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, del.icio.us (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 del.icio.us, 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.