the Google Apps Marketplace yet, and I would love to get my hands on see how it really works! It would be a great addition to the upcoming workshop that I will be leading for a school district in North Dakota in January, as well as the technology conference workshops and presentations that I will be conducting in the next few months at NCCE (March 3, 2011 in Portland) and ISTE (June 29, 2011 in Philadelphia).

New Technology Priority

The following is an excerpt from the Federal Register today, December 15, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 240) [Page 78485-78511], with a new priority for funding from the Department of Education Supplemental Priorities for Discretionary Grant Programs
New Priority 6--Technology
We have established a new priority, Priority 6--Technology, that reads as follows: "Projects that are designed to improve student achievement or teacher effectiveness through the use of high-quality digital tools or materials, which may include preparing teachers to use the technology to improve instruction, as well as developing, implementing, or evaluating digital tools or materials.'' Federal Register Online via GPO Access [DOCID:fr15de10-138
This document also includes new priorities on Enabling More Data-Based Decision-Making and Promoting Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education, Increasing Postsecondary Success, Building Evidence of Effectiveness. Anyone want to collaborate on a proposal to provide evidence that the effective implementation of electronic portfolios (with digital storytelling) can address these priorities in K-12 schools?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

ISTE 2011 Sessions

My following proposals were accepted for the ISTE 2011 conference in Philadelphia:

Hands-on mPortfolio Development with iOS devices (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad) [Workshop : Hands-on] 
Scheduled: Saturday, 6/25/2011,  12:30pm–3:30pm 
Bring your mobile iOS device (iPhone, iPad, iPodTouch) to explore mPortfolio development. Create/upload artifacts (text, images, audio, video). Download free apps for blogging, GoogleApps, Mahara. 

Student-Centered Interactive ePortfolios with GoogleApps [Concurrent Session : Lecture]
Scheduled: Wednesday, 6/29/2011,  8:30am–9:30am 

Create a comprehensive student-centered system supporting all three levels of ePortfolio development: Create/collaborate/store/share artifacts in GoogleDocs; Reflection/Feedback using blogging; Presentation Websites with GoogleSites.  [this is my book adapted to the GoogleApps environment, similar to my 2010 presentation] 

Sunday, December 05, 2010

2010 Global Education Conference ePortfolio Recordings

Here are the sessions on ePortfolios at the 2010 Global Education Conference held in November 2010. These are all Elluminate recordings, so there are links to these presentations which are mostly 60 minutes. I cannot download the presentations.

TITLE:Assessing 21st Century Learning With Electronic Portfolios [using Weebly]
PRESENTER:Elizabeth Garrison, St. Anthony School (United States)
TIME:GMT Wed 17 Nov 2010 07:00PM (click for international time conversions)
RECORDING:CLICK HERE to watch the Elluminate session recording.

TITLE:Eportfolio Communities of Practice
PRESENTER:Carole McCulloch, Educatinal Consultancy Network (Australia)
TIME:GMT Tue 16 Nov 2010 12:00AM (click for international time conversions)
RECORDING:CLICK HERE to watch the Elluminate session recording.
FORMAT:Open Discussion

TITLE:Digital Storytelling
PRESENTER:Glenn Cake, Centre for Distance Learniing and Innovation (Canada)
TIME:GMT Thu 18 Nov 2010 03:00PM (click for international time conversions)
RECORDING:CLICK HERE to watch the Elluminate session recording.
LANGUAGE:English with French examples

TITLE:Creating Digtial Portfolios for Teachers
PRESENTER:Roger Fuller, Milken Community High School (USA)
CO-PRESENTER:Melodie Roden CO-PRESENTER: Nick Holton
TIME:GMT Tue 16 Nov 2010 01:00PM (click for international time conversions)
RECORDING:CLICK HERE to watch the Elluminate session recording.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

2010 K-12 Online Conference Highlights

I discovered the 2010 K12 Online Conference on iTunes U and then on their website. I have downloaded these videos on my iPad as well as my laptop! Following is a video by Chrissy Hellyer (NZ, teaching in Bangkok, Thailand): "Record, Reflect & Share – VoiceThread as a digital Portfolio" - Link to presentation’s supporting documents: Great Resource!

Here is another video from the 2010 K-12 Online Conference, on Primary Digital Portfolios using a blog, recorded by Kathy Cassidy (Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada). Link to presentation’s supporting documents:

A great resource on Project Based Learning in Hand using iOS Mobile Devices by Tony Vincent (Phoenix, Arizona, USA). Link to presentation’s supporting documents:
I downloaded some new apps on my iPad after watching this video, including another video editing app that will work on my iPad (ReelDirector - $3.99).