Sunday, August 29, 2004

Technology Acceptance Model

I just found a paper online (PDF) that I think can inform the adoption of portfolios. The authors discuss the Technology Acceptance Model, that relates perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use with a person's attitude toward using, behavioral intention to use, and actual use of a system. There are other factors, as well, including self-efficacy and cognitive absorption, as discussed in this excerpt:
Agarwal and Karahanna (2000) further developed the concept of self-efficacy to analyze the relationship between self-efficacy and perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use. Adding the cognitive absorption construct, they further modified the TAM model from Agarwal’s original study (1998). The three aspects of cognitive absorption research are the personality trait dimension of absorption, the state of flow, and the notion of cognitive engagement. The study was done using the World Wide Web and university students. PLS was used to establish the nomological validity of cognitive absorption. The hypotheses that cognitive absorption is a significant predictor of perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use were supported by the results. They also found that playfulness and personal innovativeness have strong significant effects on cognitive absorption. (p.4)
I thought the point of playfulness, absorption, state of flow and cognitive engagement were key constructs that could also apply to the development of e-Portfolios.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Professional Development Guide

I am starting to build a guide for professional development to implement electronic portfolios in a college, school or district. I am almost embarrased that I did not address this issue before now, with my background in Staff Development and my graduate studies in Human Development.

I am addressing several components of professional development: Adoption of Innovations (C-BAM and Rogers' Diffusion of Innovations); Competencies (Portfolio and Technology Skills); Resources for Professional Development.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Portfolio Competencies

What are the competencies necessary for effective development of portfolios (either paper or electronic) that support lifelong learning? Competencies are described as knowledge, skills and abilities, attitutdes or dispositions. Can we build a competency model that describes these competencies, so that we can build professional development to help learners effectively use portfolios to support lifelong learning?

I have posted a wiki page to add to my preliminary list. A wiki is different from a blog, since anyone who opens a wiki page can edit it. I am going to announce the page on the eportfolios listserv and invite people to contribute their ideas.

Olympics Reflections

I'm sitting here watching the Women's Marathon and remembering other recent Olympic events I'm struck with the similarities with the issues of e-portfolios and accountability. As I talked with a colleague about the issues at her school, I realized that we were talking about the e-portfolio development process as both a balance beam and a marathon. The balance beam represents the narrow path we traverse, between the needs of the institution for an accountability system to document students' assessment OF learning, and the needs of the learner for a way to tell the story of their own learning, and to use feedback on their work for their own development. It is also a marathon, where the learners need to pace themselves, conserving themselves for the long run, so that they don't burn out before they meet their goals. This metaphor was very vivid today, with the British woman, who kept up with the leaders for the first 20 miles, but then broke down and did not finish, whereas the American woman ran her own race, turning on the speed at the end of the race, coming from behind to win the Bronze medal. It looks like I have another metaphor to add to my website.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Assessment Symposium

If school districts are looking for good professional development to design programs of assessment for learning, I highly recommend the symposium sponsored by Dr. Anne Davies of Connect2Learning in Courtenay, British Columbia. I was invited to be a resource person at this symposium last July (and discussed it previously in this blog). I just found out that next summer the dates will be Friday, July 22 - Wednesday, July 27, at the Kingfisher Resort, a little piece of heaven on Vancouver Island. From last summer, I thought those who attended as part of a team got more out of the symposium than those who came by themselves, although it was a great experience for everyone.

I spent a lot of time reading and reflecting after my week on what Doug Snow called "Assessment Island" and I realize how much I gained from that experience. I had discovered the work of the Assessment Reform Group in the U.K. in my own web search in preparation for ISTE's last Assessment and Technology Forum in June, where I started emphasizing the assessment "OF and FOR" learning distinction. I realize now that I only understood the concept on a surface level. The days that I spent at the Symposium helped me to start internalizing that concept.

Research questions

Today I received another e-mail message from another graduate student looking for some research questions related to electronic portfolios:
A couple of years ago I heard your presentation at the University of Illinois in Champaign and the value of electronic portfolios still intrigues me. I am now a doctoral student wrestling with the best way to define my topic,conduct the literature review and identify the need for the study.

My thoughts still need direction and focus, but I am hoping your expertise will provide guidance. My Question: In what ways can electronic portfolios provide credible evidence of student achievement for accountability?

This question comes from my concern regarding the over reliance on testing to assess student performance and progress. I am also concerned that students are getting the wrong message, that tests are more valued than their ability to perform/demonstrate their competencies. I am also concerned that the business community will be disappointed when students show high achievement on tests but are still not the workers they desire.

Any guidance you are able to offer is greatly appreciated.
My response:
I agree with some of your statements (about high stakes testing) but I am concerned about using portfolios for high stakes accountability. I am going to give you some reading assignments:
  • This blog (be sure to go back and read from the beginning last May, and read all the direct links to my articles, websites, etc.)
  • All of the articles linked from my page on assessment FOR learning:
  • You will also find a list of research questions on my website,
  • Also read the book on student assessment from the National Academy of Sciences: Knowing What Students Know. You can find it on the web
I believe that using portfolios to meet the demands of the high stakes accountability movement will kill the strategy for learners. The whole issue of purpose for assessment is discussed in some of the entries above, as well as motivation for maintaining the portfolios as a lifelong learning tool.

I think the point is that we need multiple measures, with as much recognition given to classroom-based assessment (i.e., portfolios and other measures) as given to those "snapshot" standardized tests. But teachers need a lot more professional development in appropriate uses of these classroom-based assessment measures. Portfolios are wonderful tools for documenting growth over time for the learner and local stakeholders. One of my articles discusses the difference between an online assessment management system and an electronic portfolio. Another identifies the differences between portfolios used as assessment OF learning and those that support assessment FOR learning.

Thursday, August 19, 2004


I know it's been out there for a year, but I just found Alan Levine's tutorial on blogging, called BlogShop 2.0. Very impressive, Alan. Why didn't I find it when I was starting my journey into blogging last spring? He has a posting about "Blog-folios" and a link to an e-portfolio created with Movable Type.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Reconciling divergent needs

I received an e-mail today from Steve Lang, whose background is educational assessment and psychometrics, discussing the challenge of balancing summative and formative evaluation, as well as the implementation process.

My response to him included a discussion of the ideas represented in this image and other issues, too lengthy to include in this blog entry.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Australia and New Zealand

I just received the invitation to participate in e-portfolio conferences in Melbourne (December 6-7) and in New Zealand (dates to be determined, but before December 15). I am really excited! I have not been to Australia (or below the Equator, for that matter). The folks at Eifel who are sponsoring the ePortfolio 2004 conference in France are putting together the tour.

Sunday, August 15, 2004


Interesting that the GLEF Faculty Associates group is using Blogger as a forum for getting acquainted. I added my vision to the discussion. Interesting that they are using the same blog engine that I am using, although they are using the blogspot hosting site. It will be interesting to see how other members of the group respond to the blog process. I also learned something new with the GLEF blog...I didn't realize that there could be multiple people posting to a single blog using Blogger, like we did with Manila at Camp Apple.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Multimedia Blogs and e-portfolios

Reading our ADE blog site, I see that there is some discussion in the blogsphere about adding multimedia content into blogs and the potential for digital portfolios. Fellow ADE blogger Dan Mitchell wrote, "What it takes is someone to create the tools that permit bloggers to create, edit, and link other media types with the same facility that current blogging tools provide for text-based blogging. All the better if it can be done entirely within the browser.
And what better company to take the lead than the company that already has all the best tools for creating these media? Yes, you know who I'm talking about.

My response:
I think what we need for this to happen is an environment to maintain a collection of documents (a digital archive), in any web-accessible format, and to be able to access that archive and construct any type of multimedia presentation linking to any number of those documents. Right now, I can upload documents into my blog, but there is no easy way to meta-tag those documents as they are stored, nor is there a way that they could be retrieved easily.

I think we need an authoring environment with an interface like most of the iLife suite, that allows quick access to any type of multimedia artifact. The problem with the iLife software is that these are silos that are beginning to talk to each other (like being able to see the iPhoto and iTunes libraries in iMovie). But I can't combine media types in a single archive and I do not always want to create a digital video file. Sometimes I want to produce a presentation, sometimes a web page, sometimes a mind map. And my .Mac account isn't the answer.

Book proposal revised

A good productive day or more with my co-author on our book proposal. We have a pretty good outline. Now we need to find the right publisher. Just a short summary of our book:
This book is a guide for all those who seek to make wise decisions about electronic portfolios. We seek to help teachers, administrators, policymakers, software designers— recognize their assumptions about the nature of portfolios, consider the implications of their portfolio decisions, and confront the dilemmas associated with their choices about portfolio purpose, audience, technology, and the use of the device for high-stakes assessment. This book will look at how these new technologies and accountability mandates have impacted the portfolio development process.

Electronic portfolios are now riding a wave of popularity, bringing both exciting and disturbing changes to the process. These emerging technologies show signs of changing the very nature of the portfolio concept. The commercial marketplace has produced technological products that are being sold to administrators based on institutions’ short-term accountability mandates, often without regard to the potential to support the lifelong learning needs of students. Will learners experience the power of the portfolio process as a learning tool, or will the institutional adoption of electronic portfolios to meet high stakes accountability mandates supplant the needs of learners? Will we lose the power of the portfolio as a story of learning to the use of the portfolio as a way to check off a long list of standards? Or will the power of the technology help learners tell the story of their learning in ways not possible on paper?

Friday, August 06, 2004

Planning documents

Last spring, I provided feedback to Kathryn Chang Barker on a document to provide a Consumer Guide to ePortfolio Tools and Services. This document is aimed more at organizations who are seeking server-based systems and/or services, not at individuals who want to build electronic portfolios using common desktop software. But it is a good companion to my April 2000 article in Learning & Leading with Technology called, "Create Your Own Electronic Portfolio: Using Off-the-Shelf Software to Showcase Your Own or Student Work." I also developed a Word document to help individuals answer specific questions at various stages in the electronic portfolio development process.

iPods for ePortfolio storage

After Camp Apple, and the Duke University announcement about iPods for every freshman this fall, I realized that an iPod could be used to maintain a digital archive of student work and their electronic portfolio with lots of multimedia artifacts. Storage problems solved!

Of course, this should not be the only place a student's work is stored, but it is a very portable medium for organizing work, and will enable more efficient storage of large multimedia projects, especially during construction, when video is not compressed. Access to data on a firewire or USB 2.0 hard drive is much faster than on a network, CD-ROM or DVD.

I bought the Griffin iTalk microphone to go with my new iPod. The quality of the audio recording is marginal, better with my Radio Shack computer microphone that I can plug into the iTalk. At 8 Mhz, probably not the quality needed for digital storytelling. But with this add-on, learners could record self-reflections on their work; teachers could provide audio feedback to their students. I just bought the device last week, and haven't had a lot of time to play with it. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

iChat with Class

I did an online iChat with a class in Fresno last night. Most of the questions asked were very insightful (with a summary of my response):
  • What is the advantage of all the work required to do a portfolio electronically? (there isn't if you are only doing text-based portfolios... for me the real advantage is two-fold: adding multimedia elements, especially video; and communication, better able to share the portfolios with a wider, but intentional, private audience)
  • What do parents think about electronic portfolios? (I've never really asked them...even though I have done several presentations on family involvement in e-portfolio development. I only have experience from my own family, but I imagine the parents at Mt. Edgecumb, a boarding school in Alaska, appreciate seeing their children's work; but the motivation behind the question had to do with confidentiality of information, which is another reason that I am not a fan of web-based portfolios for children)
  • Can I do this with very little technology access, like a single mobile computer cart in a high school? (frankly, no... unless you can leverage the technology that is in homes, which was not likely in low-income communities)
We also used Tapped In to send web pages (type "/project URL" in chat window) to each participant logged in to the chat room. It worked on previous ocassions, but last night, I found it to be too distracting (based on the chatter in the chat session), and I think in the future, I will create a single web page with all of the links I want them to visit in a short time frame.

Learner Engagement

I try to keep my personal life out of my blog, but I will make an exception this week, since I am working with my grandchildren on their e-portfolios covering the last school year (3rd grade and Kindergarten, respectively). My older granddaughter (age 9) wanted to learn how to scan, so we are having a great time together, digitizing her work, using digital camera and scanner. This week they are both coming over to my place, when we will figure out how we are going to organize their portfolios, but the older one will be much more engaged than in years past. She remembers some of the things we did last year, including typing reflections into iPhoto on each artifact instead of writing them out on sticky notes, and doing "cool" titles in iMovie. So, more good times together to come! We are going to try new tools for organization, like Kidspiration. More new things to learn! It also tells me that the power is in the process and the relationships that are enhanced! They could not do this alone, and I would not put in this much work for just anybody's child!

I appreciate the new resource I found online in the ERADC forum on Engagement Theory. I also need to find my book on Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihaly, since I think that has a lot to do with learner engagement as well.

Just found two new articles on portfolio assessment in teacher education, published by Education Policy Analysis Archives at ASU:

Monday, August 02, 2004

Home for a while

I've been traveling more than I've been home this summer. I have no trips on my calendar for August, but that may change soon. I'm going to work with Joanne on our book project, I'll probably go to Eugene to work on the extension of my PT3 grant, and I may go to LA. But otherwise, it will be a slow month! Even though I was on vacation for three weeks in Europe, it was a "bus driver's" holiday... we never stayed more than three days in one place at any time. Then, practically as soon as I came home, I was on Vancouver Island for the Connect2Learning Assessment Conference, then to Cupertino for the Apple Distinguished Educator "Camp Apple."

I was home for less than two days, and then off to Columbus, Ohio, for the Council of Independent Colleges Teaching and Learning Mentors Institute, where I led a conference strand on electronic portfolios for the first afternoon (an overview of electronic portfolios in higher education), a full day hands-on in a lab (ePortfolios with Office, Digital Storytelling with MovieMaker2), and the last morning (Balancing ePortfolio as test with ePortfolio as story). It was gratifying to hear people tell me how much better they understood what ePortfolios were (and were not). It was an exhausting three days, including the trip home on Friday afternoon so that I could be back to enjoy the weekend at our cabin in the woods.

I am hoping that Joanne and I can get re-energized on our book writing. AERA preparation took a lot of our time this spring. I did not submit a proposal to this year's AERA on purpose. It will be in Montreal, and I probably won't have travel money under my grant. I am also being very cautious about which conferences I send proposals. I am considering an education conference in Hawaii in early January, right after New Years, because it would be a good excuse to go to Hawaii. Haven't been there in years.

I received a call from the person helping to organize the ePortfolio conference in France. My keynote is on the second morning, not the first (I guess that is OK) and I get to name my topic. I suggested "ePortfolios: Your Digital Story of Learning." Then I can incorporate a lot of my focus on digital storytelling. But it looks like they don't have anyone interested in doing a breakout session on digital imagination! I also suggested that they organize a showcase session where individuals could show examples of their e-portfolios, much like we do in the ISTE Assessment & Technology Forum Gallery Walk.