Sunday, April 26, 2009

Student Examples from Google

Last fall, Google asked teachers to share some examples of how they used Google Docs in their classrooms. I was especially impressed with Google's page on Senior year-long projects demonstrating the use of Google Sites as a process journal/e-portfolio by a couple of students doing internships at Blue Ridge Virtual High School.
Matt Dermody’s journal
Ryan Minnick’s journal

In Ryan's Google Site you will find a set of Help videos covering the process of creating a Google Site. I am also impressed with the summary of his journal embedded on his first page, linked to his journal on another page that was created with the Announcements page type. The journal is a great example of documenting a project over time using this tool (although there is no feedback or dialogue). I just want to learn what Gadget he used to embed the journal on his first page! Something to add to my page of instructions! I also noticed that he embedded Vimeo videos on the page. I thought you were limited to using YouTube or Google Video. More to learn!

Update: I figured out the Announcements... there is an Insert... Recent Posts Gadget, and you can select which Announcements page in the site and how many entries to summarize. I inserted a calendar and my demo posts on the first page of my Google Sites portfolio. Pretty cool!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Personal Brain

This is the 36th tool that I have used to re-create my electronic presentation portfolio, as part of my Online Portfolio Adventure. The process moved very smoothly; I was able to convert all URLs to weblinks (copy the link, create a weblink and the URL in the Clipboard is automatically inserted). The tool allowed me to reconstruct my portfolio in less than two hours, once I figured out the interface, copying the information from my Google Sites portfolio where I had the URLs on the page (and the links). All of my other artifacts are web links. I prefer to have the links open a new window (and the portfolio remains open). When an artifact is opened, the reader can then close the window to go back to the portfolio. However, in this tool, the weblinks opened in the lower window. Clicking on the Back arrow went back to the source of the link. That makes it very nice for keeping the portfolio navigation on the screen.

This tool would work very well for a presentation portfolio but other tools will need to be used for summative assessment. To aggregate assessment data, a spreadsheet could be created to collect quantitative data. The real advantage of Personal Brain is the dynamic nature of the mind map to organize and present the portfolio. I was able to upload a few files as attachments. I was able to create this hyperlinked set of web pages, with no knowledge of HTML. Once the "plex" was built, I exported it to HTML view, which created a folder that I uploaded to my website. However, to make any changes to the site required me to export the entire site again. There is also no interactivity with readers. So, while this is a very interesting "mind mapping" approach to developing a presentation portfolio, it lacks the ability to insert graphics except as an attachment. The software must be downloaded to a desktop computer to construct the "plex" so I used the Pro 30-day Trial version, but I'm not sure the Free Edition allows exporting to HTML.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

From a student perspective

On April 1 this year, I provided the keynote address at the Sakai Conference in Rhode Island where they have implemented Sakai and the Open Source Portfolio for all high school students in that state. My presentation focused on my Balance article, and the importance of student-centered strategies that included the students' own stories, with personalization, multimedia, and creativity. There were students in the audience, and I was told that they loved what I had to say. One of them told their teachers, "Our portfolios look like our textbooks, they don't look like us!"

So, as we consider tools, I think it is important to value the capability for students to personalize their ePortfolios as much as the capability to collect assessment data. There is a trade-off in most of the ePortfolio tools, between the type of creativity and personalization that students have in their social networking websites, and the data collection for institutions to track student achievement. I also think an online workspace in an ePortfolio system should include a reflective journal (a blog) for students to immediately reflect on their learning and the work that they are collecting. The blogging process facilitates feedback for improvement (assessment for learning--Black & Wiliam, 1998). Then, when students put together a hyperlinked presentation portfolio at the end of a course or a school year, they will have the collection/reflection of work to draw upon to build a more summative portfolio.

Monday, April 20, 2009

What is Web 2.0? (online course)

I received a message today that asked about my online course (
I am in my 40’s, and I never was too accomplished with the computer but can get by at work and home. However, I’ve noticed I am becoming increasingly ignorant on all these new apps (twitter, skype, linkedin, facebook, myspace, etc…) at a much faster pace than before. I feel this would help my career to be up on these new technologies as well...

PS. I know I’m a relatively private person, and maybe it’s my age but I don’t get this pre-occupation with young people putting their lives (pictures, video, personal business) out there for everyone to read? And who has the time to read it anyway!
So, I decided to set up a Google Group to support anyone who wants to follow my course content to learn more about Web 2.0, and to share the discussion with anyone else who joins the group. As an extra, the course also covers how to create an electronic portfolio using one of the many Web 2.0 tools.
* Group name: What is Web 2.0?
* Group home page:
* Group email address
The course is self-paced and currently available for free (but without any structured interaction). I just set up this class discussion group, and I haven't really advertised the course except in this blog and in the Google Groups Directory. Participants may go through the weblinks, view the videos and follow some the activities. I am currently working on a book, that I call "Your Digital Self" that covers a lot of these tools and social software strategies. I am making this course accessible under an "open courseware" model and as part of the research for my book. I may offer a more formal course next fall... but that is still not confirmed.

I am inviting participants to have their friends to join them in this learning adventure! From theories in education, we know there is power in social learning! That's what these social networks are currently demonstrating with the younger generation. My answer to her second question:
I have some of your same concerns about privacy... I have accounts on most of the social networks, but I don't use them as much as my daughter. I asked her your question (who reads it?) and her answer... "my friends!" The problem is, in our generation, most of our friends are not using these tools, so it doesn't seem to work as well for us as it does for young people who adopted these tools in high school or college.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

ePortfolio System Cartoon

I found this cartoon on a website in the U.K. focusing on choosing an ePortfolio system. It really shows that our underlying assumptions have an impact on the way ePortfolios are implemented... and on the tools that are chosen to meet these diverse purposes.

Monday, April 06, 2009

GoogleApps for K-12 ePortfolios

I've been working with K-12 educators on implementing ePortfolios. I am seeing more attention being paid to GoogleApps, as evidenced in an email I received today:
We are starting a “21st Century Learning Academy” in our district with our upcoming 6th graders next year and we are going to require our 6th graders and staff to create digital portfolios of their work. We have experimented with Google Sites/Apps already this year as we used it to create our school’s portfolio... As we worked on this portfolio, we learned how easily we could use this as a tool for 6th graders to showcase and reflect on their work.
I just set up a Google Group on developing electronic portfolios in K-12 using Google Apps:
* Group name: Using Google Apps for ePortfolios in K-12 Education
* Group home page:
* Group email address
I am hoping that other K-12 educators can join the group, and share their experiences developing ePortfolios with these free online tools. I recommend that if schools decide to use GoogleApps, they establish their own Google Apps for Education site, with their own domain name, as a quasi "walled garden" where student work can only be viewed by someone with an account within that domain.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]