Wednesday, June 24, 2009

EIFEL 2009 ePortfolio Conference

I just posted my first SlideShare presentation of my keynote address at the EIFEL ePortfolio 2009 conference. I couldn't do my normal upload to GoogleDocs, since the Powerpoint file was over 10 MB. I devoted my presentation to a lifelong view of ePortfolios, and especially a new book that I am in the middle of reading: Portfolio Life. I'll have more to discuss about this book when I have time to reflect more deeply.
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Thursday, June 18, 2009

International Travel Scheduled

I've accepted invitations to speak at the following international events:
  • September 2009: University of Rosario in Bogotá Colombia
  • November 2009: E-portfolio International Conference, Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain
  • February 2010: ASB Un-Plugged, a conference to guide international schools towards one-to-one learning environments, Mumbai, India
    (I may try to tack on a conference in Singapore and a visit to New Zealand to that trip)
Looks like I might keep my Alaska Airlines MVP Gold membership for one more year!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Video Sharing Website

I've been exploring new video sharing services, since Google Video is now limiting uploads to either Business or Education GoogleApps accounts. I don't want to upload my videos to YouTube, partly because the site is often blocked in schools, and partly because uploaded videos are limited to ten minutes. Over a year ago, I created my own branded site, which doesn't have the size limitations, but the movies didn't always play back in full screen mode. I haven't yet set up a TeacherTube or SchoolTube account, but I think they have some of the same limitations as YouTube.

For another website project that I am developing, with a lot of webinar videos that we want to embed, we found The site allows longer videos, which can be viewed in full screen mode, and allows 750 MB of movies stored for free. However, for $29.95 per year, the Premium service allows unlimited video storage, maintains the original video file, and also allows the video to be downloaded into iPod/iPhone format. When logged in, the web page includes the code for embedding the video clip into another web page, such as this blog. The digital story below was developed at a workshop in 2005, focusing on the importance of developing digital family stories. We need online spaces to store these "legacy" stories!

I set up a Premium account to share all our family videos, with a privacy setting for family only to view. The system allows setting up folders to hold the videos. My first folder was for the videos which I uploaded directly from my Flip camera. The service has a basic video editor for files stored there. If you can take movies with your cell phone, you can email them directly to:
Maybe when I upgrade my iPhone, I'll be able to record videos, too!!!

I've been concerned about finding online spaces to store full quality video, not the low quality videos I see on YouTube. Premium Motionbox accounts also allow storage and downloading HD videos (just requires a high speed Internet connection). The normal playback is High-Quality, Low-Bandwidth (SD). I hope their business model is profitable enough to make this service viable for years to come. It meets a real need for families to store their video memorabilia.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Two Storytelling Workshops in one week

On Monday last week, I facilitated a short, one-day digital storytelling workshop for a nearby high school in Washington, sort of scheduled at the last minute. The students took a document that they had already written in their sophomore English class, we did a quick recording, and they created very short stories (most less than two minutes). That workshop showed us that the students could create stories in about four hours, if they have their stories already written, and brought their images to the workshop already in digital formats (some of them incorporated images from a Creative Commons Advanced Flickr search). Several of the students had never seen MovieMaker2 or Audacity before, but picked up the process very quickly, most even adding music. The teachers were impressed with the speed with which these students developed their digital stories. Of course, most of their work was done before the workshop began, since we used a poem they had already written ("I Am From..."). Next year, the school intends to have these same students as juniors create a digital story from a document they will create about their "American Dream" or their goals after high school.

I just returned from West Virginia, where I facilitated two-day digital storytelling workshop for a group of school teachers and some faculty and students from a small college. Most of them did not come to the workshop with a completed script, so I added GoogleDocs to our hands-on training on the first afternoon, which let them share their scripts with me that evening for my feedback. The second day was very intense, since we had to record the narrations, and construct the stories all on the second day. Some of the participants did not have their images digitized prior to the workshop, so I am thankful that one of the workshop organizers did the scanning. Everyone finished, but the workshop ended an hour late on the second day! There were two different platforms used during the workshop: Windows XP with MovieMaker2, and Macintosh laptops with different versions of iMovie, making it an interesting balancing act. (I need to spend some more time learning the latest version of iMovie9, since I am much more comfortable with iMovie6HD.) Some of the Mac users recorded their voices with the built-in microphones on their laptops, and I was impressed with the quality of the recordings.

We had our usual problems with MovieMaker2, when people don't gather all of their images into a single folder before starting to add them to their MovieMaker collection. Since MovieMaker only creates links to the photos, rather than making a duplicate copy, when the project file is moved without the images in the same folder, then it cannot be opened and edited (with big red X's where the photos should be). I need to work out a better way to explain this process so that "newbies" can avoid this issue. But participants in both workshops produced some good stories, plus the knowledge and experience to produce more, which is even more important.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Digital Identity and EIFEL's new direction

EIFEL is moving from a focus on interoperability of ePortfolio data (document export/import, data structures) to a more flexible approach of an ePortfolio interoperability framework "where individuals are free to choose the components of their own ePortfolio system while being capable of interacting with a number of different institutions across time (diachronic interoperability) and space (synchronic interoperability)."

In response to that posting, there was some interesting discussion on the ePortfolios-and-PLTs Google Group (mostly in the U.K.) about the development of Digital Identity. I was especially impressed by some lessons on Digital Identity, "This is Me" that were developed by the University of Reading in the U.K. and can be downloaded for free. My favority response to the issue of "digital identity" was posted by Roger Neilson, where he insightfully compared it to a teenager's bedroom:
There is probably a spectrum here, at one end is the protocol driven 'me' page that an organisation will seek to control, in the interests of child safety, personal data protection etc - and at the other end the 'vanity' page where everything is permitted and the entries are a mish mash of design, font, layout, with a lot of random (to us) material. some of which will be decidely not a good idea for data protection etc.

The problem is that any web presence that is purely prescribed by a bureaucracy will have no soul or personal 'declaration' and therefore especially for the teenage user, no interest whatsoever.

When we establish our own 'digital presence' we make choices as to what we put in the 'footprint' - there are probably some absolutes that need to be there, there will be some stuff that is very inadvisable to include - and there will be a lot of 'clutter' that for us will be very meaningful, but actually a waste of time for a reader.

A very necessary part of learning is to understand that we all have this digital footprint and that we need to manage it... so there has to be both guidance, and freedom to 'decorate it as they desire.

It's their teenage bedroom, we own the house and we can say there are key things that need to be in there, but we can only stand back and watch as they decorate it in a manner that they find wonderful, and we may find hideous.
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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Signed a book contract today

Over the years, I have had an avoidance of book publishing... I've canceled two book contracts over the last ten years. With the #1 website on "electronic portfolios" (based on a Google search using that term), I've wondered whether writing a book in the age of Web 2.0 was an oxymoron. With the changing nature of the Internet, wouldn't a book be quickly outdated? I'm glad I didn't publish the book I outlined ten years ago, since my vision has changed radically since that time.

Well, today I signed a book contract with the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) for a book on ePortfolios, focusing on K-12 students and teachers at all levels of their careers. The content will focus on creating student-centered interactive portfolios using generic Web 2.0 tools and processes. I have a lot of the components already on my website and written in this blog over the last five years. I feel like a sculptor... all I have to do is cut away all of the irrelevant stone/words and the statue/book will emerge! I intend to develop the book around themes of interactivity, reflection, engagement, and my vision of Balancing the Two Faces of ePortfolios.

So, I have seven months to write the first draft of the book! I am looking for case studies from across the world on using Web 2.0 tools for ePortfolios. I am also looking for a few good teachers who would like to implement the portfolio process using "safe" Web 2.0 tools, primarily GoogleApps for Education sites set up as "walled gardens" to protect student privacy. I am also willing to work with schools who have adopted other Web 2.0 tools to implement ePortfolios. I would provide training and then regularly observe some "real life" classrooms implementing ePortfolios using these tools across the age span: primary, intermediate, junior high and high school.

I am interested in finding teachers who are already familiar with the paper-based portfolio process, and who are already comfortable with the use of technology, who would be willing to work with me on implementing ePortfolios over the next school year. I would work with appropriate IT staff and a handful of teachers in their classrooms, on a mutually-agreed-upon schedule, to establish the free Web 2.0 services, and integrate ePortfolios throughout the school year, including student-led conferences, where appropriate. We could collaborate virtually over the Internet, or face-to-face in the Puget Sound area of Washington state.

Interested? Send me an email!

Monday, June 01, 2009

New Google Tools

The Google I/O Conference last week provided a glimpse at some very exciting new tools, some available now, some in the near future.
  • Google Web Elements allow you to easily add your favorite Google products onto your own website, as easily as you can embed a YouTube video. Here is my calendar:
  • The other announcement was Google Wave, "a new model for communication and collaboration on the web, coming later this year." The 80-minute YouTube video on that page showing the keynote address by the development team provides a pretty nice demo of the possibilities. To me, it looks like a cross between a chat room, GoogleDocs/Sites, with a really smart spell check and real-time language translation. I can hardly wait for its release.