Friday, January 30, 2009

Balancing 2 Faces of ePortfolios

I am working on a new diagram and document that focuses on the two major purposes of ePortfolios in (primarily) higher education, and will discuss the difference in strategies and tools, much of it discussed in other entries in my blog. I've transfered the working version into a GoogleDocs file, and invite co-authors who are interested in working on these ideas. This is also the theme of an upcoming keynote address that I will be making next fall.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A New Educational Experience

I participated in an interesting educational activity this week, with a lot of support from technology. There were video clips that were used to present the point of view of one of the presenters, who also used Powerpoint slides to convince the participants of her point of view. This experience could have taken place in many different classrooms, but it didn't; it was in a courtroom. The person using video and PowerPoint was one of the attorneys, and I was an alternate on a jury in a criminal case. I won't go into the details of the case, but just my impressions of the process.

The other attorney did not use any visual aids, or use PowerPoint to make his points. From my professional perspective, the arguments of the technology-using attorney, supported by her Powerpoint slides reinforcing her points, along with the support of the video evidence, contributed to a more convincing case. When I talk about the evidence in a portfolio, I often use the metaphor of an attorney in court, creating an argument around a piece of evidence, using it to prove a case; in an educational portfolio, the case is the achievement of a learning outcome, goal or standard; the evidence is a piece of work, and I am more convinced about the power of video. In my latest learning experience, both attorneys were making logical arguments. I was more impressed by the presence of video evidence, and the obvious preparation of the technology-using attorney. It just reinforces for me the power of multimedia evidence when trying to convince someone else to agree with your opinion, especially related to achievement. But I also recognize the importance of a good argument (reflection) to support the multimedia evidence.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

ePortfolio Events - Spring 2009

  • ePortfolios West Coast Summit - February 24-25, 2009 in San Francisco, California. Description: We have invited notable speakers from the United Kingdom, Canada, and across the United States. There will also be opportunities for you to engage in dialogues about ePortfolios, no matter what your experience may be--thinking about it, just getting started, or implementing at a large scale. We have identified 3 main themes for the day: Teaching and Learning with ePortfolios (electronic portfolios), Workforce/ Professional Development, and Assessment/Accountability. This day-long event designed to bring together K- 20 and workforce organizations who use or who are interested in using ePortfolios. Attendees will have opportunities to hear students, faculty, employers, and experts address issues of teaching, learning, assessment, bridging to careers, and ePortfolio tools. We would like to share successes, lessons learned, challenges and strategies for the future use of electronic portfolios. You will find the complete program, a link to the online registration, and other information about the conference at the following website:

  • ePortfolio 2009, London, England, June 22-24, 2009. Conference website: Deadline for submissions: February 28, 2009.

  • Web 2.0 Tools for Classroom-Based Assessment and Interactive Student ePortfolios, June 27, 2008. Hands-on Workshop at National Educational Computing Conference, Washington, D.C., conducted by Dr. Helen Barrett
    This session will provide participants with access to Web 2.0 tools (including the major GoogleApps: GoogleDocs and Google Sites) available for free on the Internet to facilitate assessment FOR learning (classroom-based assessment) with electronic portfolios, focusing on K-12 schools. A special emphasis of this workshop will be to focus on creating ePortfolios that demonstrate the new ISTE NETS-S and the 8th grade technology competency. Register through NECC.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Google Web Drive Rumors Appear (Again)

The rumors about Google's long-awaited GDrive (or Google Web Drive) has shown up again on news websites as well as other blogs:
These articles predict that Google's "cloud" storage will become available in 2009, a prediction made in 2007 by the Wall Street Journal. What makes this seem like more of a reality is a screenshot, posted on a MacRumors forum, of the new Mac beta version of Google's Picasa, shown in the TGDaily article, showing "Google Web Drive" as one option for moving image collections (removed in updated versions of the software):Hmmm.... When this service becomes a reality, it will really change the collection part of the portfolio process. I've been blogging about this possibility for the last year.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Witnessing History

Here is how I witnessed History today. My laptop camera was pointed toward my TV, and I was sharing the moment (over the Web using Skype) with my daughter who was in her apartment in Budapest (she has no TV, just the Internet). She has already posted the picture to her Facebook page. I was in her apartment last November, witnessing the events in Grant Park over the Internet (at 5 AM!) and blogging the moment. It was fun to catch a glimpse of 10-year-old Malia Obama today carrying her digital camera (I also saw her using it on Sunday at the concert at the Lincoln Memorial), capturing her own unique memories of this historic time.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Another digital storytelling workshop

I just facilitated another digital storytelling workshop, but this time, the stories were developed by high school students, not teachers. I did a workshop with their teachers last June, and had a few model stories that I could share with the students. In December, I met with the students, and the teachers who had participated in the last workshop plus a few new ones. The students worked in small groups with the teachers to write their stories. During that first day, I did a brief introduction, and showed some examples of digital stories (most of them are posted on my website) while they worked on their stories. I also showed them the two tools we would be using: Audacity and MovieMaker2. Finally, we made individual appointments with many of the students to record their stories on the day before the hands-on workshop.

Last Tuesday, I helped about two-thirds of the students record the audio of their scripts. I used two different methods: Audacity and a headset connected to my Windows laptop (created an AUP Audacity file), and my Sony hand-held digital recorder (created a stereo MP3 file). At the begnning of the workshop on Wednesday, I went through the process they would go through to finish their stories by the end of the day. I showed them how to use the "envelope" command in Audacity so that they could lower the volume of the music that most of them added to their narration, prior to inserting the final audio clip into MovieMaker2. We also set up a white board with the tasks that had to be completed by the end of the day. Most of the students finished an hour ahead of schedule, so that we were able to have our "Showtime" (complete with popcorn) and they could go home early. One of the teachers used the extra time to talk with the students about the process and what they learned. I appreciated some of the comments by a few of the students about how easy the process was (especially combining the audio tracks in Audacity).

Wow! Even though I heard most of the stories as they were being recorded, many of the final products, with the images that they included, were stunning! A few students, including two who brought in their own laptops, did a lot of the work on their own prior to the workshop (they didn't necessarily follow the process, but they did come up with some good products). We are hoping that some of these students will become mentors for this digital storytelling process with their peers. I am also going to write up some lesson plans to use with teachers, to implement this process in 50 minute periods.

I am looking forward to doing more of these workshops with students. I learned as much from them as they did from me. It was another good reality check for me!

EdTechTalk Live

On Thursday, January 15, I participated in an online audio conference, sponsored by "Teachers are Talking," that was streamed live through EdTechTalk. It was my first time using this process. A few of us connected via Skype and broadcast to a small audience who joined in a chat room and asked questions or posted comments in their live streaming page. The show should soon be available online for download.

It was an interesting conversation. Perhaps I got a little radical, but I think I got a good response from my comments about teachers trying to implement ePortfolios without having that experience for themselves. When asked how we could improve the process, I used one word: modeling (teachers being able to show their own portfolios to their students). I was also asked about how I keep going when ePortfolios seem to have lost their popularity in K-12 schools (especially in response to NCLB). I just emphasized my view of the lifelong, life-wide perspective, talked about my vision of "Portfolios in the Cloud" and a lifelong approach, which several people commented that they had never thought about portfolios in this way. I emphasized student ownership and personalization of ePortfolios, and the two different types of portfolios. Many of the participants currently are blogging with their students... I showed how these blog entries, with any work attached, is the learning portfolio (portfolios as workspace/process). Then we talked about the challenges with putting together a more formal presentation portfolio (time consuming, questions about audience). A lot of interesting questions and, I hope, an intriguing discussion.

How do I keep up my enthusiasm for this process? I mentioned the inclusion of digital stories in ePortfolios, as a way to personalize and support reflection. The digital storytelling workshops that I am doing with teachers and students are very inspiring.

Another new toy/tool

I just upgraded my old Flip video camera (and gave my first-generation Flip to my granddaughter for Christmas). I like this new version because it has a built-in rechargeable battery that charges through the USB port... no more messing with AA batteries!

While watching one of my favorite morning TV programs on MSNBC (Morning Joe), one of the founders of a brand new Internet news site, Global Post, was explaining how they were collecting stories from all over the world. Each of their reporters were given these Flip video cameras to capture their stories destined for their website. Immediately, the co-host of the program (Mika) said, "Oh, I love my Flip..." and pulled it out of her purse.

This version of the camera is a lot smaller than the original, so it fits
into my purse more easily. I am hoping that it will be more handy (smaller, better power system) so that I can do more video blogging (maybe!). I've been watching a friend and colleague do a lot of work with these cameras, including capturing reflections of participants during a workshop.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

More online publications

There are several new articles recently published about ePortfolios, primarily in higher education:

The Portfolio Enigma in a Time of Ephemera - an article in Campus Technology by Trent Batson - an interesting quote from the online comments to this article: "What's interesting in this debate is that most institutions are looking at e-portfolio software solutions that cost thousands of dollars and ignoring the fact that there is a much simpler way of puttimg an e-portfolio together that is portable and also allows the student to update,add,subtract, and modify content in the portfolio for each viewer. And the student maintains control of the content long after they have left the institution."

"The Future of ePortfolio" Roundtable - an article by Bret Eynon (LaGuardia Community College) published in Academic Commons, a transcript of a round table held at the ePortfolio Conference in April 2008. I was part of that roundtable.

Making Common Cause: Electronic Portfolios, Learning, and the Power of Community - an article by Kathleen Blake Yancey also published in Academic Commons (from the new book, Electronic Portfolios 2.0: Emergent Research on Implementation and Impact, edited by Darren Cambridge, Barbara Cambridge, and Kathleen Blake Yancey, contributors from diverse institutions of higher education in sites across two continents share their research on electronic portfolios through the National Coalition for Electronic Portfolio Research -- NCEPR)

Thursday, January 08, 2009

ePortfolios and Web 2.0

I'm sitting in the OSPI conference (state of Washington's Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, not the Open Source Portfolio Initiative) at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle, in a session on "School 2.0: Leading, learning and living in a flat world." The content is not new (to me) but it seems to be new to a lot of the participants. This is a conference for all of the teachers in the state. In this session, due to the weather in the Northwest (floods and avalanches), one of the presenters was stuck in a hotel about 90 miles away, but participating on Skype and using a presentation on GoogleDocs. I know, I've used Skype for years and have blogged about some of my online conferences (mostly from my home, where I have great connection speed). The presenters at the session have struggled with low bandwidth in the convention center. This session was a real-world example of the challenges of using Web 2.0 in the classroom: adequate bandwidth for sharing video. I know why in my presentations I only show videos that I have stored on my own hard drive.

I am hoping that Obama's proposal to upgrade schools for the information age will include not only more hardware and increased bandwidth, but also professional development for teachers. I am preparing for an ISTE Webinar on February 18, entitled "ePortfolios and Web 2.0" with this description:
This webinar will focus on using Web 2.0 tools, freely available on the Internet, to create student-centered electronic portfolios. Learn how the use of a portfolio can be a powerful tool to support both learning and assessment, making learning visible across the curriculum. We will look at how to use blogs, wikis and online productivity tools to create interactive portfolios.