Thursday, December 27, 2007


Buzzword is an online word processor sponsored by Adobe. Although it has similarities to GoogleDocs and ZohoWriter, it has some significant differences. A real difference in this tool is the page layout formatting: every document has margins, can have a header and footer added, and visually shows page breaks. It does have the ability to add links, but I had to use the full URL for links to the other pages that I created. It does not have the ability to create "bookmarks" within documents, to be able to link to different parts of a single multi-page document (which I can do in GoogleDocs). If I wanted to print out a Buzzword document, it would be fully formatted. The tool has some other useful features: in addition to spell check, it shows the number of flagged words in the toolbar at the bottom of the screen. It also has an automatic word count at the bottom of the screen. There is also the ability to zoom in and out of the screen using a slider bar at the bottom.

I have discovered that when you share a document with another person, you have three choices:
* Co-author- full writing privileges
* Reviewer- can only add comments to the document
* Reader - can only read the document

To share a document, the program sends an email with a URL, which requires the individual to create a free account before viewing the document.

The purpose of this program is collaborative writing, not to create a portfolio. However, it does have the capabilities of full interactivity, either through co-authoring or being able to add comments. It really doesn't have a "public" view. It is currently a "work in progress" so I'm sure there will be a lot of progress over the next few months.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

One Laptop per Child

Today I ordered one of the OLPC XO laptops under the "Give One Get One" laptop giving program: I get one laptop to give to a child in my life, and another to a child in a developing country. This program was extended through December 31, 2007. Since my granddaughters already have their own used Mac laptops, this one might not be what they will use. However, I am intrigued by the possibilities, and I want to play with one, to see how they work and the potential to support my particular vision of web-based learning environments. When mine arrives in January, I will play and write up my impressions.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The ePortfolio Hijacked

This article, written by Trent Batson in Campus Technology on December 12, 2007, discusses the differences between ePortfolios and assessment/accreditation management systems. I've been discussing these issues in some of my web-based articles, conference presentations and blog entries since 2003. Hopefully the word will spread that LEARNING can be a powerful use of ePortfolios, not just accountability. Thanks, Trent.

Somehow, we need to get back on track with the metaphor of "ePortfolio as Story" and not only "ePortfolio as Test" or we will lose a powerful tool for reflection and lifelong learning. The challenge we have is accommodating the strong pressures for institutions to produce tangible evidence of achievement for external audiences (accreditation and government agencies), so that faculty and students can also focus on the internal audiences (small, private, personal) to realize growth over time. I am concerned about the "opportunity cost" (the value of the benefits forgone) in the current focus on accountability portfolios. How can we find a balance?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

ITESM Workshop in Mexico City

I just finished conducting an ePortfolio workshop in Mexico City. Initially, they thought they would use the Blackboard Content System (the older version); but instead, they want me to use one of the free online tools, so I introduced them to the Google tools. They contacted me because they liked my White Paper that I wrote almost three years ago.

During the workshop, we covered my basic workshop about e-portfolios and planning (in the first morning) then we started the hands-on component. In the first afternoon, the participants created a Google account, and set up a blog in Blogger. I showed them how to make comments on their neighbor's blog, illustrating the interactivity that would be useful in a blog/learning journal. Then, I introduced them to GoogleDocs Document tool, and we created a basic portfolio document, just like I used to do using Word, only this time, the files were all online. They also learned how to Share these documents with their neighbors, and add comments or co-author their portfolios. This morning, we continued with the hands-on component, when I introduced them to the GoogleDocs Presentation tool. Since we were on a wireless network that required a proxy server, we had some technical issues and the speed was very slow. I then introduced them to the Google Pages tool, which also proved to be a problem for a few of the participants. We talked about the pros and cons of the different Google tools and their use in ePortfolio development, and finally I gave them the presentation on digital storytelling that I did at the National Council for the Social Studies conference last Friday. At the end of the workshop, I think the participants really appreciated becoming acquainted with the many new free online tools that they and their students could use. In the afternoon, I led an hour-long conversation about e-portfolios with those attendees who could not get into my workshop (I told them that I limit hands-on workshops to 30 people).

This private university, which also includes private high schools, has more than 33 campus locations all over Mexico. The head of their Academic Affairs discussed (in Spanish) their new program for implementing faculty e-portfolios for assessing competencies in their areas of professional development, including cooperative learning, project-based learning, case studies, and negotiation. They did not intend to implement any specific software for faculty portfolios, but would let faculty choose their own tools. Thank goodness my new friend, Kathy (principal of one of the brand new high schools) was taking notes in English, and was able to show me what was being said. This conference also had keynote addresses about ethics in higher education (also in Spanish) and communities of practice (by Etienne Wenger in English).

I was most impressed by the organization of the meeting (I have a new fancy nametag to add to my collection): I had someone to guide me everywhere I went on their campus, I was wined and dined every evening, and I had a private chauffeur drive me to and from the airport. I don't think I have been treated so royally by any other university since my PT3 grant was over. They also were very warm and patient participants, speaking to me in English (I don't speak Spanish), and translating when needed. I did my presentation in English (the participants in my workshop were required to bring their own laptops and to speak English). Overall, I hope I have more opportunities to work with them. I am on a real high!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

BEST Portfolio

This video on YouTube was posted by the Connecticut Education Association (the teachers' union) about the Connecticut Beginning Educator Support and Training (BEST) Program and so it has a specific point of view. The comments after the video give a different perspective. Still, the video and the comments show the consequences of a portfolio used for high stakes accountability. No mentoring? No feedback? The basic principles of portfolio development in education are being violated. I wonder if these teachers will ever use portfolios with their own students after this experience? Another example of taking a powerful tool for learning, and ruining the potential through narrow implementation to meet accountability mandates. This is another example of what Lee Shulman calls perversion of the portfolio process.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Categorizing ePortfolio Systems

I just posted an updated version of My Online Portfolio Adventure, including Categories of ePortfolio tools and services. Links to the services can be found on that web page. I have not included the many services that are emerging in Europe, because I don't have enough experience with them to classify them. Input from other ePortfolio developers is welcome.
  • Individual & Institutional
    • Authoring Tools - These are tools that can be used to author portfolios (offline), but require web server space to publish online. Portfolios created with these tools can also be published on CD-R or DVD-R. No Interactivity. [Mozilla Composer; Dreamweaver, FrontPage or any web authoring tool; Apple's iWeb; Powerpoint & Lecshare Pro; Adobe Acrobat; MovieMaker2, iMovie, or any video editing tool]

    • Static Web Services - These are static web services that an individual or institution may use to create and publish a presentation portfolio - little or no interactivity* (Web 1.0) [GeoCities; eFolio Minnesota; Tripod; Digication; KEEP Toolkit; GooglePages]

    • Interactive Web Services - These are dynamic web services that an individual or institution may use to create and publish a presentation portfolio AND allows interactivity* (Web 2.0) [WordPress (blog); WikiSpaces; PB Wiki; GoogleDocs - Document and Presentation; ZOHO Writer; EduSpaces (Elgg)]
    • Institutional
      • Software - Server Required - These are systems that an institution would install on their own server to provide space for hosting portfolios. Interactivity* but NO data management system** [Userland's Manila; Blackboard (old: Content System and new: Vista/CE); Open Source tools: Elgg, Mahara, Moofolio, OSPI, MyStuff (U.K.); open source Content Management Systems: Plone, Drupal; Microsoft SharePoint]

      • Hosted Services - These are systems that an institution adopts (no server required) that host portfolios. Usually supports interactivity* but limited (or unknown) data management** or reporting systems. [MyEport (Maricopa); (K12 school accounts only); nuVentive's iWebfolio; ePortaro; Pupil Pages (K12); Epsilen; My eCoach]

      • Assessment Systems - Hosted Services - These are hosted systems that an institution would adopt (no server required) that will allow hosting portfolios, facilitates interactivity, and includes a data management** and reporting system for assessment [TaskStream; College LiveText; Chalk & Wire; FolioTek; nuVentive's TracDat]
    * Interactivity allows dialogue and feedback in the portfolio, either through comments or collaborative editing
    ** Data management system allows collection of evaluation data about portfolios,
    and can produce reports aggregating quantitative data

    As I look at this list, the level of individual personalization and creativity is roughly in the same order; the most creativity for the portfolio developer is in the first category, and the least is in the last, although there are exceptions (many of the Web 2.0 services allow a lot of creativity).

    Tuesday, November 06, 2007

    My Award

    I received a PDF copy of my 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award from Eifel. I deeply appreciate this honor, especially at this time in my life. Eifel is establishing a new website,, an early work in progress which they hope will trigger further reflection on ePortfolios and digital identity. As the only organization that is addressing the widespread uses of ePortfolios across the lifespan and all sectors of society, it will be important to support their development and dissemination efforts.

    Tuesday, October 30, 2007

    A few more ePortfolio Tools

    I've tried a few more tools for constructing ePortfolios:
    • PBWiki - A more developed wiki with the capability of exporting specific pages to PDF, Word or an online presentation. Read my detailed reflections on this 33rd reconstruction of my portfolio in my Online Portfolio Adventure. The screen is a little cluttered with all of the commands at the bottom, but the formatting is more flexible. With a limit of 10MB to store files, this version might be more limiting for schools or individuals who do not have other online storage space, whereas WikiSpaces allows 2GB.
    • Carbonmade - an online portfolio for the creative arts community, not really appropriate for education because of the limited number of projects (5 in the free version) and limited space for description/captions/reflection. I really couldn't reconstruct my portfolio with this tool.

    Thursday, October 25, 2007

    Hungarian Reality Check

    My daughter Erin's class provided me with another reality check today. She teaches conversational English in a high school in Budapest, Hungary. Today, I put together a short presentation, and introduced portfolios to one class of her students. For about 45 minutes, we talked about why we collect "stuff" and then I showed them parts of Victoria's Kindergarten, First Grade portfolios, her 2nd grade autobiography and then her 6th grade poem. Then we talked about the elements of language learning: reading, writing, listening, speaking and "use of language" (grammar). I asked them how they would collect samples of their "evidence" of speaking. We talked very briefly about recording audio.

    In the class period that followed, we had only half of the class and asked them to make a short recording that included the answers to three questions:
    • Who are you (your name)
    • What are you doing now?
    • What are your goals?
    The students worked in pairs, and either helped each other record or interviewed each other. We had three iPods with microphones, but we found that many of them had MP3 players with built-in microphones! So everyone was able to make a recording in a 45 minute period. Their instructions were to send their audio file to their teacher (my daughter), and to save it for later use.

    I then shared a little bit of the research about schools who are using iPods to record students' reading, with the ability to immediately listen to the recording. I understand that those elementary students are dramatically improving their reading scores. I also shared my visit to the Defense Language School in Monterey last summer, where all of the students are issued laptops and iPods with microphones, which are used extensively in language instruction.

    What impressed me today was the number of students who pulled out their MP3 players (not iPods) which had the built-in ability to record audio clips. We will be developing more printed support materials to help these students to store their recordings so that they can be included in their language portfolios. Erin and one of her colleagues introduced me to the European Language Portfolio which consists of three documents: the Language Passport, the Language Biography and the Dossier ("Select materials to document and illustrate achievement" (evidence in the portfolio). The way we did it today (using MP3 players) may be a lot easier than asking students to record audio clips into their computers. Our next task is to figure out where the students will save their audio clips online. Stay tuned!

    Monday, October 22, 2007

    Using Tags to Create an E-Portfolio

    (Now I am in Budapest, and Blogger screens are in Hungarian! Good thing I've used this website for over three years, and can remember where the commands are on the screen!)

    After hearing that the MyStuff e-portfolio, being created by the Open University in the U.K. was using tags instead of folders to organize the work in their system, I decided to try the quintessential tagging program, (now owned by Yahoo), to create a version of my portfolio. Since all of my artifacts are stored online in one of my server spaces, it became relatively easy to create a set of tags to describe the work in my portfolio. I also started to create a list of other resources, as well, including commercial e-portfolio tools and open source e-portfolio tools.

    Interestingly, each tag can have a 1,000 characters of explanation, which was more than enough for each section in my portfolio. Where I ran out of space was in the captions for each link, limited to 256 characters. Not enough for a full reflection, but enough for a brief caption for each artifact. It has occurred to me that a fuller reflection could be posted as a blog entry, with the link to that specific entry tagged in, would overcome these limitations.

    The next challenge is where to store artifacts online. I am starting to look at online storage services, although I'm not sure any of them let you create a hyperlink to the individual items stored in their space. That is a subject for future research.

    Friday, October 19, 2007

    Open Source ePortfolio Systems

    At the ePortfolio Conference in Maastricht, The Netherlands, one of the keynote speakers was from the Open University in the U.K. They have been developing an open source ePortfolio system for several years, and it should be fully deployed in February 2008. They call their system MyStuff and it is fully integrated with Moodle. This system does not use folders to store files, but uses tags instead, which offers a very different, more flexible and intriguing way to access artifacts in a portfolio.

    The list of open source ePortfolio systems to date includes:I heard from some New Zealanders at the conference that the Mahara team has received more funding to adapt the system to schools, and the adaptations should be completed by the end of this year. In a few weeks, I hope to do an evaluation of the capabilities of some of these tools. I have already developed a portfolio in Elgg. I will also see about getting access to MyStuff. I tried Klahowya a few years ago and couldn't make it work on my server space. I will be working with the University of Oregon's Center for Advanced Technology in Education to evaluate Mahara and Elgg for their Special Education ePortfolio project. I am working with SPDC and schools in New Hampshire to implement the Moofolio to demonstrate technology fluency. Since I just learned about MyStuff, I am anxious to try it out, as well.

    Thursday, October 18, 2007

    Upcoming E-Portfolio Events

    I'm at the Eife-l ePortfolio 2007 conference in Maastricht, Netherlands (and my Blogger page is in Dutch!). This evening was the banquet celebration for the conference. After the awards for the best papers, they gave a special "Lifetime Achievement Award" and guess who got it? Me! Besides a bouquet of flowers, I'm not sure what else I get, but it was a very nice honor. I was actually very touched.

    There are two ePortfolio events planned for the next spring: February 7-8, 2008, in Brisbane, Australia sponsored by QUT, and May 5-7, 2008, in Montreal, Canada, sponsored by Eife-l.

    Sunday, October 14, 2007

    21st Century Portfolios

    I just finished an ePortfolio planning workshop in New Hampshire, where the state is requiring that digital portfolios be used to demonstrate the 8th grade NCLB technology literacy requirement. I developed this diagram to illustrate the relationships between the new ISTE NETS standards, content standards, and effective assessment, teaching and learning. The new NETS standards support the Partnership for 21st Century Skills and schools in New Hampshire are going to demonstrate that an ePortfolio is the best way to demonstrate these skills:
    • creativity and innovation
    • communication and collaboration
    • research and information fluency
    • critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making
    • digital citizenship
    • technology operations and concepts

    Wednesday, October 03, 2007

    New online video

    Today I was a guest "speaker" in an online conference on Adult Learning for an organization in the U.K. for which I created a new online video (27 minutes) discussing the "What, Why and How" of ePortfolios in Adult Learning. In the follow-up discussion, one of the participants asked about how a user can control who sees their stuff (in light of some current issues around cyberbullying). My response:
    You raise a valid concern. When you publish a web site in Google Pages, I'm not sure if you can require a password. That is one of the questions that I will have to ask them. That is, of course, the appeal of some of the other customized e-portfolio systems... Using GoogleDocs, you don't have to publish your Document or Presentation for the whole world to see. You can just send it to another online user as a link. It just depends on your purpose, whether you want a portfolio that is open to the public, or whether you want to share it with specific people.
    That makes the GoogleDocs (both Document and Presentation) better tools for collaboration and interaction (not available in Google Pages) and the fact that you don't have to publish to the Internet, but can simply share with specific online users. You can also carry on a live text chat with the Presentation tool, and post comments in a Document. But they are both very linear! I was also asked about mind mapping tools that could be used to create a concept map of learning. I have seen one portfolio done with Inspiration, and I love that tool for conceptualizing my own personal learning and growth, but I do not use that concept map as part of my portfolio. Maybe I should look into those online concept mapping tools, since they might address a learning style issue of many learners.

    New tutorials using GoogleDocs and Pages

    While sitting around a hospital yesterday using their free wifi for guests (and also caring for a relative), I created two new "how to" documents, using the actual tool itself:I learned even more about the tools as I was creating these mini-tutorials, which both originated as PowerPoint presentations. Converting the first document to GoogleDocs was very fast and easy, only requiring a minor amount of tweaking. However, I also deleted my first version and uploaded the PowerPoint file again because I couldn't make the changes I wanted in the online version. The second one, created in Google Page Creator, required that I save each graphic as a separate file and then upload that file into the file repository in Google Pages. Once there, I could re-use some of the images. I could also very easily hyperlink to some of the pages in my portfolio as an example. After using both of these tools, I like the "quick and easy" nature of the GoogleDocs presentation tool, doing most of my authoring in PowerPoint. I also like the Share feature, and being able to "present" a portfolio in real time online, where there is a chat window for comments. Google Pages is for more of a formal presentation, without the interactivity capability. Both tools allow as much creativity as I wanted, without needing to use any HTML coding.

    Monday, October 01, 2007

    Updating Mash Up discussion

    I realized that I uploaded the Google Mash Up page too quickly. I fleshed out the details a little more this morning, but have a lot more to add. I will update this blog when I think the page, and its attachments, are more complete.

    Friday, September 28, 2007

    ePortfolio Mash-up with Google Apps

    Here is a conceptual model that I am exploring, using the variety of Google tools to facilitate an online learning portfolio. Here is a full size version of the image, plus a further discussion that I am building about this conceptual model.

    Lecture of a Lifetime

    I just watched Randy Pausch's Lecture of a Lifetime on ABC News. (It is really in four parts beginning here.) He has many wonderful messages about how to live and die. It is a wonderful lecture about how this Carnegie Mellon professor, dying from cancer, achieved his childhood dreams. He has done pioneering research on virtual reality and games to teach programming; his latest system is called Alice. He talks about "head fakes": "the best way to teach someone something is to have them think they are learning something else!" "Millions of kids having fun while learning something hard!" (even the HP creativity commercials that preceded the video were engaging). This was truly a legacy story. He said it was really for his kids. My favorite part: he even admitted to having a deathbed conversion... he bought a Macintosh! This is well worth watching!
    The video is also posted on YouTube in smaller segments, without commercials, starting here: Part 0(2) or watch the whole hour and 25 minutes on Google Video.

    Wednesday, September 19, 2007

    Google Presentation Tool

    This is the 31st tool that I have used to recreate my online portfolio. It was also the quickest! It took me about two minutes to convert a 6.3 MB PowerPoint file into my online portfolio using the brand new Google Presentation tool. I understand it was just released yesterday. I changed a couple of slides and published it, all in about 15 minutes! I am very impressed!!! (I tried the same thing a few months ago with Zoho, and it never worked)

    Anyone can use this software to create an online portfolio if they have a good Internet connection. Even the hyperlinks that I had on the slides were converted. The interactivity can be facilitated through the "Share" feature, just like GoogleDocs Document, although it lacks the Insert function available in that tool. I am wondering if they intend to add comments in later versions. I see that other people can be sent the URL for the presentation, and they can view the presentation in real time. Wow!

    I can see that I need to do a whole new set of instructions on using the Google Apps (Docs, Presentation, Pages) to create electronic portfolios. Here is a short YouTube video about GoogleDocs that discusses the process. I'm going to showcase this toolset next week in an online presentation that I am doing next week for the NIACE online conference in the U.K., focusing on electronic portfolios in adult learnng.

    Monday, September 03, 2007

    More Questions from High School Teachers

    I received the following email questions from high school teachers (Hmmm... school must be starting)
    We are planning to implement a pilot eportfolio program this fall in our high school (about 100 students out of a population of 1700). At the current time we are not using the Web 2.0 technologies that I read about on your blog because there is district fear of the "social networking" issues that might arise and Google docs, for example, is blocked on our network. We worked with a handful of 9th grade students using iWeb last year, but we only have one maclab, and frankly, since students do not have their own laptops, iWeb seemed complicated. So, what we do have is a site license for Contribute and are planning to use that. The thing we are struggling with now is managing the assessment piece and figuring out how to mentor the students. If we go all the way with this, we will have 1700 a lot of students to manage, and that piece seems daunting, but we are excited and I have a group of incredibly talented and dedicated colleagues to work with. Any examples of schools doing this, or any thoughts you might have would be deeply appreciated!
    My response: OK, I have a few questions for you.
    1. What kind of assessment are you talking about? Formative or summative? Formative assessment is sometimes called "Assessment FOR Learning" and is used to provide feedback for the students on their work so that they know how and where to improve. Summative assessment is sometimes called "Assessment OF Learning" and is used to "score" or assign a rating to student work (based on a rubric), and aggregate those scores, either for grading purposes or for external audiences. The tool requirements for each purpose are different.
    2. Where will the students' portfolios be posted and what kind of interactivity is built into the hosting system? In either type of assessment, you will need to be able to interact with the work, either to give students feedback (qualitative data), or to collect and record quantitative data (scores). The first function is really a commenting function (such as you will find in a blog or wiki). The latter is really a data management function that you will find in a database or spreadsheet or gradebook.
    3. What is your primary metaphor for your implementation of e-portfolio: checklist of skills or story of learning?
    4. Is your intention to create a student-centered portfolio or an institution-centered portfolio?
    5. Do your teachers currently implement paper-based portfolios? Or are you starting both innovations simultaneously (portfolio process and using technology for portfolios)?
    Today I received another request:
    I'm trying to implement a eportfolio system in my 9th grade English classes as well as my Latin classes. I have been searching and learning, but I could spend days and weeks here and I would like to begin before the end of the first semester! Therefore, would you be able to recommend a site for me that I could use for a single teacher with about 130 students? Most eportfolio systems I found during my research were for building-wide systems. It would be a safe guess to say that I will be the only teacher using eportfolios. But, if my preliminary work is successful, the district may catch on faster. I spent a little time with pbwiki and a blog, but I am concerned with security and the school's babysitter blocking the sites. So, would you have one (or more) sites for eportfolios that could be financially feasible for a single teacher with about 130 kids?
    My response: I never make a definite recommendation, since there are many options out there, and I don't know your district and what the blocking software will allow. I recommend that you talk to your district network gatekeepers ;-) to see what they will allow. If this is a pilot for your entire district, then they should be involved in helping you select the tools.

    You also didn't tell me what the purpose that your ePortfolio will serve. Purpose drives everything. Do you want to track the achievement of standards? Do you want your students to simply showcase their work? Do you want your students to develop collaborative writing projects? These are different tasks that require different tools. What kind of Internet access do you have? Did you read the article that I have online?

    Does your district have Unix server space where you could install one of the open source eportfolio tools, such as Elgg or Mahara? Those tools have the security elements that your district would want. Elgg was created in the U.K and includes a blog, social networking, file space, groups, and a new presentation system. Mahara was created in New Zealand for the education system there and provides a blog, social networking, multiple views for multiple audiences. A school district in New Hampshire is developing an ePortfolio tool that works within Moodle (an open source course/learning management system).

    As a temporary (but immediate) solution, here is a list of websites that you could see if your district will block:
    GoogleDocs: (basically Word on the WWW)
    Google Pages: (an online website builder)
    Your students can build artifacts in GoogleDocs, and create a customized portfolio in Google Pages. Your students can collaborate on docs together and you as a teacher can see what each student contributed to a collaborative document. Your students can share documents with you, and you can provide feedback right in the document. For these last two options, your students would each need a Google account, which is allowed at age 14. The Oregon Virtual School District is using a Google portal for its work.

    I also like wikis for ePortfolios, and you've already mentioned PBWiki, which I know can be password-protected.

    You might look at It is totally protected, has a teacher account that controls all of the student accounts. It requires an agreement with the principal of your school, but it is free. I think the interface is a little juvenile, but I found it to be fairly easy to construct a portfolio. But no one can see the portfolio unless they have a account.

    There are many options out there, You just need to see which one will work best in your situation for your purposes.
    Commentary: The most secure tools are the commercial tools, such as TaskStream, which involves a per-student fee; or some of the open source tools, which require a server. The real challenge with using the most creative Web 2.0 tools in schools is that they are blocked by many school networks. It makes the recommendations more challenging. The best Web 2.0 options are often blocked! Unless a district installs their own solution, or purchases a service, an individual teacher has difficulty trying to implement an ePortfolio system.

    Tuesday, August 28, 2007

    Google Pages

    This is the 30th tool that I have used to create my electronic portfolio. The process moved very smoothly. I was able to convert all URLs to weblinks. The tool allowed me to reconstruct my portfolio in less than an hour, copying the information from my Elgg portfolio, where I had the URLs on the page (and the links). I easily uploaded my graphics. All of my other artifacts are web links. The program's Site Manager shows all of the files that I have uploaded. There is a limit of 100 MB per account for all pages and files. There is also no data management tool, to aggregate assessment data. I'm not sure there is an interactivity feature to this program, such as found in a blog or wiki. Therefore, this tool would work for a presentation portfolio but not for formative or summative assessment.

    The real advantage of Google Pages is the many different tools, gadgets and widgets available, as well as the file management system. I was able to upload files as attachments. I created a Table of Contents on the left side of the page, with links to each section on the site, and then copied to each page. I was able to create each page as I created the first link. I am very impressed with this tool. I was able to create this hyperlinked set of web pages, with no knowledge of HTML. I had one small problem with editing the graphic at the bottom of one page. So, I closed the browser window, and opened it again. It automatically saves the pages every few minutes. This program would work well for a presentation portfolio, but GoogleDocs would work better if the goal is a learning portfolio, with interactivity and feedback. I could see GoogleDocs used to create artifacts, with collaboration and feedback, and Google Pages used for the formal presentation portfolio.

    Monday, August 27, 2007

    Elgg (Eduspaces)

    I've been watching the Elgg tool for several years, but was waiting until the presentation builder was finished. This is the 29th tool that I have used to re-create my electronic portfolio. The process moved pretty smoothly. I was able to convert all URLs to weblinks. The tool allowed me to reconstruct my portfolio in less than an hour, copying the information from my ZohoWriter portfolio, where I had the URLs on the page (and the links). I easily uploaded a few graphics. All of my other artifacts are web links.

    Since I prefer to have the links open a new window (and the portfolio remains open), I was able to specific each link to open in a new window. When an artifact is opened, the reader can close the window and easily return to the portfolio, rather than using the Back button. There is also no data management tool, to aggregate assessment data. Therefore, this tool would work for formative assessment (providing teacher and peer feedback on student work) but not for summative assessment.

    The real advantage of Elgg is the social networking and blogging built into the system, as well as the file management system. I could not figure out how to create links to another Elgg presentation page, so I put the entire portfolio into a single presentation page. The program created a Table of Contents at the top of the page, with links to each section on the page. Very nice! It is very nice to have a presentation builder now as part of Elgg. Even if it is a very simple tool, it allows text, blog posts and files to be included on a presentation page. I would really like pages and sub pages, such as in WordPress, but at least it now has another way to present portfolio data, instead of just the reverse chronological order of the blog.

    Sunday, August 19, 2007

    ePortfolio Institute at Stanford

    I had the privilege of participating in an ePortfolio conference at Stanford last week. In two days, more than 26 participants came together to plan their ePortfolio implementations. A few were from the private sector, and one person was from a local high school, but most from higher education. There were participants from Guatemala, Japan and New Zealand as well as across the U.S. But what impressed me most was how they modeled the use of technology. Helen Chen and the staff at the Stanford Center for Innovations in Learning, drew on the extensive research done at Stanford on Folio Thinking. Leaders of the EPAC, Tracy Penny-Light and John Ittelson, led the group in the planning process and technology implementation. Toru Iiyoshi of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching introduced the KEEP Toolkit for the participants to use. Their guest dinner speaker was Jim Gemmel of Microsoft, who spoke about the MyLifeBits research project. I was a last minute addition to the schedule, and I spoke about digital storytelling, Web 2.0 tools, and assessment for learning.

    I was most impressed by the way they used technology. The institute was held in Wallenberg Hall, where Stanford explores many innovations in teaching and learning, so there was wireless Internet. Everyone was encouraged to bring laptops, and there were extras to use. The conference established a PBWiki site, and one graduate student was assigned to document the activities of the conference in the wiki. Everyone was given a page in the wiki to document their thoughts. There was extensive use of digital cameras, as well as the small handheld USB Flip Video cameras which were used to record reflections on the process. I was privileged to interview three individuals and one team about their reflections at the end of the workshop, using the Flip cameras. They also used traditional technologies, like white boards, markers and sticky notes. I'm not sure if the participants realized how much they experienced the process of creating an ePortfolio, especially using the wiki and video reflections. I really appreciated how the workshop leaders modeled the process.

    Tuesday, August 14, 2007

    CD Burning Question

    I received the following question in an email last week:
    I have recently started to implement the use of electronic portfolios using Microsoft Word with hyperlinks to digital media. Much of the work linked has been converted to PDF files and all works well until we try to burn collections to CD. Once a collection is on a CD and we click on a hyperlinked file, we get the "Cannot open specified file" message and the link is still referencing the original storage drive. Can you tell me how to avoid this?
    Here is my response: Now you know why I no longer use Microsoft Word for ePortfolios. You might try GoogleDocs (the equivalent Web 2.0 tool). If you converted everything to PDF (including the portfolio) and hyperlinked the documents together (or put everything into a single PDF file with hyperlinks), you would solve that problem when you publish to CD. My instructions for creating PDF-based portfolios are online: (but that was published in 2001).

    But even that process is ePortfolio 1.0. You really need to look at some new tools, but using the same strategies. I really like wikis and blogs or many interactive Web 2.0 tools. I have a web page that outlines the different options:

    CDs are going away. Even DVDs are limited in the future. They aren't interactive environments. Read my description of ePortfolio 1.0 and ePortfolio 2.0:
    Everything is moving to the WWW. Here is my latest proposal for a paper at next year's AERA (created/published in GoogleDocs):

    Monday, August 13, 2007

    iPod Microphones

    At the workshop last week, the participants used the xTreme Mac MicroMemo iPod microphone. I have the Belkin TuneTalk Stereo and also the Griffin iTalk Pro. Today I found a "shootout" of these three from the O'Reilly Digital Media blog. I have ordered the MicroMemo version for my brand new iPod Nano, since they make one specifically for the Nano. I will do my own experiment when it gets here, to see which one I like best. The Belkin has a switch to set the gain, and it can be plugged into USB power. I find that I can only record a little over an hour with the Belkin before I have to charge my video iPod (30 GB). Last week, I used the Belkin on my Nano, and recorded two hours on a fully-charged Nano battery (it records to flash memory, not a hard drive, so there are no hard drive noises or delays). I noticed in the workshop that for many of the participants, the audio of their narration was very quiet. I will explore techniques for placing the MicroMemo for optimal recording quality.

    Thursday, August 09, 2007

    An ePortfolio Vision Statement

    Last June, I worked with a school district in New Hampshire on ePortfolios. Over the summer, they built a vision statement about ePortfolios:
    Throughout SAU 16, the cumulative student digital portfolio for grades K-12 is a collection of both educational experiences and artifacts selected by the student with the guidance of his/her teachers. These artifacts and the accompanying student reflections show the student’s learning process and chronicle growth within the curriculum and across his/her school career. Through both the process of their creation and the documents they incorporate, digital portfolios provide ongoing evidence of their personal learning, achievements and literacy skills for the 21st Century, across all subject areas. Additionally, digital portfolios foster the child's concept of self, commitment to personal growth, and promote life-long learning to keep them competitive in a global society.
    Very impressive!

    Another Amazing Workshop

    Yesterday, I completed another digital storytelling workshop for a school district in Oregon (this time, Gresham-Barlow). After my opening keynote to their Summer Technology Institute, I led a workshop for 28 teachers who all received a similar set of technology to the teachers in Canby last winter: camcorder, digital camera, tripod, video iPod with microphone. Of course they were all using MacBooks and iMovie! We set to work developing digital stories around either personal or classroom themes. Again, I am in awe of what these teachers produced. This time, our workshop was one afternoon the first day, a full second day, and the morning of the third day. We spent two hours before the lunch break on that last day viewing all of these stories. Some stories brought tears to the eyes, many made us laugh, all of them touched something in each of us. I always find some magic in that sharing time, especially seeing the stories that emerged between the story circle on the first day, and the final showing on the last day.

    This was my digital storytelling workshop with a new assistant, my daughter Erin. She was a great help in the workshop, and even spent the two evenings finishing the script for her second digital story, and putting it together. It is posted on YouTube. We vowed to do more of these workshops together!

    Saturday, August 04, 2007

    CARPE Research and MyLifeBits

    I just came across some research being conducted at Microsoft: Jim Gemmell's research project called MyLifeBits Project, which is exploring "lifetime store of everything" using Gordon Bell's life work (the "official guinea pig" for the project). This work has been written up in Scientific American (A Digital Life, March 2007) and a New Yorker Article (Remember This? - May 2007). CARPE (Capture, Archival & Retrieval of Personal Experiences) is a research area of the ACM's SIGMM (Special Interest Group Multimedia). It seems that the time is right to explore these ideas, but not just in the context of later adulthood. I am interested in how we can begin this process early in life, but be more selective in what we save, as we advocate in the portfolio process (Collection, SELECTION, Reflection, Direction). I think there is a lot that the portfolio community can learn from this project... and vice versa.

    Friday, July 27, 2007

    ADE Institute 2007

    I am finishing up a marathon experience with over 200 of my fellow Apple Distinguished Educators. From the hands-on sessions of Wednesday, to our field trip to the Defense Language Institute and Language Lines in Monterey, focusing on second language learning, to the 24 hour group project that replaced a good night sleep, all produced wonderful memories. We put together a team project that was awesome, and my batteries are charged again with enthusiasm and new energy. These educators truly modeled the combination of creativity and technology.

    Wednesday, July 25, 2007

    Their Space

    Their Space: Education for a digital generation is a research report published in 2007 by Demos, a think tank in the U.K. This timely study focused on how children and young people use new technologies and tested their hypothesis: that schools need to respond to the way young people are learning outside the classroom. To quote from the Executive Summary (p.16-17):
    In order to see change across the system, there needs to be a shift in thinking about investment from hardware towards relationships and networks. In the last ten years we have seen a staggering change in the amount of hardware in schools, but it has not had a significant impact on teaching and learning styles. So what does this mean for schools? It means that they need to really listen and respond to their users. Schools often fail to start in the right place – with the interests and enthusiasms of their students. They also need to recognise the new digital divide – one of access to knowledge rather than hardware – and start to redress some of the existing imbalances. Finally they need to develop strategies to bridge formal and informal learning, home and school. They should find ways that go with the grain of what young people are doing, in order to foster new skills and build on what we know works.
    Well said. I hope this report gets more attention in the U.S.

    Tuesday, July 24, 2007

    Becta Research Report

    Becta released their "Impact study of e-portfolios on learning"
    The study was conducted by a team of researchers in the Learning Sciences Research Institute at The University of Nottingham led by Dr Elizabeth Hartnell-Young. This report presents the potential impact of e-portfolios on learning and teaching and is primarily aimed at policy-makers. This study provides eight case studies in the early stages of e-portfolio use from across the sectors of education, from primary school to adult learning. To quote the report:
    E-portfolios benefit learning most effectively when considered as part of a system, rather than as a discrete entity.
    This model from their report identifies the three distinct components of an e-portfolio system: the digital archive (repository of evidence), tools to support different processes, and different presentation portfolios developed for different purposes and audiences.

    Tuesday, July 17, 2007

    Correspondence on Digital Archives & ePortfolios

    I received another message from Mike Caulfield in reference to a previous dialogue that we had:
    Recently there’s been a rather vigorous discussion in my part of the blogosphere about what we’ve been calling the “Inverted LMS”

    The idea is pretty simple – let students blog in wordpress or another blog (as in your portfolio examples) and let them tag specific entries with a “portfolio” tag. Then use an RSS aggregator to pull those entries into the institutional blog, where they can be categorized organized and saved for institutional assessment.

    A friend at Univ. Mary Washington has been looking into this arrangement for making multiple classes out of single student blogs (although not for eportfolio, yet)[Tech details here]

    The LMS is “inverted” because rather than creating spaces for classes and filling them with students, he starts with the student as the atomic unit, and through category tagging and aggregators build the class piece – class or course is an attribute of something a student says, rather than the box in which they say it…

    The neat thing about this is that the students can truly own their own reflective space, and only cede a portion of it as a portfolio. This encourages the student to see the portfolio piece as just a part of a larger ongoing process of reflection and story-telling. And it allows them to do it in a space they own – one that stands outside arbitrary divisions of class, subject and school vs. work vs. personal interests.

    Anyway, I’d be glad to hear your thoughts on it. As you can see, one of my main concerns intersects with yours – that we make this process student-centered, not assessment centered, and that we develop this as a habit in them, not as an assignment.
    First, there is nothing wrong with assessment, as long as it is student-centered, or benefiting student learning. But too often, the term is mis-understood, and used to mean "evaluation" or "accountability" or another purpose that is more institution-centered. A student doing self-assessment is engaged in a powerful process. Rather than calling your idea an inverted LMS, why not call it a Personal Learning Environment (PLE) or personal learning space. I discussed this briefly after the New Zealand ePortfolio Conference. As I look at how (mostly young) people use MySpace or FaceBook or most blogs, they are often using these online spaces not only for social networking, but also for identity production. I also received another message today from Nathan Garrett of Woodbury University a Claremont graduate student, who was commenting on my blog entry and Digital Archive for Life paper:
    On a theory level, I have been heavily influenced by Donald Schon’s view of the reflective practitioner, and have been making my way through Dewey’s work. I am particularly interested in the “learning to be” part of education, helping new students to understand the way a practitioner thinks in their discipline.

    At heart, I am interested in the development of systems to connect people and allow them to express themselves. I am particularly interested in distributed systems loosely coupled together that, as you put it, “allow a thousand flowers to bloom.” I see a lot of potential for technologies like RSS and open ID to aggregate and distribute people's identities. I think that one of the largest issues surrounding distributed systems is control and safety; how do we let users control their own identity in a truly distributed system? My own research at Claremont has shown that students deeply care about having the ability to limit access, but also have an imperative to establish themselves by making their work better known. Experience with my own families’ blogs and early attempts at photo sharing have really highlighted this issue for me.

    Ultimately, I'm trending towards the view that the system we will end up with will use RSS to expose content, tags to organize it, and open ID to selectively share content with certain people. The organizing systems would be crucial, and probably needs to be open source for broader adoption (and easily copied or imitated by commercial companies, whose competition and adoption would be crucial).
    The challenge I see is raising the awareness of the potential for using these more open systems, and to provide models that show how they work in practice. I can see this working well in higher education, but my current interest is in K12 schools and in families, where the concern for security is paramount. We need more research at all levels of human development, to validate some of these theories.

    Yesterday, I purchased the Freedom Writers DVD. I had seen Erin Gruwell last February at a conference, so I knew the story and had watched the video many times on my cruise and on some flights this spring. But I was able to focus more on the commentary and the underlying meaning of this movie. Erin Gruwell's students used writing as a tool for liberation and self-identity, first in their hand-written journals and later in the computer lab. They didn't call these journals "blogs" because they weren't online (at least not in the movie) and there was an emphasis on anonymity. However, that same process is experienced by many young learners, as they use many different types of Web 2.0 technology for self expression. This movie provides an example of a talented teacher who challenged and channeled these writing efforts to a positive outcome in these young lives; it shows the power of reflection and storytelling to change lives.

    Sunday, July 15, 2007

    iPhone verdict -- not yet (for me)

    I tried out an iPhone at the local Apple store, and decided not to buy this version, at least not just yet. It took me forever to type a URL into Safari (mostly because of my long fingernails!), but it would also raise my phone bill $20 a month. I'm not convinced that it would be as functional for me as my current Treo 680, where I can make the small keys work fairly well with my fingernails. If the iPhone would connect with a bluetooth keyboard, then I might find it more useful for email on the road.

    I really want BT DUN (BlueTooth Dial Up Networking). My old Sony Ericsson T616 BlueTooth phone acted as a modem for my Mac laptop (at 9600 baud it was painfully slow, but I was able to download my email to my desktop computer, not to my phone). I've tried unsuccessfully for the last hour or so to make my Palm Treo 680 to do BT DUN (the website shows that I can, I downloaded the drivers but they don't seem to be working), but I can still download email to my phone and do minimal web surfing, if I need to (not often). So far the BT DUN option is not available on the iPhone at this time. So, it's not worth it to me to replace my 8-month-old Treo with a $500 device that will cost me more each month. I think it needs a few more features before it will do what I want to do. I am also waiting for the AT&T speed to improve. I bought one of the first Macs in January 1984, and it cost me a lot to keep upgrading it before I finally replaced it with a Mac SE (remember the 80s?). That experience taught me to wait for a later version of any new technology. They work out the bugs, expand the features, and maybe even lower the price.

    As an Apple Distinguished Educator, I know I'll get a chance to play with one at our Institute in a little over a week. Maybe after that time, I'll change my mind, but right now, I think I'll wait for the next version.

    Saturday, July 14, 2007

    Creativity and ePortfolios

    I just spent the day getting caught up on TED videos. What an incredible resource on the most interesting ideas, all presented in 20-minute chunks! I was most impressed with the video of Sir Ken Robinson entitled, "Do Schools Kill Creativity?" I also remembered that I received a copy of the latest version of the National Educational Technology Standards for Students at NECC. These revised technology standards begin with Creativity and Innovation, followed by Communication and Collaboration, Research and Information Fluency, Critical Thinking, Problem-Solving & Decision-Making, Digital Citizenship, and lastly, Technology Operations and Concepts. Maybe now, portfolios will become more valued for the development and demonstration of these new standards, as they will be used in New Hampshire. The use of electronic portfolios to develop and demonstrate creativity in K12 schools is my new mission (and passion).

    Friday, July 13, 2007

    My Vision of a Digital Archive for Life

    I recently had a meeting at the Center for Advanced Technology in Education, part of the Teacher Education Department at the University of Oregon. As a result of that meeting, I have started to expand on an earlier blog entry (Digital Archive for Life). Here is the executive summary of the paper, which is posted as a GoogleDoc. Comments are welcome. If anyone would like to collaborate on these ideas, send me an email. I intend to publish a polished version of this article in On The Horizon, a journal on Futures and Education.
    In this article, I have outlined my vision for digital stories of development, or Online Personal Learning Environments which may eventually replace what we currently call “electronic portfolios” in education. Based on the concept of “lifetime personal web space,” this online archive of a life’s collection of artifacts and memorabilia, both personal and professional, has the potential to change the current paradigm of electronic portfolios, mostly institution-bound, and focus instead on the individual or the family as the center for creating the digital archive, which can be used in a variety of contexts across the lifespan, from schools to universities to the workplace. Finally, this archive can be used to develop personal histories and reflective narratives to preserve our stories for future generations. A possible scenario is followed by the challenges faced when developing this service for widespread dissemination.

    Tuesday, June 26, 2007

    NECC07 Conference - Day 4

    What happened to Day 2 & 3? A whole lot of networking and conversation! Today was the day that I did my presentation on the Multiple Purposes of Digital Stories and Podcasts in ePortfolios, or as I subtitled it, "YouTube/iTunes meets 'academic' MySpace." I also finished my digital story called NameTags, which is now on my website (in several places). Now it is going on my iPod!

    Saturday, June 23, 2007

    NECC07 Conference - Day 1

    This morning, I gave a workshop on "Using Wikis for Classroom-Based Assessment and Interactive Student ePortfolios." I chose to do only a half day workshop, so that I could provide an introduction to the tool, but not worry about going too in-depth. I received some good feedback ("I thought I knew everything about ePortfolios until I came to your workshop"). I don't take the checklist approach, and emphasize voice and passion, so I know that made an impression. The workshop was a BYOL (Bring Your Own Laptop) although some of the participants did not realize (now did I), so some were there without a computer (a bit frustrating!). But I think it went well.

    This afternoon, I am attending the EduBloggers conference. I had not planned to do anything this afternoon, but I saw the sign as I arrived at the Convention Center. So I wandered in, and here I am! I've met people that I've known by name in the Blogosphere (and in person at other conferences) and other people have introduced themselves to me because they know me through my website. I am really impressed by the innovative educators that are here at this conference. This is a good way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

    Wednesday, June 06, 2007

    My eCoach

    This is the 27th tool that I have used to recreate my electronic portfolio. I was asked to try out the tool by the founder of the company. Since I copied the pages from an earlier online version, I was able to reconstruct my portfolio in less than an two hours, copying and pasting the information, although the fine tuning the formatting took more time. As with all of my other portfolios, all of my artifacts are documents already stored on one of my websites. It did not automatically convert URLs embedded into the text into hyperlinks; I had to convert each artifact link individually, although I was told that it should have converted them.

    My eCoach offers collaboration, communication, curriculum, and coaching tools for a one-time fee of $35 to set up the account. A team leader can set up teams for $200. This version of my portfolio was created using the Universal [Web Page] Builder. I set the setting so that every page in this portfolio will allow comments, which provides the opportunity for interactivity/feedback.

    My general impression is that this tool is relatively easy to use, although it took me a few tries to select the right template. It created an attractive layout, although limited to 800 pixels wide, to accommodate older computers and projectors. This caused a problem with one of the images that I uploaded, which they fixed. The system allows 100 MB of online storage, so I uploaded a video version of my last portfolio.

    This is a flexible tool that allows for cloning pages, for others to leave comments, and coaching support from an eCoach. Users can create multiple tabs as categories with multiple pages under each category. Each page has a text editor that allows users to add text, images, videos, audio files, podcasts, documents, presentations, and most types of files.

    Sunday, June 03, 2007

    PowerPoint & LecShare Pro

    PowerPoint is the 26th tool that I have used to create my electronic portfolio. I authored the portfolio in PowerPoint and then created different versions linked from a more comprehensive web page. In addition to using LecShare Pro, I also used the "Save as Web Page..." command in PowerPoint. The Lecshare HTML version (with audio and notes) did not create hyperlinks that I had created in the PowerPoint file; the PowerPoint-created HTML version includes the hyperlinks. The more detailed reflection on the web page is also part of the audio narration at the end of the video versions.

    Saturday, June 02, 2007

    Passion and Future ePortfolios

    I just finished watching the Steve Jobs-Bill Gates fireside chat at the All Things Digital Executive Conference, sponsored by Dow Jones. It has been more than 20 years since these two people have been on the same stage together, and some of the moments were hilarious. It was also funny to watch the video from 1983 (the Macintosh Software Dating Game). But the real value in watching the entire program was the vision of these two pioneers of the future of personal computer technology (and other post-PC devices). What impressed me was that these two geniuses don't have a clear picture of where we will be in ten years, but they are both excited to take us there! It is also obvious that these two people have passion about what they do, and this passion is what drives them: not the money, but the act of creation, of "inventing the future" (to quote Alan Kay).

    That reminded me of a statement made by Thomas Friedman in The World is Flat: CQ + PQ > IQ (Curiosity plus Passion is greater than IQ) in the learning process. As I look at my work on ePortfolios, I feel a real disconnect between my vision of the ePortfolio as a way to document the story of deep learning, and the pervasive implementation of ePortfolios as a source of data for accountability and accreditation. As I quoted Hartnell-Young and Morriss in an earlier blog entry, portfolios created for this purpose "tend to be heavy with documentation but light on passion."

    As I wrap up my current study on ePortfolios in secondary education, I know what I want to study next: this issue of passion, or framed a little less suggestively, excitement, flow and engagement. When I talked with students last year, I heard more excitement in the students' voices when they talked about their use of MySpace than their use of the academic tools. If part of the problem in education today is that many students are bored and see no relevance in schools, I want to find examples of where students are excited about learning, using ePortfolios as a way to demonstrate that excitement for learning. Maybe those places are few and far between, but if we are going to change education, we need to change the way students document their own learning. My passion for the last decade (or more) has been ePortfolios, and the related processes that enrich the experience (reflection, digital storytelling). I realize that I have changed my vision from the early days, when I was more focused on assessment and standards-based portfolios. Today, especially due to my travels around the English-speaking world, talking to primarily educators at ePortfolio conferences, my vision has broadened to a more lifelong, life wide perspective. ePortfolios aren't just for schools... in fact schooling may be ruining the experience for a lot of learners. I hope that we can find the passion again in documenting, and better yet, celebrating learning within a worldwide community. That is a future worth working toward.

    Friday, June 01, 2007

    Digital Preservation of ePortfolios

    I just received an eMail raising this question (his discussion of the power of the portfolio to prepare for job interviews was very well done):
    I've recently become interested in the durability of ePortfolios -- as I describe in this piece here (ePortfolios, Durability, and the Black Binder Test). I was wondering if you've heard of any attempts to decouple the interface and presentation of ePortfolios from the storage of the artifacts (and optionally the reflections) -- say through using Amazon S3 or some other 3rd party space that could be truly owned by the student or faculty member regardless of where they wind up. Is anyone moving in this direction?
    My first e-portfolio was created in 1997 (10 years ago), using Adobe Acrobat and pressed to a CD. I still have a copy of that portfolio (on my hard drive) and I assume the original would be readable, if I could find the CD. Most of the systems that you mentioned in your blog entry all allow exporting the portfolio into an HTML archive that can be stored on any online system that the learner "owns". So the solution to the problem that you pose is to store these portfolios in an online system. The challenge is finding systems that will be around for a while. I pay an annual fee for my online storage, and I am exploring GoogleApps. Yahoo is too small for portfolios, and I don't know if I should trust some of the online storage systems like There are other free systems out there, like, but I don't think they handle entire HTML archives.

    I think if portfolios are stored in HTML (ASCII text) or PDF formats, those are the two formats approved by the Library of Congress for digital preservation. There are other issues for preserving audio and video, but WWW-compatible universal formats should be safe for the next ten years. The next step would be XML formats, which the European ePortfolio community is trying to address. There are also now IMS ePortfolio standards, but I'm not sure that the commercial providers in the U.S. all conform to that standard. But virtually all of them allow exporting a portfolio to disk archive.

    You can look at my study of online portfolios (I am up to 25 versions of my portfolio). If I was able to download a copy, I posted it on my web server and created a link to it. You will also notice that all of my artifacts are web links to artifacts that are posted on one of my web servers. So, I am modeling the concept of "lifetime personal web space" which Cohn & Hibbits advocated in their 2004 Educause article. The issue of digital preservation is real, but has been solved, at least in the short term (10 years). The real question becomes whether these portfolios can last as long as their paper versions (50+ years).

    This is not just an issue with ePortfolios. What about all of the digital photographs and other digital documents that we collect? Some historians are concerned that we may have a "hole in history" because so much of our data is now stored in digital formats, which are one hard drive crash away from extinction. So, backing up our data to online servers becomes more critical. I try to model that process, but at a cost. I hope I have instilled those same values in my children. Of course, I wrote in an earlier blog entry about the tragedy of New Orleans and the loss of memories and physical memorabilia that happens in these type of disasters. So, establishing digital archives online becomes even more important.

    Tuesday, May 29, 2007

    LecShare Pro

    I bought the LecShare Pro software, and converted my keynote address from the ePortfolio Hong Kong conference into several different formats. The results are posted on a single web page. I was told by the developers of the LecShare software that "the slowness of importing is actually due to the way MS Office works on the Mac. When the new version of Office comes out we hope that Microsoft's API is much more responsive."

    I am very impressed with the output of this LecShare Pro software. The quality of the video is very good, and the process is much easier than using the other strategies that I have tried.

    Thursday, May 24, 2007

    Slide-to-Video Software so far

    Here is the Macintosh software that I have tried so far, and the issue with each one:
    • GarageBand's Podcast track -- works well, if you export PowerPoint to individual JPEGS (changing format to square image), import them one-by-one onto the Podcast track. The quality of video is marginal.
    • iMovie -- works very well, but not efficient -- you also have to export PowerPoint to individual JPEGS, and then adjust length of each slide to match audio on timeline.
    • PowerPoint's export to video -- which does not synchronize audio with slides unless you embed individual audio clips on each slide... then it works very well, but not very efficient. And the files are huge
    • Keynote's export to QuickTime -- same issue as PowerPoint (embed audio in each slide), but much slower process and QuickTime clip doesn't have controller at the bottom (not sure if there is a setting I am missing)
    • ProfCast -- which only allows live recording ($30) which might work for some, but I like to edit my iPod recordings before adding the slides.
    • LecShare Pro -- which is the most promising so far, but slow and quirky - it works with PowerPoint, saves its coding into the PowerPoint file or the audio file. That tool also lets you convert these slide shows to accessible HTML and uses both pre-recorded audio or lets you record directly in the program for each slide.

    Wednesday, May 23, 2007

    Convert narrated slide shows

    I am starting to use my iPod and Belkin microphone to record my presentations at conferences & workshops. I am experimenting with strategies to turn these presentations (primarily in PowerPoint) into video so that I can post them on my website. I started using GarageBand last fall, converting each slide into JPEGs and importing them into the Podcast track in GarageBand. I wasn't happy with the final quality of the video, although the result looked fine on an iPod: here is my half-hour keynote at the ePortfolio conference in Oxford, England last fall:

    Earlier this month, I presented a closing keynote address to a conference in Finland while I was on a cruise (I sent them a DVD with the keynote presentation, and called them from the cruise ship for Q&A after the presentation was over). Since the keynote contained many examples of digital stories, I recorded the audio with SoundStudio and used iMovie to put together the video, inserting full DV versions of each story in between my slides (converted to JPEG) with audio narration inserted. I was pleased with the quality of the videos, although I thought the slides were grainy.

    I am looking for better ways to automate this process. When I search the Internet for software to convert PowerPoint to video, I find mostly Windows software. I know we have ADE licenses for Impatica for PowerPoint, although it converts PowerPoint into web pages - I do not see a video option.

    I also downloaded a new product called LecShare Pro (with a Mac version!) which converts PowerPoint slide shows into these different formats: QuickTime, MPEG-4, Accessible HTML, Microsoft Word, audio only. Last night, I took the audio from the 45 minute keynote from a session that I did in Hong Kong in March, synchronized the audio clip with the slides and converted the whole thing into several formats. Since I have not registered the software ($69), there is a watermark on all of the slides, but it shows what is possible. The audio is also not compressed in the trial version, so the file is really too large to post on the Internet. But the process of synchronizing the audio to the slides was fairly straightforward, once I got started. The software worked directly with PowerPoint, but was pretty slow opening and saving files.

    The software also allows recording audio directly, slide by slide, into a file. This option might work very nicely with ePortfolios created in PowerPoint. Students could do audio reflections on their portfolios with this tool, then convert them for either WWW, DVD or CD publishing.

    I am looking for more Macintosh software that will help me take my audio clips and my slides, and put them together into different output formats.

    Friday, May 11, 2007

    Call completed

    Through reasons unknown, I could not receive a phone call on the ship, so I bought a phone card and was able to place a phone call from the ship's office phone, where I also had a wireless connection for my computer. I called the conference organizer's cell phone and he was able to connect my voice into the sound system in the room. I was able to say hello. There were no questions, but I gave them a few parting words, told them where I was cruising, had set up a blog, and welcomed comments and emails if they had any questions. I heard them clap, and then he hung up the phone. It was all over by 7 AM (my time on the ship).

    Thursday, May 10, 2007

    First VideoFunet conference in Finland

    I am doing a "virtual" video closing keynote presentation at the first VideoFunet conference in Finland. My presentation is entitled, "Digital Stories and ePortfolios: Documenting Lifelong and LifeWide Learning." I put together a 48 minute video and a "How-To" page for this conference. If participants have any questions, add a comment to this blog entry.

    Technology on the High Seas

    For the last 10 days, I have been on a cruise, from Ft. Lauderdale to Seattle (yes, through the Panama Canal... it was incredible). The technology for supporting the virtual presentation above has been a challenge. I tried three times to create a DVD in PAL format. For some reason, iDVD kept freezing, so I compressed the video with the best quality and uploaded a 1.6 GB MOV file to my server.

    I also sent a data DVD to the conference organizers before I left. The conference presentation is actually in Finland on Friday afternoon (early morning for me, off the coast of Mexico between Acapulco and Cabo San Lucas). I had a challenging time getting the right telephone number to receive a phone call in my room (and I'm still not sure of exact GMT). So, if I get a phone call, that will work. Otherwise, I am inviting any conference participants to either send me an email with their questions or post a comment to this blog entry.

    Why not use Skype? Because the cruise line blocks all voice connections over Skype, they say because of bandwidth issues. Their Internet access is by satellite. Also, my Internet access costs me 25 cents per minute. I bought a plan for 500 minutes when I got on the ship the day I arrived. That has worked OK for eMail and the occasional travel blog entry. I am averaging a half hour a day. At one port, I was able to get Internet access for $6/hour, and was able to have a Skype conversation with my daughter in Budapest.

    On my Mediterranean cruise last year, I used iWeb for my 2006 travel blog. I had a lot of trouble with uploading the files to my .Mac account over the slow satellite connection. This year I am not taking as many pictures or any shore excursions, so I decided to take a simpler approach, setting up another Blogger blog. I do have two hours of video of the day we crossed the Panama Canal. Some of it is as interesting as watching paint dry (or water raise up by gravity feed, or lock gates open/close), but I should be able to edit it down to the key scenes.

    Friday, April 13, 2007

    AERA Conference

    I facilitated a symposium at AERA on April 11 entitled, Researching Electronic Portfolios in Schools: The Role of Teacher Professional Development. We had more than 30 people in attendance on a very snowy day in Chicago! Many people from outside the U.S. were interested in this research. There were some very interesting questions about the study, some of which I realized I was not prepared to answer, especially about impact on student learning. I co-presented with Evangeline Harris Stefanakis, who is doing longitudinal research in schools in New York City, where she is finding interesting results with bilingual students in some of the poorest schools in the city (they use PowerPoint as their ePortfolio tool). I have been working with her to get her results published on the Internet. She accompanied me on my trip to Australia and New Zealand, and since we shared flights and hotel rooms, we had lots of time to talk about research, especially in preparation for AERA.

    There were more than 46 portfolio papers in 10 different sessions at AERA, primarily focused on reflection and teacher education, and some valuable additions to the literature. I was also discussant at a session on Teacher Education portfolios. My REFLECT study in K12 schools is certainly unique, although there are some studies that are being conducted in England that will provide more knowledge about the widespread implementation of ePortfolios in schools. As the final 24 questions for students and teachers in our REFLECT data collection, I am using those that were also used in the study conducted by Elizabeth Hartnell-Young in a study sponsored last winter by BECTA (British Educational Computing & Telecommunications Agency). I spent over a week with Liz in Hong Kong and Australia in March, and talked with her about her research (and also launched her new book, which I discussed earlier in this blog). All of my experiences over the last two months of traveling have led me to think more deeply about the REFLECT study.

    Wednesday, April 04, 2007

    Bucklands Beach School

    I had a wonderful, too short visit to Bucklands Beach School near Auckland, New Zealand. After being wonderfully hosted by the Deputy Principal in her home on Tuesday night, we had an opportunity to see the school in operation: from the morning meeting to seeing various classes in progress, we saw an exciting school in a beautiful setting. Two students showed us their paper portfolios, and we were able to observe a student/parent/teacher conference. The school has many Apple computers, and I was able to see some of the students experimenting with several options to computerize their paper-based portfolios. I am hoping to get back to that school some time in the next year or so, to observe how they implement electronic portfolios within a very strong and structured paper-based portfolio system.

    Wednesday, March 28, 2007

    ePortfolio New Zealand

    I am once again so impressed with the ePortfolio leaders in New Zealand. I am just finishing up a wonderful day-and-a-half of conversations about electronic portfolios. There is a new open source portfolio being built in New Zealand, called Mahara, which is based on the three components of artifacts (collection), multiple views, and audiences (selection). I appreciated having a delightful dinner last evening with the Mahara team.

    There were a lot of K-12 teachers attending this conference. What I heard from the closing session of this conference was the general theme that the ePortfolio was really a personal learning space. I agree with that perspective. It really puts the ePortfolio into a perspective.

    New web pages

    I created two new web pages while in Australia:

    Sunday, March 25, 2007

    Launching a new Book in Melbourne

    I am delighted to launch the second edition of the book Digital Portfolios written by Elizabeth Hartnell-Young and Maureen Morriss, published by Corwin Press. I bought their earlier edition when it first came out, and quoted from it extensively, since it was the first book that was published on this topic. Beginning with the introduction by Barbara Cambridge, the entire book provides an overview of the process of constructing a digital professional portfolio, including some very useful tools. I especially appreciate the permission form and evaluation rubrics provided, with permission to duplicate them provided to purchasers of the book.

    The authors have provided an overview of the many issues that can arise from the multiple purposes for developing electronic portfolios. I especially liked the following quote:
    While these are legitimate uses for portfolios, when teachers perceive that accountability is viewed as more important than their knowledge and expertise, they can become cynical, and their portfolios tend to be heavy with documentation but light on passion. (p.8)
    With portfolios being used in many sectors of education and for both summative and formative assessment, it is important to emphasize the elements that contribute to professional growth. This book provides a framework for professional educators to document their growth, maintaining the emotional engagement that gives meaning to the process. Their highlights on vision and knowing oneself provides further emphasis on using portfolios to support learning, not formatting or data.
    By capturing the experience of the learning journey, reflecting on its meaning over time, and sharing the learning with others, teachers develop new insights and understanding. (p.27)
    The book also emphasized the importance of building a personal archive of work (with references to the Cohn & Hibbits article on Lifetime Personal Web Space). The book also provides a focus and guide to reflection. One chapter provides ten practical steps in creating a digital portfolio, beginning with a quote from one of my articles:
    A portfolio that is truly a story of learning is owned by the learner, structured by the learner, and told in the learner's own voice. (p.39)
    A key component of the philosophy in this book is that teachers not only prepare a digital portfolio to help develop their own technology competency while reflecting on their own growth over time, they can also use this opportunity to model the portfolio development process for their students. "By presenting portfolios to various audiences, teachers learn the skills they need to develop with their students." (p.64) I couldn't agree more. A teacher with a digital portfolio is more likely to have students who have digital portfolios. This book's philosophy, that portfolio development is a process of professional growth (p.72), should be valued as a process to support educational reform. The emphasis on process (means) over product (ends).
    A fundamental principle of this book is that educators grow professionally as a result of producing a digital portfolio. They become producers as well as consumers of technology, enabling them to become more confident about using it in their daily work. They learn more about using the World Wide Web for teaching, research and for communicating with a global audience. This transfer of knowledge and skills will benefit not only themselves but their students, colleagues, and community. But more fundamentally, educators can show evidence of their deep learning...(p.78)
    Last weekend, when I told my daughter that I was launching a book on ePortfolios, she asked me when I was going to write my own book. I responded that I had a website and a blog. But when I read Elizabeth and Maureen';s book, I said that I really agreed with what they had to say, so I really didn't need to write a book. But that may change. In the meantime, I highly recommend this new version of Elizabeth and Maureen's book.

    Tuesday, March 20, 2007

    Hong Kong Conference

    This is the first stop on the Asia ePortfolio Trilogy tour. A group of about 40 Hong Kong educators gathered for the first ePortfolio conference in Hong Kong. I am really excited about what I see happening here, and the level of interest, despite the low level of attendance. There is now a policy in Hong Kong for all secondary students to develop a Student Learning Profile, which can have a variety of formats; one of those could be an ePortfolio. So there will be a lot of exciting developments happening in Hong Kong over the next few years.

    Monday, March 19, 2007

    K-12 Student Portfolio

    I just received permission to share an amazing student portfolio, that has been maintained in a single school from Kindergarten to senior year. The portfolio was created with Apple's iWeb, and represents learning in a Multiple Intelligences curriculum.

    Friday, March 16, 2007

    Workshop in Japan

    I have been in Japan since Wednesday, for a symposium on Portfolios in Medical Education at Mie University in Tsu, near Nagoya. I was a second presenter after another expert from a medical school in the U.K., where they have been using portfolios for high stakes, summative assessment. I provided quite a contrast with my focus on student-centered, formative portfolios. This was my second bilingual hands-on workshop: the first in Finland in 1998 and now Japan in 2007. This was quite a contrast. In Finland, I was teaching how to create an electronic portfolio with Adobe Acrobat. Today, we created an electronic portfolio with GoogleDocs. This time, I knew the tool well enough to be able to point to the part of the screen where the different commands existed in the English version, and it all worked, although I had a great workshop assistant who was typing and using the software in Japanese.

    The participants were very actively engaged in both yesterday afternoon's workshop, which was mostly lecture, and today's full day workshop, which was very hands-on and participatory. We had simultaneous translation, which I had only experienced a year ago in Italy, where it was all a lecture format. At least today, that was a lot of experiential learning going on. I learned one thing: only use the Firefox browser when using GoogleDocs. Internet Explorer for Windows did not work well.

    I am most impressed by how well I was taken care of while I was here. I was met at the airport and escorted to my hotel, where I had my first dinner. Every day, I was escorted to their offices or to where I needed to be for the workshops. Tomorrow, I will be escorted on the train back to the airport for my flight to Hong Kong. The taxicabs were immaculate, with white covers on the seats. My hotel had free wifi and free breakfast. Our lunches were catered in beautiful boxes. I had no idea about everything I was eating, but it was all very good. As my first trip to Japan, it was very impressive!

    Two Political Statements

    I came across these two websites on one of my listservs. This isn't a political blog but I just couldn't resist adding them here:

    It's not on the Test: Here's a new song about school testing that Tom Chapin wrote. It helped usher in the New Year on National Public Radio, appearing on "Morning Edition" on January 1, 2007.

    Mad TV's iRack


    Friday, March 09, 2007

    Identity Production and Online Portfolios

    I recently read a paper online entitled, "Identity Production in a Networked Culture: Why Youth Heart MySpace." In this article, based on a speech made at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, February 19, 2006, the author addresses three issues related to MySpace: identity production, hanging out and digital publics.
    The dynamics of identity production play out visibly on MySpace. Profiles are digital bodies, public displays of identity where people can explore impression management [2]. Because the digital world requires people to write themselves into being [3], profiles provide an opportunity to craft the intended expression through language, imagery and media....

    What we're seeing right now is a cultural shift due to the introduction of a new medium and the emergence of greater restrictions on youth mobility and access. The long-term implications of this are unclear. Regardless of what will come, youth are doing what they've always done - repurposing new mediums in order to learn about social culture.

    Technology will have an effect because the underlying architecture and the opportunities afforded are fundamentally different. But youth will continue to work out identity issues, hang out and create spaces that are their own, regardless of what technologies are available.
    A colleague of mine completed a dissertation a year ago, where she studied the implementation of electronic portfolios created using very different tools in two different Teacher Education programs. In one university, the students were taught to use a free web page editing tool (Composer) and were encouraged to individualize their portfolios. That university had developed a separate assessment management system to collect and manage the accountability data, which was not very obvious to the students. In the second university, the students were forced to purchase an account for 4-to-6 years in one of the commercial systems, and were provided with highly prescriptive assignments in a system "specifically designed to impose uniformity on the portfolio task." My colleague is presenting a case study at the SITE conference about the frustrations of a student in that second university, who was an experienced MySpace user, and used that experience to customize her portfolio, despite the constraints of the system.

    In one of my more recent blog entries, I shared an email from an educator who indicated that she was looking for a portfolio system that would allow students to individualize their portfolios (among other criteria). She also wanted it to be interactive, to support multimedia, to be secure, to allow assessment, and to be portable (i.e. students can take it with them when they leave). When a tool is developed, the tool developers have to prioritize their development efforts, to provide the most important tools that their clients say they need. That's why most of the ePortfolio tool developers have created very good assessment management systems, that collect data that institutions need for accountability and summative assessment. But in the order of priority, the needs of the learner, for an environment where they can express their own individuality through their portfolios, is often left on the "wish list" for future development (or not even considered).

    In my opinion, this situation is the result of programmers and technology experts developing what they think is an efficient system for collecting this data, not a tool that facilitates individuality and creativity. Perhaps the technicians don't recognize the psychological need for adolescents (and post-adolescents) to establish a unique identity, both face-to-face and online. In my current research, I am finding that MySpace is so popular because it encourages and enables individuality and creativity in addition to the social networking that also drives that system.

    In my review of the many tools out there, I found that there were many tradeoffs between usability and creativity, qualities that I think are very important to maintain student engagement. To their credit, the better commercial ePortfolio providers are addressing these usability issues as they continuously modify their software. But it is a challenge to balance competing priorities with limited resources.