Monday, December 22, 2008

EQ and ePortfolios

Daniel Goleman defines emotional intelligence as:
the capacity for recognising our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves and for managing emotions effectively in others and ourselves.
I found this diagram online:
While the source of this diagram is focused on success in organizations, these abilities are essential for success in education at all levels. While most of this model focuses on empathy and interpersonal skills, the Personal competencies (Who I am... self awareness and What I do... self-motivation) is well documented in reflections that are the "heart and soul" of a reflective journal/portfolio.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Blogging and Reflection in ePortfolios

I just watched Arianna Huffington's interview on Charlie Rose Show, December 4, 2008, where she talked about blogging and the new book just published by her and the editors at Huffington Post. I'm one of those new readers of her blog site, getting hooked during the election campaign beginning in August 2008. I think blogs have had a huge impact on our political discourse; Arianna Huffington credits Obama's use of the Internet and social networking with his election as the 44th President of the United States.

Huffington said that blogging is successful because it is an intimate, conversational form of writing (first thoughts, best thoughts) and "the key is really to find your voice and to find your passion. That's what makes a good blog." These ideas support my opinion that a form of blogging should be included in any ePortfolio process: it provides a conversational form of writing that is essential for reflection and deep learning, which I believe is part of the "heart and soul" of a portfolio. I am promoting the concept of two portfolios: the Working Portfolio, which WSU calls the "workspace" or some schools have called the [digital] shoebox; and any number of Presentation Portfolios (depending on purpose and audience) which WSU calls the "showcase" and schools call "showtime!" In order to build more formal presentations, we need the digital archive or the storage of work samples (collection) to draw upon (selection) for inclusion in these presentations. Reflection takes place at two points in time: when the piece of work (an artifact) is saved in the digital archive (a contemporaneous reflection while the work is fresh on our minds)... thus the role of the blog; and when (and if) this piece is included in the more formal presentation/showcase or assessment portfolio. The reflection written at this point of time is more summative or cumulative, providing a much broader perspective on a body of work that represents the author's goals for the showcase portfolio. Technologically, selection would involve creating a hyperlink to specific blog entries (reflection) which may have documents (artifacts) as attachments.

These two types of reflection involve two levels of support for reflection: the reflection in a blog would focus on a specific piece of work or learning experience (such as in service learning), and what has been learned while the experience is very fresh or immediate. The reflection in a presentation portfolio is more of a retrospective as well as an argument, providing a rationale that a collection of work meets specific outcomes or goals (related to the goal of the portfolio).

Most ePortfolio systems tend to emphasize the showcase (portfolio as product) rather than the workspace (portfolio as process). There are also two different types of organization: Blogs are organized in reverse chronological order; most showcase portfolios are organized thematically, around a set of learning goals, outcomes or standards. Both levels of reflection and organization are important, and require different strategies for supporting different levels of reflection.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Workshops in New Hampshire

I just finished a tour of southern New Hampshire, doing workshops in Manchester, Keene and Peterborough. During a two-day workshop in Manchester, we started by setting up a GoogleApps site, created a journal using the Announcements page type in Google Sites, and then explored GoogleDocs. We began the second day with a discussion of formative vs. summative portfolios: the journal/blog format provides the environment for feedback in a working portfolio, organized in reverse-chronological order. Then we constructed the framework for a summative portfolio, to demonstrate the achievement of the new ISTE NETS for Students, which models the type of portfolio that students would need to create at the end of 8th grade to demonstrate the NCLB 8th grade ICT Literacy requirements. We had a great conversation about scaffolding reflection (and a great beginning template), and I realized there was a lot that I needed to learn about being an administrator of a GoogleApps for Education site. [I also attended an evening workshop for parents on Internet Safety that one of the workshop participants just happened to be facilitating... an eye-opener for me. In my opinion, it was a little negative...did not discuss the positive impact of the Internet, but it was a reality check about online predators, and reinforced for me the importance of setting up safe Web 2.0-type environments, protected from access outside the school.]

On the one-day workshop in Keene, I conducted my first video-conferenced hands-on workshop. Fortunately, there was a facilitator at the remote site who was with me in the Manchester workshop, so she could help with the hands-on component. In this workshop, we focused just on GoogleDocs, and only briefly discussed the importance of setting up a GoogleApps for Education site in a school or district. A team of participants in the Keene workshop (from a middle school) had participated in the "Letters to the President" project sponsored by Google and the National Writing Project:
Middle and high school students from across the country used Google Docs to write about the issues and concerns they want our next president to address.
Since many of the participants had this NWP experience, which they said really engaged their students ("They loved it!"), they were ready to see how to expand this experience into an ePortfolio. We built a GoogleDocs template for an ISTE NETS Reflective Portfolio, which I shared with other participants (who shared with others, etc.). (This is an update of my previous ISTE NETS templates created five years ago.) At the end of the workshop, I briefly showed the participants GoogleSites, and how this tool could work in a comprehensive portfolio process. I think I learned as much during this workshop as the participants!

My last workshop was with a team in a school district, to help them build a vision for implementing ePortfolios across the district. I provided my "New Hampshire" introduction to ePortfolios, then spent the afternoon working on how to develop a vision and the skills necessary to implement ePortfolios across the district. We emphasized the importance of effective implementation of technology across the curriculum, and both the superintendent and the IT director for the district attended the entire workshop, to better support both the pedagogical and technological components of this process. I felt pretty good when I left; there was a clear direction that this district was heading.

What did I learn/reinforce this week?
  • Engage students and teachers in authentic activities using technology (bottom-up)
  • Engage administrators in supporting the implementation of portfolios (top-down)
  • Adopt "safe" Web 2.0 tools to support the learning process in K-12 schools
  • Read the book Transformative Assessment by Popham (ASCD, 2008)

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A New Era

It is 6 AM on Wednesday, November 5, in Budapest, Hungary. I just watched John McCain's concession speech, streamed live by CNN/UStream over the Internet, followed by Barack Obama's speech in Chicago. When people asked where you were during this momentous occasion, I can say that I was just getting up! Being in Europe during the last two weeks of this campaign has had its benefits (no ads!) but it has also had it's challenges (staying current with the news...without TV). I gained a new appreciation for the power of the Internet, both to stay connected, through podcasts and websites, and now streaming video! My iTunes storage has ballooned in the last week! It also has a lot to say about how this campaign was won... through the grassroots organization on the Internet. This PRI/BBC/WGBH Special Election Edition podcast outlines the way that Obama's campaign used the Internet.

Friday, October 31, 2008

BBC tech news

I'm in Hungary on vacation, away from U.S. TV during the run-up to our election. In my hotel room there is no CNN... the only English channel is the BBC, which gives a different view of the news! I also downloaded a lot of podcasts from iTunes, including the World's Technology Podcast from BBC/PRI/WGBH.

Tonight I saw a new technology that could revolutionize small computers: (also on 10/17 WTC podcast) e-paper -- a screen made of plastic the size of a piece of paper, flexible and lightweight. Couple that technology with a keyboard on the screen (as I am currently typing on my iPhone), and you have a vision for new netbooks: flat, small, very portable. It could also reduce the use of paper (we've heard that before!). Called "e-reader" from Plastic Logic. (see the CNN video)

I also saw a special pen and clip (the brains) that holds paper; write with the pen on the slip of paper which gets recorded on the clip. When done, unclip the paper and connect the clip to a computer with the built-in USB connector and upload the image of what was written! Another version converted the handwritten text into computer text. I imagined a lot of ways to use this technology for collecting work samples from young students in schools without scanning!

Lots of new ideas to think about. Back to listening to podcasts!

Sent from my iPhone

Friday, October 24, 2008

ePortfolio 2008 in Maastricht

This is the last day of my sixth year attending the European ePortfolio conference in Maastricht in The Netherlands. During the first day, I led a full day workshop on Creating a Personal Learning Environment in the Web 2.0 Cloud. On the second day, I was primarily an attendee. This morning, I was on a panel that focused on the future of ePortfolios, and presented my model of a lifelong, life-wide portfolio "in the cloud."

This morning, the keynote speakers were from JISC in the UK, discussing their latest work on ePortfolios. I am impressed with the 40-page publication, Effective Practice with ePortfolios, that they just released, along with an InfoKit on ePortfolios. It provides a good overview of the process with some case studies in the U.K. in Higher Education and Further Education. This study complements the report published by Becta in 2007 which also addressed e-portfolios in schools, and the MOSEP report on a European study.

Since this conference was held in The Netherlands, there was a large participation from this country, and we were given another publication: Stimulating Lifelong Learning: The ePortfolio in Dutch Higher Education.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

ILC 2008 conference

Last week I attended the first Innovative Learning Conference sponsored by CUE and FETC and held in the San Jose Convention Center. The attendance looked pretty low, but it was good to connect with a lot of California educators. I made my presentation on Voice and Reflection: Many Purposes of Digital Storytelling in ePortfolios. I also attended a lot of sessions on using cell phones in education and several sessions on PhotoStory, which looks like it is becoming the multimedia tool of choice for Windows XP users. I wonder why Microsoft hasn't released a Vista version of this software. That is the main reason that I elected to get Windows XP on my new HP netbook.

Speaking of netbooks, I attended a session on these small inexpensive laptops that are starting to be used in education. I was interested in the discussion of the next generation XO laptop with two touch-sensitive displays, to be released in 2010. No keyboard! Very interesting design! I'm getting used to "typing on the screen" of my iPhone. I wonder if this is the direction of small laptops. This week Apple announced updates of MacBooks. When asked about netbooks, here was Steve Jobs' response: "... that's a nascent market that's just getting started." Hmmm... I recently read about an Apple patent application for a multi-touch user interface. As they say, stay tuned!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Dutch and Canadian e-portfolio efforts

The following item was posted in the Ning social network of the next ePortfolio conference to be held in Europe on October 22-24, 2008, in Maastricht, The Netherlands. The title of the blog entry was "Towards a future that works - the Committee on Labour Market Participation recommends an ePortfolio for all workers."
The Dutch Committee on Labour Market Participation has formulated a series of recommendations for getting more people into work in the Netherlands and improving the operation of the labour market. The Committee’s most significant conclusion is that the Dutch labour market is about to undergo drastic change:
  1. over the course of the coming decades, there will be more work to do but fewer people to do it;
  2. globalisation will increase the requirements regarding the level of knowledge and adaptability of the labour force. The Netherlands needs everybody – quickly! – and everybody must be constantly employable.
Among the recommandations, the fifth one is related to the ePortfolio as a mean to improve employability:

5. Improve employability. In order to increase employability, we make a number of recommendations for employers/employees, the education sector, and the benefits agencies.
  • Digital e-portfolio. Every member of the labour force will be entitled to a digital e-portfolio, i.e. an electronic inventory of their competencies, diplomas, experience, and accreditation of prior learning (APL). This will give people a better understanding of their position on the labour market and their career prospects, and of any need they have for further training.
  • Periodical talent analysis. Talent analysis and APL procedures must be introduced on a large scale, with maximum use being made of the e-portfolio. The right to a periodical analysis of one’s competencies and the right to APL assessment must be included in collective labour agreements, with mandatory arrangements for a “best-effort” obligation on the part of employees to undertake training.
It will be very interesting to observe the implementation of this plan. This policy is the first national statement that I have seen that recommends e-portfolios outside of formal education institutions, and is part of the territorial approach to ePortfolios promoted by EIfEL.

I have also been contacted by Athabasca University which is Canada's biggest (almost only) open and distance university, where they do PLAR (Prior Learning Assessment and Accreditation) across all programs there. Their portfolios are still primarily paper-based, although they have a virtual version of a paper-based portfolio posted on their website. Their portfolio manual (PDF) provides comprehensive guidance on building one of these PLAR portfolios.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Midnight Skype Conference

I just finished a Skype conversation with a group of people at EduCamp Berlin (it was morning for them, after midnight for me, but I am a night owl!). The photo above captured the setting of the video-skype-session. The local facilitator is behind the camera, I am on the big screen and to the bottom left the Berlin audience. We used Skype (audio/video), but I set up my slides in GoogleDocs presentation, shared the link with the remote site, took control of the slideshow, and gave a short talk. We followed the presentation with some questions from the audience. They kept the camera pointed toward the audience, so I could see them as we talked. Maybe next time we might use Yugma (screen sharing), but I thought this worked pretty well, and it was free!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Embedding GoogleDocs Presentations

While exploring some blogs and online presentations, I discovered a new feature of GoogleDocs Presentation: the ability to embed a smaller version of any GoogleDocs presentation into any web page, including this blog. Below is the GoogleDoc Presentation that I created on using this tool for creating an ePortfolio.

I did not notice this feature when I was creating these documents last fall. Here is my portfolio, originally created in PowerPoint and converted to GoogleDocs in September 2007.

Now, if I could embed audio in each slide, as I can do with LecShare Pro, that would be really cool! I realize that there are other Web 2.0 tools that facilitate this "narrated slide show" such as SlideShare's "SlideCast" tools.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

GoogleApps for Education

I just left a workshop in an elementary school in a small town in New Hampshire, where a few teachers were learning to use GoogleApps for Education. They established their own domain name for their school, and learned how to manage the site so that it restricts viewing by only those who have an account in their domain. They found that they were able to restrict the "gadgets" that were available for students to add to their Start pages. We recognize that there are growing numbers of universities adopting this tool; I hope that Google recognizes the special needs of K-12 schools who adopt this toolset, with students who are under age 18.

In this after-school workshop, we covered using GoogleDocs on the first afternoon, then we covered Google Sites on the second day. They taught me a lot about how to modify their sites. (I love working with creative teachers; I learn so much from them!) I introduced how to use the Announcements page type in Google Sites for students to create reflective journals (simple blogs). I've already modified my "how-to" page based on my work with them, and set up another site to demonstrate the various examples with all of the "how-to" instructions.

I am now convinced that in GoogleApps (Sites, Docs, etc.) I have found the best free Web 2.0 tool for maintaining an online personal learning environment that can be used for formative assessment in education. Here are the descriptions of the workshops that I am doing in New Hampshire this fall:
Using GoogleDocs to Create Interactive Student ePortfolios –- 1 day in Keene, NH on Thursday, November 20
This workshop will show participants how to use GoogleDocs, available for free on the Internet, to facilitate classroom-based assessment in electronic portfolios. A special emphasis of this workshop will be to focus on creating ePortfolios that meet the requirements of the New Hampshire Educational Technology Plan.

Using Google Apps Education Edition to Create/Manage Interactive Student ePortfolios –- 2 days in Manchester, NH on Tuesday-Wednesday, November 18-19
This workshop will show participants how to use GoogleApps, available for free on the Internet, to facilitate classroom-based assessment in electronic portfolios. These tools include GoogleDocs, Gmail, GoogleTalk, Google Calendar and Google Sites (Google’'s version of a wiki). A special emphasis of this workshop will be to focus on creating ePortfolios that meet the requirements of the New Hampshire Educational Technology Plan.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Another ePortfolio article

Electronic Portfolios: Engaged Students Create Multimedia-Rich Artifacts by Gail Ring, Barbara Weaver, and James H. (Jim) Jones, Jr., all of Clemson University. This article was published in The Journal of the Research Center for Educational Technology at Kent State University. From the summary of the article:
This paper briefly summarizes the implementation of a university-wide electronic portfolio requirement. We begin with a systemic view of the ePortfolio Program and narrow our focus to a view of ePortfolio integration into two different classes. The rationale behind the Clemson University ePortfolio Program is to build a mechanism through which core competencies are demonstrated and evaluated. The target classes are a general education English class focusing on 20th and 21st century literature and a professional development seminar in computer science. Both classes allow students to select their topics and present their work to the class using a variety of media types, and both include a form of peer evaluation. These classes confirm that when students’ choice is built into the assignments we are pleasantly surprised by the outcomes. In addition, an extensive variety of artifacts are generated from each course that can be used to demonstrate the general education competencies, provide authentic evidence of learning, and generate a career portfolio. In our examples, we will describe the planning, implementation, and dissemination processes necessary to integrate the ePortfolio Program into university courses.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A new tool/toy

I am writing this entry from my new "Netbook"--HP2133 (1 GB RAM, 120 GB HD, Windows Vista with Windows XP "downgrade"). I was grateful that when it installed the software, it automatically installed XP. It has no built-in DVD/CD. I suppose I could add one later through one of the two USB 2.0 ports. It is so small, that I could see taking it on all my trips. I'm still not sure about making presentations with this computer, since a lot of my presentations include video that is stored on my Mac laptop, and I NEVER have any problems hooking up my Mac to any projector. My goal over the next few months is to experiment with many of these netbooks to see how they can be used for e-portfolios in schools using Web 2.0 tools.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Google Sites

Google Sites (the former JotSpot wiki bought by Google in 2006) was released in February 2008 and is replacing Google Page Creator. I recently tried to log into Google Page Creator and got the following message:
We are no longer accepting new sign-ups for Page Creator because we have shifted our focus to developing Google Sites, which offers many of the capabilities of Page Creator along with new features like site-level navigation, site-level headers, control over who can see and edit your site, and rich embeddings like calendars, videos, and Google docs.
With that situation, I decided to work on a Google Sites version of my online portfolio. My detailed reflection on this tool is part of my Reflections on creating this 35th online version of my online portfolio. I am finishing up another "How-To" page on "Creating an Interactive Presentation Portfolio with Google Sites."

The bottom line: this tool has the potential to be one of the best free Web 2.0 tools to construct a presentation portfolio. I really like the way that it integrates (and can embed) all types of GoogleDocs and video stored in either YouTube or Google Video. With RSS feeds and a very simple interface, I think it will have a very low learning curve for the average user who is familiar with other Google Tools. It is much easier to use than Google Pages. Each site includes a Site Map and the author can decide which pages to include in the Navigation bar through the page settings.

I have a lot of questions about file attachments and the File Cabinet page type, but since the tool is still in Beta, I'm sure there is a lot more development ahead. This tool is a winner, especially when used within the GoogleApps Education Edition, where collaboration can be restricted to members within the same domain. I will be learning a lot more about this tool this fall as I help teachers in a few New Hampshire communities to implement GoogleApps Education Edition for student portfolios under the NH Educational Technology Plan.

ePortfolios in New Zealand

I just received this email, which was wonderful feedback from the ePortfolio Conference in Wellington, New Zealand, in March 2007.
Perhaps you will recall your short time in New Zealand last year at the conference in Wellington and then your visit to Bucklands Beach Intermediate School in Auckland.

Well I thought I would make contact with you and share some of the developments we have in place since our first meeting.

You may recall I was very interested to look at e-portfolio developments as I have had a long involvement and interest in the ‘paper’ type portfolios. You will recall the ‘learning to Learn’ model I had put together.

Since we met last April, I think it was, I had a sabbatical from my work here and spent a little time in the UK trying to get my head around the ePortfolio ideas and to see how we could best move forward. I was somewhat disappointed with what I found I must confess. Maybe I was not looking in the right areas. I saw a number of good systems but I did not see them often being used to enhance learning. What the students were producing seems to be a waste of good learning time. What I did see also was more at the University level, in what I would refer to as the CV type Portfolio, and not so much at the primary or middle school level. The structures seemed very limiting.

So we have pushed on and developed our own way of doing things as is usual. I wanted an ePortfolio that was going to support learning and to provide evidence of that learning. I wanted it to be able to show the process as well as the product. I wanted it to allow for the ‘Voice’ to come through.. (See I did listen and was strongly influenced by your session in Wellington!) This was a key part of our developments.

The idea of the digital story was in a way the catalyst that enabled me to see how these techniques could be used to allow student voice to come through with respect to the student’s learning. I wanted to be able to hear their thoughts and reflections. This simple digital story technique is now being used extensively here for goal setting and reflection and for telling the ‘learning journey.’

We still have a long way to go. I am excited about what we have achieved in a little over one year. We started with a smallish ‘seeding group’ of students after you visited last year and now we are looking to imbed the ideas school wide. It will take another year before that process is completed I believe.

I thought seeing as you were the one who enabled me to see the real difference between paper portfolios and the way an ePortfolio could be used to allow the ‘voice’ to come through I would share a couple of examples with you.

Our portfolios are contained within a learning management system we are currently using called knowledgenet. I am not so happy with it but at present it serves our purpose. This is a commercial package used by quite a number of schools in NZ. I would like to move away from this in the future and am looking at ‘free’ sites that give the flexibility we now have with knowledgenet. Many of the free sites we have found seem to be very restrictive. By using Knowledgenet (KN) we know that the students are ‘safe’ in that their work, all their personal details, are in a passworded environment. Parents like this. I am sure this will change in the future as we all become more comfortable with the net. What we also do however is to use many other sites, blogs, wikis, podcasts, weeblies, teacher tube etc to give us free hosting for work with a simple link out of KN. We run a different set of protocols here which the students work to where there should be no particular identifying details. There are many strengths in this apart from the free hosting. With the addition of a ClustR map the students get feedback from around the world which is tremendously empowering. Some have had a great number of ‘hits’ on their work. They come to school in the morning excited to see if they have have new people looking at the work on the web. So we are keen to keep things out in the open to the extent our community feels comfortable with. (As I heard recently no one teaches children how not to cross the road safely! An important part of schooling now is net safety. This enables us to teach this in an authentic situation)

So I have set up a password for you so you can access a couple of our student’s ePortfolios. These are 13 year old students who have been working with us on their ePortfolios for a little over a year. You can see archived material there from last year as well as this year’s developments. You will see we are using a number of free web tools to help like glogster and voice thread etc. Where we are now is looking to develop our structure a little more and to ensure it is in place to support the learning.

You will note the section on key competencies. These are part of our new curriculum. I have been looking to find a simple way to show the students are capable in these areas. The template we have set up is designed to clearly provide evidence, that the student is competent in the particular competency. So a simple link to the evidence is what we are looking to do along with the reflection. This avoids the necessity for teachers ot be having to write lengthy evaluative comments. The students can simply provide the evidence themselves.

So if you have time have a trawl through a number of the areas you will see what we have been working on. We have goal setting, reflections, parent voice comments, and plenty of examples of process through to product. You can track the learning journey in many instances. I could suggest you look at a couple of the science fair blogs – particularly Cheyennes where she has video evaluation and reflection in the work. There is also Cheyennes literacy work on the diary of Anne Frank. (Archived from last year) This had hundreds of ‘hits’ Also she heard, via the school, from the Anne Frank Society who had found this work and were so impressed they sent a bundle of books to the school. Again very empowering.

As you can see I am pretty excited about what we have achieved in the 12 months since your visit and our start. I am off to Sweden in a week to talk about a number of things to do with vision and learning as I have done many times before and will be including some of this work on ePorfolios in my presentations.

Thanks for your initial inspiration. As I said I wanted to share some of the enthusiasm with you. You can read my paper, ‘ePortfolios, a Personal Space for Learning’ on You will see your influence there strongly!

You may also be interested to know that next week we are holding a student conference. This is a conference run by students for students. The conference title is - ‘i-learn, e-learn, we-learn@bbi student voice conference.’ We have two keynote sessions being run by students and then 16 different workshop sessions also run by students. The students will be able to attend two different workshops. This is designed to allow ‘student voice’ with respect to their learning to be shared and to show some of the exciting developments to others in the wider schooling community. The conference is something I have wanted to do for some years so we have decided to get into it this year as I will be ‘retiring’ from my position here at the end of the school year. Jess and Cheyenne whose portfolios you have the link to will be presenting one of the keynote sessions on ‘Student Voice through ePortfolios.’ So that should be exciting also – well I hope it will be!


Ian Fox QSM, Principal
Bucklands Beach Intermediate School
247 Bucklands Beach Road
Bucklands Beach, Auckland, New Zealand
It is messages like this that make my work so rewarding! I responded with how very gratifying it was to receive this type of feedback, asked for his permission to publish the message above, and expressed my interest in being able to see videos of some of the student presentations. I also shared some of my work with GoogleApps Education Edition. His response:
A quick response as we are working through listening to the students who are preparing for next week’s conference. I will try to get some of it taped so we can get a copy to you somehow. It is all very exciting and the students are so motivated. We have special badges made for the delegates and ‘T’ shirts and caps for the presenters. There is a morning tea scheduled and we will be having student buskers in the playground. So hopefully it will all be a load of fun even though there will be an important message we are wanting to get across...

We would be interested to keep in touch re your developments with Google. We will keep exploring options here also as I am determined to keep moving forward in a direction that supports learning, that provides evidence of learning, that allows for process as well as product, that allows for student voice, that allows for flexibility and creativity on the part of the learner.
I couldn't have said it better, myself!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Breaking the silence

I took the month of August off. No traveling (except a brief RV trip to Mt. Rainier... all the gas I could afford). I was glued to the Olympic Games... then the political conventions. I also spent a lot of time playing with my new iPhone. This is not a political blog, but I've been following a lot of them in the last few weeks. Fascinating reading. I love/hate reading some of the comments added to the posts. Web 2.0 is changing a lot of our public and private discourse.

I'm working on a book proposal focusing on Web 2.0 across the lifespan, and preparing for some new training projects. My fall travel begins September 16, with the Web 2.0 Expo in New York City, a presentation on Digital Storytelling at Columbia University, some GoogleApps training at a school in New Hampshire, and ending with an ePortfolio event at Boston University on Friday, September 26.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Showcase vs. Workspace

I am attending a workshop on "Using Worldware for Student Success in the Classroom and Beyond" conducted by Gary Brown from Washington State University, being held at the Campus Technology Conference in Boston. I had an opportunity to see a much larger picture of the WSU work that I have been observing from afar. I am impressed by their characterization of ePortfolios as "workspace" vs. "showcase" of student work. This is a glimpse of their concept of the ePortfolio as Personal Learning Environment.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Navigating with my new iPhone

I just spent last week in Orlando with a rental car and my daughter riding along, navigating with Maps on my new iPhone. It was so cool! She searched for the nearest cash machine, found a restaurant across town, and an outlet mall for our retail therapy/bonding sessions, and found the nearest movie theater and show times so that we could see Mamma Mia (saw it on stage in Budapest and loved it just as much). I spent a lot of my free time exploring the iTunes Apps store.

I am writing this post on my iPhone at 30,000+ feet while traveling to Indianapolis for the NCTE Institute (more in a later entry). I just wish I could get used to typing with my thumbs. At least my fingernails are not getting in my way! I know it will take more practice.

I figured out how to update my Facebook status; I've also figured out how the different mail servers work (deleting a message in GMail and MobileMe puts it in the trash on those servers but does nothing on the Comcast server... I'm not sure which approach I prefer). Also, reading a message in GMail on my iPhone means it will not get downloaded to my laptop, but reading a Comcast mail message has no effect (I can still download them to my desktop). I know what one I prefer there. I'm still using my desktop computer to maintain a record of all of my email messages. I know I am going to need to change that habit!

Taking pictures with the camera and sending by email has been fun. I still need to figure out if I can attach then to a web page (like this blog or Picasa). Lots more to learn, but the implications for using this type of tool (more likely the iTouch) for documenting the learning process has a lot of potential. I am planning to work with at least one school in NH on these types of 1-to-1 and Web 2.0 tools in the next school year.

Created on my iPhone... but edited on my computer. Making corrections in a message after it has been saved in the outbox (but before it has been sent) is impossible (or not obvious) which makes editing this post a problem... But I sent it to myself instead of directly to my blog. That's my next thing to learn.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

From my new iPhone

I started this message with one of the applications on my brand new iPhone, but was not able to write in this area, so I am finishing this entry the normal way! I stopped at the AT&T store near my home on Saturday afternoon, and they had just received another shipment of iPhones, so I got a black 16 GB model! I used the maps right away to navigate to another store; I just wish it had voice commands like my old Palm/TomTom GPS unit. I also found some new software, including Travel Tracker, one of my favorites on the Palm, only it doesn't update my calendar with flights, etc. I got a very quick response from the company that Apple has not opened the Calendar database up to 3rd parties as of yet.

I managed to get my MobileMe set up and am synching with only a few problems. I left ten years of my calendar on my Palm Desktop, and I can't figure out how to publish my iCal, but otherwise, the transition from my Palm SmartPhone has been pretty seamless. I will spend the next two weeks on vacation exploring Orlando with my new GPS, and playing with the faster G3 connectivity. I will also explore some of the many different iPhone applications that are available through the iTunes store. One of my complaints: you have to buy a software package before you try it out (to see if it works the way you like). I just wasted some money on a game; with most Palm software there was usually a trial period before payment was required. I am slowly getting used to entering text with my fingers, but I am still much more facile with a regular keyboard. So far, I've been able to open GoogleDocs through my iPhone, but haven't figured out if I can edit these files. On my Mac, I can't use Safari to edit in many of the Google tools, so the iPhone version of Safari probably has the same limitations. It also does not support Flash or Java, the underlying technology of many Web 2.0 applications. Exploring and comparing will be very interesting!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Google Interactive Tutorials

I just found a series of Flash-based interactive online tutorials which explains concepts within all of the current GoogleApps (note the tutorials available from the links on the left navigation bar):
I want to know how they created these tutorials and if this service will soon be available to site administrators or instructional developers!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

NECC 2008 retrospective

I am now home from the latest National Educational Computing Conference (in San Antonio) and am thinking about some of the highlights for me. I created several blog entries while I was there, so now I am reflecting on my overall experience at that conference. There seemed to be a "conference within the conference" which began with the EduBloggercom event on Saturday, June 28. I had attended in the afternoon in 2007 in Atlanta (after my own morning workshop) which I found to be beneficial. This year, the group voted on the sessions that they wanted to hold, using cell phone texting (but I missed that part of the event), and then used the conference wiki to schedule the events and locations during the day. Some of the discussions were very interesting and worthwhile. I continued to run into many of the participants in the Blogger Cafe throughout the rest of the conference. That was an open space with chairs and tables and electrical power! There were some organized discussions, but more impromptu dialogue.

The conference also set up a Ning group, which I joined, and others invited me to be their friend. However, other than establishing these friend lists, I never saw any direct benefit for joining while I was at the conference. It was fun to see some old friends on the website, but I never saw any of them in person. I realize that I needed to be more pro-active to get something out of that type of social network. I attended my usual conference events and wandered around the vendor floor. I'm just wondering if this use of a Ning group in such a huge conference was just a playground for the attendees who subscribed to get some experience with a social network, or if others got more out of their participation.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

ISTE's Debate on Portfolios replacing Standardized Tests

Are Digital Portfolios a Realistic Alternative to Standardized Testing? ISTE’s magazine, Learning & Leading with Technology, wants your opinion. If you would like to share your thoughts on this topic, reply to Paul Wurster ( with a 25–50 word response by July 15. They are going to select 6–8 of the best comments they receive (attributing them with name, affiliation, city, and state) and publish them in the September/October issue of L&L. Not sure? Read the opinion of two other education professionals in the June/July edition of Point/Counterpoint in L&L on the Web.

The second paper referenced in my previous blog entry contained a reference to a January 2006 article by Kathleen Blake Yancey in Campus Technology: "An Exercise in Absence... Notes on the Past and Future of Digital Portfolios and Student Learning." She makes excellent points about student learning and engagement, the importance of reflection, and some cautions about portfolios:
In Portfolios in the Writing Classroom, Catherine Lucas identified three that are as relevant for digital portfolios as for print. First, she notes that portfolios can be "weakened by effect," asking "Can . . . [a] spirit of exploration remain central to the use of portfolios as they become more commonplace?" Second is the "failure of research": "The danger here is that those who cling to the illusion that only what can be measured or counted is worth doing will find the effects of portfolios . . . not only resistant to measurement but initially resistant even to definition." Given the scale that digital technology makes possible, her last caution, co-option by large-scale assessment, is perhaps the most prescient. She notes that if we are not careful, portfolios will become merely a new vehicle used to perform the old task, with the result that portfolios will become standardized-with common assignments and restrictive learning conditions. Should this happen, Lucas says, portfolios "will be just as likely as other standardized tests to limit learning by restricting curriculum to what is most easily and economically measured."
I am concerned that the positivists, those advocating the use of portfolios to replace standardized testing, are having a major impact on mandatory portfolio implementation in some states. It reminds me of Lee Shulman's [in Lyons (1998) With Portfolios in Hand] five dangers of portfolios, and specifically "perversion"
"If portfolios are going to be used, whether at the state level in Vermont or California, or at the national level by the National Board, as a form of high stakes assessment, why will portfolios be more resistant to perversion than all other forms of assessment have been? And if one of the requirements in these cases is that you develop a sufficiently objective scoring system so you can fairly compare people with one another, will your scoring system end up objectifying what's in the portfolio to the point where the portfolio will be nothing but a very, very cumbersome multiple choice test?" (p. 35)
These articles (and the Shulman chapter) provide a more student-centered view of portfolios in education. At NECC by contrast, I talked with at least one technology vendor selling the "e-portfolio as standardized-test-replacement" and two classroom teachers who focused on a more student-centered approach to electronic portfolios (see my last NECC blog entry). I actually think we need both. Portfolios best support learning and formative assessment; standardized tests are best for institutional accountability. One can inform the other, but not replace it. When I write my 25-50 word response, I'll post it here in my blog.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Papers about ePortfolios in Higher Ed

I just learned about a couple of new papers that have recently been published about ePortfolios in higher education. The first one was published in the Journal of Computing in Higher Education Spring 2008, Vol. 19(2), 47-90: "Development of the Electronic Portfolio Student Perspective Instrument: An ePortfolio Integration Initiative" with authors Albert Dieter Ritzhaupt, Oma Singh, Thelma Seyferth (Department of Secondary Education) and Robert F. Dedrick (Department of Educational Measurement and Research), University of South Florida. Here is the executive summary:
WITH THE PROLIFERATION OF EPORTFOLIOS and their organizational uses in higher education, it is important for educators and other relevant stakeholders to understand the student perspective. The way students view and use ePortfolios are revealing elements to aid educators in the successful integration of ePortfolio systems. This research describes the development of the Electronic Portfolio Student Perspective Instrument (EPSPI) and initial validation (N = 204) efforts in the context of an ePortfolio initiative in a College of Education. The EPSPI incorporates four domains from a student perspective: employment, visibility, assessment, and learning; and connects those domains with four relevant stakeholders: students, administrators, faculty, and employers. Descriptive analyses, exploratory factor analysis, and a qualitative analysis using grounded theory were used. Results indicate that student perspectives towards ePortfolios are with three distinct, internally consistent underlying constructs: learning, assessment, and visibility. Qualitative analysis revealed four interrelated themes from a student perspective: system characteristics, support structure, purpose, and personal impact.
Another article was fully published online in The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, Vol 9, No 2 (2008), ISSN: 1492-3831: " Eportfolios: From description to analysis" with authors Gabriella Minnes Brandes and Natasha Boskic, The University of British Columbia, Canada. Here is the abstract from that article:
In recent years, different professional and academic settings have been increasingly utilizing ePortfolios to serve multiple purposes from recruitment to evaluation. This paper analyzes ePortfolios created by graduate students at a Canadian university. Demonstrated is how students’ constructions can, and should, be more than a simple compilation of artifacts. Examined is an online learning environment whereby we shared knowledge, supported one another in knowledge construction, developed collective expertise, and engaged in progressive discourse. In our analysis of the portfolios, we focused on reflection and deepening understanding of learning. We discussed students’ use of metaphors and hypertexts as means of making cognitive connections. We found that when students understood technological tools and how to use them to substantiate their thinking processes and to engage the readers/ viewers, their ePortfolios were richer and more complex in their illustrations of learning. With more experience and further analysis of exemplars of existing portfolios, students became more nuanced in their organization of their ePortfolios, reflecting the messages they conveyed. Metaphors and hypertexts became useful vehicles to move away from linearity and chronology to new organizational modes that better illustrated students’ cognitive processes. In such a community of inquiry, developed within an online learning space, the instructor and peers had an important role in enhancing reflection through scaffolding. We conclude the paper with a call to explore the interactions between viewer/reader and the materials presented in portfolios as part of learning occasions.

NECC 2008 update

I am sitting in the Blogger's Cafe in the San Antonio convention center. Yesterday, I did my short presentation on the final results of the REFLECT Initiative. I spent the rest of the afternoon wandering through the vendor exhibits. Today, I am enjoying the morning just doing networking, taking with people who are dropping by, and decompressing after four very full days. It is time to go home and get settled into my new condo!

I just had a wonderful conversation with a high school English teacher, who used my website for resources on working with her 11th grade students on electronic portfolios (she showed me some examples). She started her students with a blog, but many of them went far beyond the blog and created their own presentation portfolios using one of the Web 2.0 tools. She herself had to use one of the commercial e-portfolio/assessment management systems in her graduate program, and she said, "It took all the thinking out of it. They gave me the standards and told me which artifacts to put into each one! It wasn't as effective as what my students did!" I am hoping she will share her story with my new Google Group: web2eportfolios. I invite others to join the group (please give me your reason for wanting to join as you fill out the form).

I had another delightful conversation with a tech coordinator from a small Texas school district, who talked to me about his proposal for hosting ePortfolios for his 1400 student school district using WordPressMU. We talked about this strategy, and how they could implement the blogs and pages that the tool supports. Their district has already established a GoogleApps account for branded GMail in their district as well as all of the other Google tools. They are also setting up servers to host podcasts and video sharing. I am hoping he can also tell their story through my new Google Group.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Google at NECC 2008

I am at the 2008 National Educational Computing Conference (NECC) and attended a session conducted by two Google employees. In the Q&A after the session, I had the opportunity to ask the following question: "When am I going to be able to use my GMail space to store plain old documents?" The two of them whispered something to each other and then said something about having a policy not to talk about when unannounced products would be available. But then they said something like "Soon!" Hmmm...

On Sunday, I did a day-long workshop on Web 2.0 Tools for Classroom-Based Assessment and Interactive Student ePortfolios. We started with a blog and them moved to Google tools (GoogleDocs Documents for creating artifacts, GoogleDocs Spreadsheet for creating a table to keep track of artifacts, GoogleDocs Presentation to create a linear presentation portfolio, and Google Pages to create a hyperlinked portfolio (without the interactivity of the GoogleDocs tools). One of the participants, who had been playing with the Zoho tools, and especially the Zoho Notebook, tried the Google Sites tools (released in February) and found it to meet his needs better than the other tool. I will need to try the Sites tool when I get home.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

New article from ECAR

The Educause Center for Applied Research just published a new Research Bulletin: Web 2.0, Personal Learning Environments, and the Future of Learning Management Systems.
This ECAR research bulletin details the arguments emerging in the blogosphere and elsewhere both for and against the learning management system. It examines whether the LMS is destined to continue as the primary means of organizing the online learning experience for university students. The bulletin is a companion to an earlier ECAR research bulletin that examines the factors leading to the selection of the open source learning management system at the Open University in the United Kingdom.
The article was written by Niall Sclater, Director of the Virtual Learning Environment Programme at the Open University in the U.K. A small part of the article discussed the role of two different ePortfolio systems being used in the OU: Mahara (developed in New Zealand) and MyStuff (developed in-house by the Open University).

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A bilingual storytelling workshop

Yesterday, I finished a digital storytelling workshop with a group of high school teachers in Monterrey, Mexico. It was a wonderful experience. Many of them created their stories in English although for most of them, it was their second language. I am convinced that the value is in the digital storytelling process, regardless of the tools we used (MovieMaker2 and Audacity). Now I am doing a Web 2.0 ePortfolio workshop for the next 2 1/2 days. This is my third trip to Mexico in the last six months. I'm started to learn Spanish, but it is tough at my age! I'm so glad that I am mostly working with English teachers!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Web 2.0 & commercial ePortfolios

On June 1, Campus Computing published another article on ePortfolios and Web 2.0, entitled "Unleashing the Power of Web 2.0," which highlighted some of the work of Washington State University and their use of SharePoint. It also discussed the continuum of ePortfolios as Personal Learning Environments (PLE--on the learner-centered end), and ePortfolios as Assessment Management Systems (AMS--on the institution-centered end). The article discussed the Evolution of Web 2.0 and the ePortfolio, and reported on discussions with three ePortfolio vendors (Digication, Angel Learning, and Desire2Learn) and the adaptations that they are making to their commercial systems in response to the Web 2.0 technologies. One of the ironies of this discussion is that free Web 2.0 technologies could be a threat to some of the commercial tools, since students could replicate ePortfolio/PLE functions of many of the commercial tools using these Web 2.0 tools. Accumulating institutional accountability data (AMS) is the real value added of many of the other commercial tools not mentioned in the article. The real value of Web 2.0 tools is for the students to create an ePortfolio that they can own and modify across the lifespan, gaining valuable lifelong learning skills that they can use once they leave higher education. That is the value of the WSU model using SharePoint, and other places using other types of social software for ePortfolios (blogs, wikis, Google tools, etc.)

The author of this Campus Technology article also published an earlier article, "ePortfolios Meet Social Software" which discusses some of the "stickiness" issues with ePortfolios, and the interest in the "own-it-for-life model" of implementation.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Microsoft-Holland America partnership

My dream job has shown up! Too bad I'm too busy to apply! According to PRWire, "Holland America Line and Microsoft Introduce Onboard Digital Workshops.... Guests learn digital photography and video editing, blogging, and Web skills while cruising." It reminds me of the cruises that I took to Europe in 2006 and through the Panama Canal in 2007. I kept a blog during both cruises. In 2006, I had the time to learn Apple's iWeb; in 2007, I kept a simple Blogger blog. The 2006 blog was much more visual, but the 2007 blog was much easier to produce and took a lot less online time to upload (Internet time on cruise ships is pretty expensive). I would love to see how they are implementing the program. Maybe another Holland America cruise should be on my horizon!

Learning about ePortfolios

Last week, I added a new page to my website: Learning about Electronic Portfolios. I converted the "open source" MOSEP course, created by the Salzburg Research Forschungsgesellschaft under a European Commission grant, into HTML format (I found their wiki hard to navigate, and impossible to link to specific pages within the course). After I finished, I discovered the PDF version of their course materials online, but it is still impossible to link to specific lessons in the course! I also posted the course that I have been constructing about Web 2.0 Tools for Lifelong & Life Wide Learning. The course includes "Portfolio Pointers" on how to use the different Web 2.0 tools to construct an online portfolio "mashup".

Multimedia Biographies as externalized memory prosthetic

My colleague Don Presant from Winnipeg, Manitoba, sent me a link to a podcast from the CBC: multimedia biographies for the memory challenged or ePortfolio as "externalized memory" prosthetic, a research project being undertaken at the University of Toronto. ( -- starting at 19 minutes into the podcast)

By coincidence at the same time, Serge Ravet, my colleague with Eifel, was attending a conference in Aix-en-Provence in France on the theme "plus longue la vie" (longer the life) which is about linking innovative technologies with a longer (and possibly, better) life.

Don also provided me with further information: it's part of a wide series of research initiatives that go beyond prosthesis to "rehabilitative or restorative devices to enhance cognition, and even as preventative or treatment devices able to slow the rate at which cognitive impairments develop."
"A second research project, in collaboration with Dr. Elsa Marziali, Schippers Chair of Social Work at Baycrest, is producing multimedia biographies for pilot cohorts of persons with early-stage or mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease. We collaborate with the AD individual, the caregiver, and other family members in collecting a life history through media such as music, photos, interviews, and narrated videos (Cohene et al. 2004, 2006). Early findings suggest that the biographies serve to reinforce a positive self-identity and bring joy and some calming to the AD individual. The biographies also provide benefits to family members such as better remembering how their loved one once was and being better able to accept the disease. A grant from the U.S. Alzheimer’s Association (2004-7) is funding the development and evaluation of 10-12 multimedia biographies. We are including several individuals with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) as part of this study."
As I begin to explore the lifelong and life-wide applications of this technology, these two research projects provide very interesting examples of how digital stories, produced with families for the benefit of their elderly relatives, has the potential for making these last years of life more bearable, especially for the surviving family members. You might call it the digital equivalent of the movie, "The Notebook"!

Friday, June 06, 2008

Sharepoint Example from WSU

I received a comment on a previous blog entry that I would like to highlight here, with a graduate student's portfolio created with WSU's SharePoint service.
I attend WSU and am a grad student. I use Sharepoint to host my ePortfolio and I think it covers all the needed functions. It is dynamic and very useful.
Here is a link to my ePortfolio if you'd like to see an example:

Also, I've created some instructional material for creating ePortfolios in MS Sharepoint. Feel free to check them out and share with anyone who could use them!

Hope to hear from you,
Matt Kushin
Thanks, Matt!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Workshop in Durango, Mexico

I am really excited. I am currently doing a workshop with English language teachers in Durango, and we are using a variety of Web 2.0 tools to facilitate the process over three full days; our agenda and the hands-on activities.

Yesterday, we began the workshop with Blogger and also Google Groups so that we could carry on a dialogue after the workshop is over (we will continue the dialogue online through December). I also showed them RSS feeds this morning (using GoogleReader), so that they can keep track of changes in blogs and other documents that have RSS feeds, like GoogleDocs, which we also covered this morning. Tonight we started to adapt the European Language Portfolio Word documents into GoogleDocs. We also looked at pulling together a presentation portfolio with the GoogleDocs Presentation tool, and then embedding the presentation into our blogs. Most of them were able to create a quick presentation, publish it, copy the code and embed it into their blogs (much as I did earlier in this blog).

Tomorrow morning, I will introduce them to online storage, where they will store audio clips and video clips of students' English speaking skills. We will learn how to store those files online in a free file storage website, and how to embed those links both into a blog and into a GoogleDoc or a Google Page document. I will be introducing them to Google Pages later, so that they can see a web page authoring tool.

This was a very ambitious schedule for these three days. The workshop day was different. We worked 9 AM to 1 PM, took the afternoon off, and came back for a 6-8 PM shift. It was nice to take off the hot part of the day, eating my heavy meal in the afternoon, but it still makes a long day! I am really impressed with the participants in this workshop. They are participating in a fast-paced workshop, learning a lot of new technology skills in their second language, staying past the end of the workshop to keep exploring new things. This is my second workshop in Mexico, and I am very impressed! I'm also able to practice my Spanish, reinforcing the class I have been taking this spring.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Friday Live featuring WSU

During yesterday's Friday Live sponsored by the TLT group, the presentation focused on the work of Washington State University and their work on ePortfolios (official title: Using Outside Experts to Assess Program Outcomes Online; Experiences at Washington State University). Their presentation, and the discussion in the chat, focused on the power of an e-portfolio to document the process of learning, something that I have been emphasizing in many entries recently in this blog.

WSU's ePortfolio contest brought in outside experts to judge student projects, which were documented in these ePortfolios, and there were several comments about the importance of documenting the process as much as the outcomes, normally shown in a poster. Here is another example where keeping a reflective journal is perhaps the most powerful part of the ePortfolio journey, revealing to the learners and their audiences, their construction of knowledge.

WSU uses Microsoft's SharePoint platform to support their students' ePortfolio development, based on a philosophy that they should be learning to use tools that they would use in their professional lives after they leave the university. They also believe that the students should structure their own electronic portfolios. I agree with both of those viewpoints.

The TLT Group has posted a web page on Electronic Portfolios: Formative Evaluation, Planning that provides some valuable insights on planning for planning to implement ePortfolios in a higher education institution.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Blogs and ePortfolios

After the recent ePortfolio conference in Montreal, where I met Stephen Downes, his blog entry discussed the following entries about using blogs in the ePortfolio process:
This ain’t yo mama’s e-portfolio, part 1
This ain’t yo mama’s e-portfolio, part 2
This ain’t yo mama’s e-portfolio, part 3

Alan Levine had discussed these issues in 2004, around the time I began this blog: Two Rivers Mix: RSS and e-Portfolios.

Penn State University switched over to the Movable Type blogging tool at the beginning of this year, and here are several weblinks that provide more information.
ePortfolios at Penn State

I have already blogged about the research on blogs at the University of Calgary. It is important to emphasize that blogging tools facilitate personal publishing and reflection, which make this type of tool an essential part of any comprehensive ePortfolio system.

Using GoogleDocs in the Classroom

In the link above, Google has put together a very nice guide to help teachers use GoogleDocs in the classroom. This multipage GoogleDoc document includes the following sections:
  • What is Google Docs?
  • Create an account for yourself and your students
  • Create and share your docs
  • Edit your docs
  • Organize your docs
Here is a video about Google Apps for Education that was recently added to YouTube by Google.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Follow up on WSU ePortfolio work

The comment on my blog entry earlier this week, made by Nils Peterson at Washington State University, encouraged me to revisit some other entries that have come to my attention over the last six months:

Monday, May 05, 2008

Harvesting Gradebook

I am at the ePortfolio conference in Montreal, and thought I would add an entry to my blog about an article that I am referencing entitled, "The Future of Web 2.0" which was published in Campus Technology on February 27, 2008. This was an interview with Gary Brown, Director of Washington State University's Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology. This quote is especially appropriate for using Web 2.0 tools within the context of assessment.
Right now at WSU, one of the things we're developing in collaboration with Microsoft is a "harvesting" gradebook. So as an instructor in an environment like this, my gradebook for you as a student has links to all the different things that are required of you in order for me to credit you for completing the work in my class. But you may have worked up one of the assignments in Flickr, another in Google Groups, another in Picasa, and another in a wiki. Maybe you've also made some significant contributions to Wikipedia. So, I need a gradebook where I have the link you've provided me, rather than a copy of the work, and the gradebook should be capable of pulling in all of these various sources.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

GoogleDocs updates

GoogleDocs, the quintessential Web 2.0 tool, is always being upgraded. The advantage of this type of software is that I didn't have to do anything (such as download software updates) to take advantage of the latest version. I discovered some new features today while organizing all of my logins and passwords in a GoogleDocs spreadsheet (which I am not publishing for obvious reasons). I discovered that when I put a URL into a cell in the spreadsheet, it automatically became a hyperlink. I went back and re-visited the spreadsheet that I had uploaded as part of my portfolio over a year ago (My Artifacts-at-a-Glance) and found that the links, which were not active when I first converted the document from Excel, are now all "clickable." They have also provided the capability to embed GoogleDocs presentations into web pages, so I have inserted below the GoogleDocs Presentation version of my portfolio, which was converted from PowerPoint and edited to add comments/reflections and hyperlinks to the artifacts listed in the spreadsheet mentioned above.

Monday, April 28, 2008

More Web 2.0 Conference Presentations

There is a wealth of insights about the future of Web 2.0 that can be found in some of the videos on the Web 2.0 conference site on Here are some of my favorites, in addition to the presentation by Tim O'Reilly that I embedded in my previous blog entry. This was a conference for the developers of Web 2.0 tools, so the presentations were targeted at a Web 2.0 developer audience, but I think there are a lot of ideas that are appropriate for a user audience, especially as they provide a view of the underlying philosophy of the technologies to come. Below are links to some of my favorite presentations, although many of the others are also interesting:
The other videos provide a glimpse of some of the Web 2.0 technologies under development from companies such as Microsoft, Yahoo, WordPress, and AOL. The interesting difference between and YouTube is the ability to download the Flash videos from in addition to being able to leave comments.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Web 2.0 Conference Presentation

I've spent the last few hours watching videos from the Web 2.0 conference that was held last week in San Francisco. I am most impressed with the presentation of Tim O'Reilly (who coined the Web 2.0 term). He discusses the core of Web 2.0 and some deep trends:
The first one is that the Internet really is becoming the platform, a global platform for everything, everything connected, and the nature of that platform is this amazing tool for harnessing collective intelligence. It's not just about participation. It's about literally we are building a platform to make the world smarter, to make businesses smarter, to make ourselves smarter. This is an amazing revolution in human augmentation. We're at a turning point akin to literacy, or the formation of cities. This is a huge change in the way the world works.
These ideas bring me to the potential that these tools have for learning, both on a global basis which O'Reilly is focusing on, but also on an individual level, and the impact of Web 2.0 as a learning platform, beyond the specific tools. This video provides a profound look at how this technology could literally change the world, helping us to tackle some of the most difficult problems that we face as a nation and as a planet.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

GoogleDocs updates

Lots of upgrades to GoogleDocs were announced yesterday! The tools are accessible offline using Google Gears, "an open source project that enables more powerful web applications, by adding new features to your web browser." Now all of my documents are also stored on my computer, so that I can work on them even when I am not connected to the Internet. Once connected, the files are synchronized. GoogleDocs is also available from mobile phones through a special interface. I just found a short video on YouTube that describes the offline access to GoogleDocs.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

More Online Storage services explored

While watching the day-long John Adams marathon on HBO (an incredible series!), I used the time to explore more of the online storage services that I started exploring last month (and that attracted many comments). Here are the services that I explored today:
  • ElephantDrive - 1 GB free space, Email: YES - URI: NO
  • DropBoks - 1 GB free space, Email: NO - URI: NO
  • - 5 GB free space, Email: YES - URI: YES (very nice interface, but free account expires with 30 days of non-use)
  • from AOL (more of a digital storytelling service, saving specific file types -- audio, video, images -- but not PDFs)
  • openomy - 1 GB free space, Email: NO - URI: YES
  • - 1 GB free space, Email: YES - URI: YES (one of my favorites, so far)
  • hp upline - unable to set up account
  • mozy home free - 2 GB free space, Email: NO - URI: NO (not a file sharing service, only a back-up/file syncronization service; requires client software download)
  • getdropbox - 2 GB free space, Email: YES - URI: YES (still in beta, not giving out passwords or downloading software, yet) - The video demo on their website looks impressive.
  • scribd - unlimited free space, Email: YES - URI: YES (this site calls itself the YouTube for Office/PDF files, but only stores these specific types of documents, not audio or video files)
  • idrive - 2 GB free space, Email: ? - URI: ? (Windows only client software download required)
  • - 5 GB free space, Email: YES - URI: YES (another of my favorites)
I think I have found a couple of sites that meet my requirements: I've used Microsoft's SkyDrive in the last couple of weeks to transfer files between platforms, but I am most impressed with the capabilities of and The mediamax service is in the middle of migrating to a new name,, and I received an email that told me they were not migrating files uploaded to its free accounts.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

LaGuardia Community College Conference

As the first U.S. ePortfolio conference, this meeting at LaGuardia Community College (April 10-12) had a special feeling about it. Drawing over 500 people from both LGCC and across the U.S. (and a few other countries), the conversation had a richness that was indicative of the maturity of ePortfolio practices. Holding the conference in the middle of a very active campus within a few subway stops from Times Square also created a very vibrant feeling, much different than the usual conference experience in hotels or convention centers. We were literally in the middle of the action! I loved how they involved so many students in conference t-shirts to help with the conference logistics.

In addition to the usual speakers (and an excellent keynote address by Kathleen Blake Yancey), there were also a lot of presenters sharing their practice at LGCC. The Center for Teaching and Learning at LGCC is establishing a National Resource Center on Inquiry, Reflection & Integrative Education to support innovation on campuses nationwide. I especially liked the focus on their students' unique stories, using the power of personal narrative in their ePortfolios.

I also took advantage of my trip to the East Coast, and attended the Rhode Island Sakai Conference, on April 9, where I learned more about the efforts in that state to establish a Proficiency Based Graduation Requirement (PBGR). I was most impressed by a small group of students who talked about their beginning efforts using Sakai. I especially liked their comments on what they would like to change (i.e., allow more personal expression in the OSP, like they can do in Facebook).

At the LaGuardia conference, I did see some student portfolios from the University of Michigan that looked very creative, using the Sakai tool. I have asked them to give me an account on their system, so that I could try to re-create my portfolio, since I have not been able to do so in the existing demonstration templates.

I am hoping that these conferences will begin a national dialogue on the role of ePortfolios in transforming learning, not only in higher education, but also in secondary schools. I met with a small group of educators that would like to begin a national research project, looking at the various statewide high school portfolio initiatives in Washington state, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Ohio. It is time to bring secondary schools into this dynamic conversation.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Digital Identity & ePortfolios

Eifel is sponsoring a conference in Montreal in May 2008 entitled, "ePortfolio & Digital Identity." Serge Ravet of Eifel has recently written a blog entry entitled, "The ePortfolio is dead? Long life to Digital Identity!" I think the way Serge conceptualized the ePortfolio is more like my concept of the Working Portfolio, or the Digital Archive for Life. Below are Serge Ravet's 2004 metaphors as listed on my Portfolio Metaphors page:
  • My digital clone - A digital representation / extension of my self – my eSelf
  • My work companion - A tool blended into my learning / working environment
  • My butler - A service provider to one’s self
  • My dashboard - An informative display of the state of my skills and knowledge
  • My planner - A tool to plan my learning
  • My IPR management assistant - A tool to value and exploit my personal assets
These metaphors go far beyond the concept of a portfolio as "a purposeful collection of work that demonstrates efforts, progress and achievement" over time. So, giving that list of services a new name is fine with me... but I don't think the ePortfolio itself is dead! Just the conceptual definition that Eifel held in 2004. I have always seen two elements of ePortfolio development:
  • Working Portfolio (Digital Identity?): the Collection, the Digital Archive, the Repository of Artifacts, Personal Information, a Reflective Journal (eDOL). This concept is really the ePortfolio as Process.
  • Presentation Portfolio(s): The “Story” or Narrative that is told by the portfolio developer with Multiple Views (public/private), Varied Audiences (with varied permissions), for Varied Purposes. This concept is really the ePortfolio as Product.
The research that I have conducted since 2004, where I have recreated my portfolio with now 34 different tools, services, or software (my Online Portfolio Adventure) really focused on the ePortfolio as Product or Presentation. All of my artifacts were stored on my web server or one of my online services, such as my .Mac account. My most recent study, looking at different online storage services, plus this blog (my own eDOL), represents the concept of the Working Portfolio, or ePortfolio as Process.

As more companies begin to offer online storage or lock boxes, such as Wells Fargo, Microsoft, Google (medical records right now), Amazon's S3, IBM, and a host of other online storage services, we need to find another term that incorporates all of these purposes. What would be the unifying concept of Eifel's former ePortfolio services, Wells Fargo's digital safe deposit box, Europass' universal CV or online personal health records? I'm not sure I like the word identity in the context of the Working Portfolio, because it will be further misunderstood (just as the term ePortfolio has been). The term identity is used in a variety of other contexts, such as identity theft (criminology), identity development (sociology and psychology), corporate identity (business), etc. Within the context of portfolios in education, perhaps a better term to use would be "digital archive" or "lifetime personal web space" or just plain online storage.

I do see the larger picture that Serge proposes:
If modern education consists in developing one's identity, then digital education must become one of the priorities of education, along with physical or moral education.... But the challenge to tackle from now on is not the simple use of ePortfolio any more, but digital identity education. We now all have a digital identity, even if we are not aware of it.
That is certainly a provocative statement, subject to further debate. I've never viewed the use of an ePortfolio as simple. Perhaps that is because the more I learn about ePortfolio development, the more I see its complexity. I agree that young learners need to be good "digital citizens" and be more aware of the consequences of their online activities. ISTE has made Digital Citizenship one of the new National Educational Technology Standards (NETS). I am excited to continue this debate in Montreal.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Web 2.0 Workshops

I will be conducting two workshops over the next two months on using free Web 2.0 tools for ePortfolios:
The resources for these workshops will be my examples of Web 2.0 portfolios, Google Tools, and my new Options for Online Storage.

Friday, April 04, 2008

eDOL: Electronic Documentation of Learning

In my AERA conference blog entry, I mentioned the research done at the University of Calgary and their concept of eDOL: Electronic Documentation of Learning, which is essentially a reflective journal that teacher candidates maintain. For more information, they have a short article in the campus newletter, and a longer article in Field Notes, the MT Program Newsletter Fall 2007 (entitled Learning to document Learning Online - an introduction to edoL on pages 8-9 in this PDF).
eDOL has evolved into two interrelated components – an eJournal and a series of ePortfolios... eJournals provide students with a rich, personalized learning object repository from which to draw content for the development of their ePortfolios.

It is the tie between the journals and the portfolios, which distinguishes our work, and we have been drawn to four key observations:
  • the journals, together with the portfolios, honor both the process and the product, providing evidence of what it means to become a teacher,
  • there is value in learning to digitally document evidence learning. Pedagogical documentation is more than collecting photographs from schools; it is the thoughtful collecting, editing, and selecting of images to support reflection,
  • our students have found value in eDOL as a unifying project to build coherence as they move through the various components of our program, and
  • eDOL has given the students a sense that they are finishing their university experience “with a place to start.”
The University of Calgary has added an important dimension to the ePortfolio literature, by emphasizing the importance of process (the eJournals or blogs) as much as the product (the ePortfolios).

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Portfolios in the Cloud

In my last two blog entries, I have focused on different online storage systems that could be used to store the artifacts for an electronic portfolio. As I researched further into this category of online services, I found the concept of "cloud" computing: a globe-spanning network of servers (the leader in cloud computing is Google, with Yahoo, Microsoft, IBM, and Amazon close behind). Another way to understand "computing in the cloud": dividing up work and distributing it out across the Internet. That is the model that I discussed more than a year ago as an ePortfolio Mash-up: different elements of my portfolio saved in different places in the Internet cloud.

In my reading, I found a new and interesting provider of personal digital document storage: Wells Fargo Bank! Their vSafe service will provide their customers online space to store and organize copies of important documents. "By protecting information in an electronically secure and centralized location, customers can easily access and recover copies of critical documents in the event of a natural disaster, theft or hard drive crash, or while traveling." I had not anticipated that online document storage would be provided by a financial institution, but security and privacy is a basic requirement of that industry. In the digital age, they could provide a digital safe deposit box for our important personal information. [I wonder if they would also allow hyperlinks to selected files? I have often compared financial portfolios (documenting the accumulation of fiscal capital) with portfolios in education (documenting the development of human capital).] But at $4.95 a month for 1 gigabyte, $9.95 a month for 3 gigabytes and $14.95 for 6 gigabytes of storage, it is fairly pricey for the increased security.

According to another article in Backup Review, another company in the Education market, School Web Lockers, is offering online storage of student and teacher work, accessible from home as well as school. "All School Web Lockers are backed up daily and preserved from year-to-year to allow students to easily create a portfolio of work." Again, I wonder if they allow hyperlinks to selected files from one of the many e-portfolio authoring tools.