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: http://electronicportfolios.org/portfolios/sitepaper2001.html (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: http://electronicportfolios.org/web20.html
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.