Friday, February 29, 2008

Seattle Conference

For once, I made a presentation at a conference in a location where I could sleep in my own bed (at least for a short time). The Northwest Council for Computers in Education is holding its annual conference at the Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle. I did a presentation on Interactive ePortfolios: Using Web 2.0 tools to Provide Feedback on Student Learning. Part of my experience was taking the Sounder train into downtown Seattle (leaving my town at 6:30 AM!), and finding that the train had wifi... fairly slow, but I was able to upload a version of my slides, and check my email on my trip home.

The keynote presenter was Mark Prensky, who had a pretty powerful message. He is well known for his research on games and "digital natives" and his focus on student engagement. (One quote from a student: "eMail is for old people!") He gave the audience a 5-minute research assignment for which we could only use a cell phone (no computers!) to find the answer. Very interesting exercise. It makes me more convinced that learners should be using cell phones more in the ePortfolio process.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Google Announces Medical Records Online

An interesting news announcement yesterday:
According to the Computerworld article:
...the company became interested in entering the personal health records (PHR) business when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast and countless paper-based medical records were lost in the aftermath of the storm.
Even more people lost a lot of personal memorabilia during that storm, which I referenced in a blog entry at the time. Although not as life-critical as medical records, our personal and professional documents are part of the legacy that we leave for later generations. Having a personal online archive of a variety of digital media, for use in a variety of contexts, is a natural extension of these personal health records. Just as medical records primarily document the development and change in our physical bodies, a digital archive/ePortfolio can document the development and change in our cognitive domain. Medical records are primarily developed by medical professionals and confidentiality is required by law; a digital archive/ePortfolio is created by the individual, often within a social environment, and confidentiality should be under individual control.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Web 2.0 Tools & Online Storage

I received a notice that the Online Education Database has published a new article: e-Learning Reloaded: Top 50 Web 2.0 Tools for Info Junkies, Researchers & Students. Here is also an excellent list of 15 Websites to Learn Web 2.0 written by educator Vicki Davis and published by 21st Century Connections. Vicki is well known for her use of Wikispaces with her students (her #1 link). Her #2 link is Google and its many services.

I have also been doing some research on the different tools that can be used for online storage, as I found Google's March 2006 vision of "a place for users to store 100% of their data online.”
  • "Google Plans Service to Store Users' Data" (Wall Street Journal, November 27, 2007) - includes a good comparison of different virtual storage services available:
  • "Google GDrive coming soon?" (from downloadsquad blog, November 27, 2007, including a history of the GDrive developments) - Apparently the project has been called Platypus or simply "My Stuff" although that name is the name of the new open source ePortfolio system created by the Open University in the U.K.
The big question is, WHEN??? I am experimenting with a third party addition to my Firefox browser, called GSpace, which lets me use 2 GB of my GMail/Picasa web space, being able to transfer files into folders within a browser window. I have already paid $20 (annual fee) to upgrade my online Picasa Storage so that I could upload more than the 1 GB limit for images. As of today, GMail storage has increased to more than 6 GB per account (and keeps growing).

To effectively use any of these virtual storage solutions as the digital archive for any e-portfolio system (or "lifetime personal web space"), they need to have the capability of OmniDrive and to "share files by creating a Web address that others can access." If I were to make a wish, I'd like an interface like YouTube or Picasa, that provides the HTML or URL to easily embed or copy/paste a hyperlink. I'm also hoping that the new interface allows more seamless integration between the different Google Apps (dare I hope "drag and drop" within a single window?). Now I have to switch between multiple windows to copy URLs for links to different documents. I hope the Google virtual storage service becomes available soon, and I hope it also works seamlessly with a Mac (not just Windows).

Thursday, February 14, 2008

More International Travel Planned

I just heard from the group in Mexico that they want me back. I guess my workshop in December was very well received. The participants give ratings with a range of 1 (best) to 7 (worst). The average of my evaluations was 1.2! Looks like I am going to work with the high school teachers on digital storytelling/podcasting.

I have also been invited to speak in Bogota, Columbia in August 2008, at a conference with the theme "How to integrate Information and Communication Technologies to Higher Education Curriculum." I will do a presentation that will discuss the role of e-portfolios in higher education and then I will do a full day-long hands-on workshop on the second day. I just might need to get my handouts translated into Spanish!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

iPhone Portfolio

I was in Birmingham, Alabama, last week, helping UAB define their vision for ePortfolios across their campus, and leading a workshop to help them identify their change strategies and potential tools. During a break, one of the participants showed me a collection of images on her iPhone, showcasing her husband's sculptures, a classic implementation of an art portfolio. I knew the time would come when people would start using mobile devices to publish their portfolios. I'm still not ready for my own iPhone (I'm waiting for upgrades I discussed in my July 15 blog entry). Maybe I should get an iPod Touch in the meantime! But I can't record audio (yet) or take pictures with it. I bought my last two iPods just before they released a new version. I think I'll wait.