Sunday, July 25, 2004

Home from Camp Apple

It was an inspiring four days. I learned so much about blogs, and using Userland's Manila. It was also an opportunity to spend four days with a group of people with the same values, at least when it comes to learning and technology. It is apparent to me that the tools are very close to being ready. I downloaded and installed the update to iBlog, but haven't tried to use it yet.

When I had an opportunity to share my professional achievements, I said, "showing learners how to use technology to tell the story of their learning, whether through e-portfolios, digital stories, or blogs." My highlighted personal achievement was working with my grandchildren to help them develop their e-portfolios.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Camp Apple Project

Today, we chose the teams we would work with on a group project. There were many that interested me, including electronic portfolios and several different digital storytelling projects. But I decided to join the small team working on Blogging! I am learning so much about using Userland's Manila for maintaining a group blog. It had many elements of a wiki (it was set up so that we could edit each other's posts). I also spent some time finding links on blogging in education. I can see many possibilities for using a tool like this for a learning portfolio.

I had downloaded iBlog last week, so I installed it today. Then I read about another tool that is an update to iBlog, not free ($20). It's called Blogwave Studio for .Mac. Both tools are integrated with some of the iLife tools, which is a good start. More experimenting ahead! I'm not sure I want to change tools so early in the process. I am pleased that we have a blog set up on the ADE Community. Maybe we can interest more ADEs in sharing their thoughts and activities using this tool. The time is late!

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Apple Camp

I'm in the first full day of Apple Camp with Apple Distinguished Educators, after a day of travel. Up early this morning to provide a 90 minute iChat teleconference with the Florida Deans and Directors....all before breakfast! Being with fellow Mac users who are devoted to lifelong learning is always a high! I'm hoping to make connections with others here who share my interests on creating new tools to support our content management needs for e-portfolios. The vision I saw this morning was very encouraging (but I probably shouldn't say any more in a public environment being under non-disclosure). The conversation with Linda Roberts is exciting.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Day 3 Assessment Workshop

After spending more time on Sunday working on my latest paper, and adding more ideas on Assessment FOR Learning, I have shared my new chart with others. I am trying to compare portfolios used as assessment OF learning with portfolios that support assessment FOR learning. Today I am sharing examples of e-portfolios and digital stories with participants in the workshop. The feedback I am getting is very positive. Teachers see the advantages of digital storytelling and portfolios used as assessment FOR learning. I'm not sure this distinction is used in higher education.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Day 2 Assessment Workshop

After the second day, the fog is beginning to clear. I won a copy of Anne's book on classroom-based assessment, which I plan to read this weekend. I also received an e-mail from a colleague about a new article posted to the ERADC website about blogging in e-portfolios. Since the authors quoted my article on "Electronic Portfolios as Digital Stories of Deep Learning" I decided that I had better finish it. So, I took a few minutes and polished it a bit. It still needs some more work, but from the readings at this meeting, I now had the link to Rick Stiggens article that explains the assessment crisis and the difference between assessment OF learning and assessment FOR learning. I can now work on adding that piece to my presentation to the Florida deans and directors next week.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Assessment FOR Learning Workshop

I am participating in a very interesting workshop on Assessment FOR Learning led by Dr. Ann Davies from British Columbia. The process is very engaging and the ideas that are being discussed are enlightening. I was so pleased when the first resource person, Dr. John Gardner from Ireland, presented the Assessment for Learning model from the UK, the one I found online as I was preparing for the Assessment and Technology Forum in June. It is almost as if there is serendipity in the air. We even received their CD-ROM and a printed copy of the "sunrise" chart on Assessment for Learning.

I had an opportunity to make a short presentation on international perspectives on electronic portfolios. But mostly I talked about my concerns about the direction that e-portfolios are taking related to high stakes accountability and I presented my "balanced" model. It was delightful to get to know Doug again, after years ago and his work on the Scholastic Electronic Portfolio. I am so pleased that he has the same concerns that I have. I am looking forward to the next four days.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

New links on e-portfolios

Now that I am back from my European vacation (and back to wifi web access!), I can get caught up on some online reading. Thanks to David Tosh's and Jeremy Hiebert's blogs, here are a couple of recent web-based articles:
An article in the Washington Post on July 6 on portfolios
A summary of a debate held in the UK in late June on e-portfolios for recording achievement
Gary Greenberg's recent article in July-August Educause Review

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Second-order tool use

As I sit at the BlogTalk 2.0 conference, it occurred to me that there are first level and second level uses of software tools. The first level/order use of a tool is the most obvious and fulfills the purpose for which it was initially created; i.e., word processing for writing papers, letters; data bases for maintaining lists; spreadsheets for crunching numbers; blogs for posting online journals.

But I have seen the evolution of these tools to accomplish tasks not in the original design. In the context of electronic portfolios, the tools are used within the context of building a story of learning. Hypertext linking within the Office toolset allows a variety of applications for creating links to artifacts and creating the portfolio structure. I see the same potential for blog-type activities in e-portfolio development. As a reflective journal, I think blogging can be very useful. If we can figure out how to create an inventory list of the attachments (artifacts) in the blog, and can figure out how to use those artifacts in another context, then it would be a powerful tool. But since I am not a programmer, I don't know how to make it work.

Monday, July 05, 2004

BlogTalk 2.0 Conference

I'm attending the BlogTalk 2.0 in Vienna. It was just a coincidence that I happened to be in Vienna at the time of this conference. I'm not sure I am very popular with my husband right now, taking time off from our vacation, to attend a computer conference, leaving him alone with my mother to tour Vienna. But I really want to see what is happening in the world of blogging, at least in Europe.

My first impression of this conference:
- the participants are very young and predominantly male
- there are an unusual number of Macintosh laptops in the room and on the podium (Yeah!) - on the table next to me and in front of me, there are at least 8 G4 laptops of various sizes

An interesting statement: textual blogs are popular among adolescents and a major part of young bloggers seems to be girls.

I keep thinking about how this phenomenon can be adapted to electronic portfolios. When the two presenters from Sweden showed some examples from their moblogging at a conference last winter, including an audio entry that sounded like it was added by a cell phone, many bells started to go off in my head. Now, I need to learn more about moblogs. Another new term I learned" "vogs" (personal publishing of video or audio).

I also saw some new tools used to present on the Macintosh: Opera (which I downloaded over the slow wi-fi connection) and Mozilla's Firebird.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Paradigms underlying e-portfolios

Even though I am on vacation in Europe, I still keep current on my e-mail. I received an e-mail recently from a graduate student who read my article "Competing Paradigms in Portfolio Approaches" with great interest. She plans to do a literature review, as part of her dissertation, on the different types of portfolio approaches/practices in teacher education programs and their underlying paradigms. She asked for further guidance in the area of paradigms in relation to electronic portfolios. Here is my response:

To my knowledge, very few teacher ed programs are addressing these philosophical perspective when they are making decisions about implementing e-portfolios. They assume that the tools are neutral, but I believe they aren't. If students must organize their artifacts around a set of standards, rather than their own choice of organization, then the portfolio follows a positivist paradigm. If the learner can truly tell a story of their own learning, and organize the portfolio around the themes of their own learning journey, then the portfolio follows a constructivist paradigm.

At the end of that article I ask questions about learner motivation to maintain the portfolio once it is no longer a requirement. I think issues of intrinsic motivation have not been addressed by the field.

I also recommended that she not restrict her literature review to just electronic portfolios but to look at the entire literature on paper-based portfolios. The electronic elements are only containers and construction tools. The purpose, process and context should be similar between electronic and paper-based portfolios. Look beyond the tools and publishing format, to the underlying issues.

I recommended a couple of Dr. Joanne Carney's articles: and click on her AERA paper, which is the beginning of a literature review and framework for research in electronic portfolios.

This graduate student responded, agreeing that tools are not neutral - they come with their affordances, which can make portfolio assessment challenging. What do you assess - the portfolio as a whole or its contents?? Can you take the contents out of the container?? Doesn't the container color the perception and therefore the evaluation of its contents? She also wondered whether creating a portfolio to address standards makes the portfolio approach positivistic. If the student is allowed the freedom to interpret the standards with the help of their portfolio, wouldn't it be a reflective, constructivist activity??

I believe the two approaches (positivist and constructivist) have more to do with how portfolios are viewed in relationship to assessment. Are portfolios assessment OF learning or assessment FOR learning? Summative or Formative assessment? There is a great deal of difference. One has a perspective of what a student has learned to date (past-to-present); the other has a perspective on what more the student needs to learn (present-to-future). One is more of an institutional focus on accountability; the other is of an individual focus on understanding. One is often treated almost as a "bean-counting" exercise (have all of the standards been covered?) whereas the other is approached as an exploration of new insights.

The concept of Assessment for Learning is discussed in detail by the QCA in the United Kingdom: and click on ages 3-14 and you will see Assessment for Learning. The QCA definition: Assessment for Learning is the process of seeking and interpreting evidence for use by learners and their teachers to decide where the learners are in their learning, where they need to go and how best to get there.

Don't get me wrong, in an age of accountability, both perspectives are important. I am simply calling for a balance. My fear is that our emphasis on the organization's needs has overshadowed the learners' needs. I am trying to emphasize strategies that, while difficult to quantify, lead to much deeper learning.

I am currently reading a fairly new book called The Art of Changing the Brain by James Zull (Stylus, 2002), that relates the biology of the brain to strategies that support deep learning. He relates Kolb's Experiential Learning model to the structure of the brain, and emphasizes the role of emotion and reflection in deep learning. That is why I am so excited about the role of blogging to support reflection in electronic portfolios and digital storytelling to help tell the story of learning in an emotionally engaging way.