Friday, January 25, 2008

Sticky ePortfolios

I just bought the book Made to Stick, which is subtitled,"Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die." The subtitle really made me think about ePortfolios. How can we have ePortfolios that both students and teachers want to use. I found Ali Jafari's Educause Review article, The “Sticky” ePortfolio System: Tackling Challenges and Identifying Attributes (2004) which raises some very good issues related to institutional implementation of ePortfolio systems. He compares ePortfolios with the implementation of course management systems (CMS), and identifies these factors for a Successful ePortfolio Project = I + J + K + L + M + N + O:
  • I = ease of use
  • J = sustainable business plan
  • K = advanced features
  • L = robust integrated technology architecture
  • M = lifelong support
  • N = standards and transportability, and
  • O = X (undetermined factors)
The Made to Stick book identifies six qualities of an idea that is made to stick (with the acronym SUCCESs):
  • Simplicity: "How do you strip an idea to its core..."
  • Unexpectedness: "How do you capture people's attention... and hold it?"
  • Concreteness: "How do you help people understand your idea and remember it much later?"
  • Credibility: "How do you get people to believe your idea?"
  • Emotional: "How do you get people to care about your idea?"
  • Stories: "How do you get people to act on your idea?"
I think these concepts work well when considering ePortfolios. To be successful with students and teachers, ePortfolios should be simple: the more complex, the less they will be used. They need to include concrete examples. They need to have an emotional component which includes stories to help make them meaningful.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

MacWorld 2008

I was at MacWorld for two days. I am undecided about the MacBook Air. Only a single USB 2 port (no firewire), no interchangeable battery (but it is supposed to last 5 hours), an external SuperDrive $99 add-on (powered through USB port). It is definitely for road warriors who need a lighter machine; it really isn't a desktop replacement laptop, like the MacBook Pro. Impressive engineering, though, with the ability to "borrow" the use of optical drives wirelessly on other computers (even a Windows computer!) for backup or installing software. Just gives an idea of the developments to come! The 64GB solid state drive option adds $1,000 to the price, though.

The other announcements were impressive: Time Capsule, an Airport base station with a hard drive, for backing up all the Macs on your network; the changes to iPhone/iPod Touch software that includes inserting your current location into GoogleMaps WITHOUT a GPS! (triangulating on wifi and cell phone networks) and changes to Apple TV, including renting movies online and being able to watch them on any device, including your big screen TV or your iPod.

I also saw Microsoft Office 2008 which was just released ...anxious to get my hands on my own copy. I saw the updated iView Multimedia which is now integrated into the Special Media Edition version. I was a fan of the earlier iView, when I used it in the late 90s. I created an interesting travel website with that tool. I now remember than Microsoft had bought the product. It will be interesting to see how this software has changed.