Saturday, August 19, 2006

Purpose of Digital Stories in ePortfolios

I just published another online document, looking at Purposes of Digital Stories in ePortfolios. Where I have examples of digital stories, I have provided web links. If you have examples that you would like to share, send me a link and an e-mail, giving permission to post the link on that page.

Perhaps ePortfolios can become the Trojan Horse for integrating digital storytelling into the curriculum. Most ePortfolios today are digital paper: text and images only. Digital Stories can humanize any model of ePortfolio using any type of ePortfolio tool. Digital Stories add VOICE to electronic portfolios. Digital Storytelling is also a motivating strategy for involving students in their own learning using 21st Century tools of engagement.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

E-Learning 2.0

There has been a lot of buzz coming my way about Web 2.0 and its impact on education. Stephen Downes discussed e-Learning 2.0, a term that does not refer to the numerous course management systems that are more about teaching than learning. What is the comparable tool to support lifelong self-directed learning, like eBay for online auctions, or Amazon for books (and a lot more now), or iTunes for music (and now video), or MySpace for social networking? It's more than using blogs, wikis, RSS feeds, podcasting, digital storytelling, ePortfolios to support learning. It's really the synergy between all of these applications. It's also access to a variety of learning resources through intelligent search engines. In the 1980s, I remember the adult learning literature talked about people who would function as "learning brokers" while today we could look to the Internet to fill that role. Is it possible to create such an online environment to go beyond the minimal goal-setting function of 43Things.

Here are a few websites that I found googling around the web:
Knowledge on Demand, an EU-funded project from Greece around 2002 (pre-Web 2.0)
Teachers Pay Teachers and the article that says it aims to be the eBay for educators
Web 2.0 has hit Business Week.
Edu 2.0 just recently launched.

All of these sites contain a piece of the puzzle, but nothing rises to the level of those other websites that I mentioned above. So what should be part of an online environment to support lifelong self-directed learning. What is the "killer app" for lifelong learning?

Wikis in Education

I am starting to explore more of the uses of Wikis in education. This web page came from the WWWTools for Education listserv, which originates from Australia. This website provides a wealth of great resources. Here is another article that just came out by David Jakes, Wild about Wikis.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Comments from eMail

I received the following comments recently from Mechelle M. De Craene, a Special Ed./Gifted Ed. Teacher in Florida, and graduate student. She recently published this article on Digital Storytelling: A Practical Classroom Management Strategy for working with middle school students.
I think portfolios are so important for educators, especially for special education teachers because so much information can be gleaned from portfolios that just doesn't show up on standardized testing.

In special education, so many life changing (e.g. regular or special diploma track) decisions are made by age 14, which are usually based upon state test, grades and IQ scores that don't truly capture the essence or potential including the uniqueness of every learner. I've used portfolios in the past to advocate for students with special needs to be mainstreamed into general education course so that my students may graduate with a regular diploma.

Additionally, equally important is the student participation in the portfolio process. It's a great way for students to self-reflect and see their growth. Plus, parents love portfolios of their children's progress.
And from another e-mail after she read my Web 2.0 article:
read your article and it is excellent!!!!! I especially like the comparison sections...especially Assessment of Learning vs. Assessment for Learning. It shows the evolution of the web and it is clearly defined. It is a great resource...especially the tool choices. Thank you for sharing that with me. : )

The great thing about Web. 2.0 is it fits more in line with our natural interactive nature. As machines become more and more intelligent they will compliment man's natural hierarchical (cognitive) and social needs systems. Have you read the book On Intelligence? It is an amazing book.

Hence, eportolios are great because they are not stagnant. They are dynamic. Also, wouldn't it be cool if students could take their eportfolios with them from teacher from year to year (ie..grade to grade)? That way teachers could look for various learning patterns in work presented though out a child's school years and build upon it. It would also be wonderful if we could access eportfolios via the web for each student, this would be especially useful for migrant children who move from town to town. Wow! There are so many wonderful things that are evolving. The pedagogy is truly in exciting times
Well said, Mechelle!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Web 2.0 Tools for ePortfolios

Picking up again, after my blog entry while in Salzburg, I started working on a new web page (and potential workshop) that would focus on using Web 2.0 tools for ePortfolios. This web page started initially as a handout for a workshop at the KIPP conference in New Orleans earlier this week, that I co-facilitated with one of my REFLECT teacher leaders. In this workshop, we provided an audience of primarily middle school teachers with an overview of authentic assessment and hands-on experience with two different approaches to doing electronic portfolios, first with Word/Excel and then with TaskStream. The experience gave them two ends of the e-portfolio spectrum: the most basic tools, and the highest end tool. We then provided them with resources to continue exploring these options, including information from and a 30-day trial account with TaskStream. We got very good feedback on the form that we built into TaskStream (modeling its instant data collection and aggregation features). I was pleased with this workshop, even though I thought it should have been a full day with the hands-on activities. Working on the agenda, I learned from my co-facilitator about WikiSpaces and, which I have already written about in this blog!

While researching this entry, I came across some more interesting articles about the impact of social networking sites (like MySpace) on college admissions and employment. I have written about this issue in a prior blog entry. I recently heard about 6th grade girls who were suspended for posting negative comments about their teacher on MySpace. As mentioned in the Business Week article, "there is no such thing as an eraser on the Internet." Perhaps instead of ignoring (or blocking) these websites, schools have a role in educating students about the long-term consequences of their actions (or postings). At the very least, parents should be educated about both the positive and negative implications of some of these new online services, that are attracting adolescents by the millions. (I just found Wired Magazine's MySpace Cheat Sheet for Parents.) In the last month, I heard that MySpace is now the #1 website on the Internet in terms of visitors. How can we replicate the intrinsic motivation of these social networking sites in the service of learning, while protecting students from the negative impacts?