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!