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 box.net. There are other free systems out there, like ourmedia.org, 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.