Thursday, January 28, 2010

Narrated Presentation

Balancing the Two Faces of E-Portfolios

I created a video tour of the new CIC website and added a narrated version of the presentation that was made at the Chief Academic Officers Conference of the Council of Independent Colleges, November 2009; audio recorded at Kapi'olani Community College, January 2010. I posted the presentation only in my video collection. This one focuses on a higher education audience, and provides my most recent rationale for eportfolios as both workspace and showcase, addressing both paradigms of assessment: improvement or accountability.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Microsoft Resource on Digital Storytelling

When I was at the Hawaii International Conference on Education, I heard Bernard Robin present on Digital Storytelling, and he mentioned that Microsoft was releasing a Digital Storytelling resource guide for teachers, using the new Windows Lime MovieMaker (for Windows 7) and PhotoStory for Windows XP. Looks like some nice work and good resources.

Monday, January 25, 2010

AAC&U ePortfolio Symposium

It is a rare meeting where I will travel all the way across the country for a single day (and two nights) when I am not working or presenting, but the AAC&U meeting in Washington, D.C., was worth the miles traveled. I connected with friends and total strangers came up to me, acknowledging my work. The opening session was conducted by Bret Eynon and Elizabeth Clark from LaGuardia Community College, providing an overview of their program, a model for community colleges around the country. I then attended a breakout session conducted by Dr. Mentkowski from Alverno College, a pioneer in e-portfolios and "Learning that Lasts." I attended their Assessment Institute over six years ago, and their model of assessment-as-learning is the process underlying their use of portfolios and e-portfolios.

The lunch speech was given by Melissa Peet from the University of Michigan. She did an outstanding job with examples of a process of reflection that can transform students' perspectives on leadership and social change. I had an opportunity to have a very enjoyable dinner with her, along with Trent Batson and the two presenters from Laguardia Community College. I am anxious to read more about Melissa's work at UM.

After lunch, there were five mini-presentations, and then many more table groups where we could talk in-depth to one of the presenters. I sat at Gail Ring's table to learn more about the Clemson ePortfolio graduation requirement. They have students create their portfolios using Google Sites, and have provided a lot of support materials. They also created their own assessment management system to manage the collection of key assignments demonstrating required outcomes and scoring of the portfolios. There was also panel on assessment that included Trudy Banta (she told the story about the questions she asked at the IUPUI Assessment conference... described in my blog). Finally, Randy Bass gave the closing keynote, about ePortfolios in the "Post-Course" Era. It was a very thought-provoking presentation. I hope they will be posting podcasts of the major presentations.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

My Wish List for Audio in Google Docs

Now that we can Upload Anything into Google Docs, I have a wish list for more upgrades. I want to be able to embed and play audio files that I store in my Google Docs account, not just download them. As indicated in my last blog entry, I was able to embed an uploaded MP3 on a Google Sites page, but it wasn't easy. I'm looking for a gadget to embed stored audio as easily as embedding a YouTube video. I want Google Docs to generate an embed code, not just a link to download an MP3. Or give me a menu item in Google Sites.

I realize there is the potential for copyright abuse with MP3s, but I want to be able to create audio narrations to go along with the other artifacts in a portfolio. Students learning to speak another language need an easy way to capture spoken evidence of their learning. Of course, the user interface is also an issue, since it is usually young children who can talk about their learning before they can write about it... or collect reading samples, now sometimes done with iPods... so it needs to be easy enough for elementary teachers and students to use.

Even better, a built-in tool like Myna would be terrific, that would allow someone to record a narration that would get embedded on a page! The first e-portfolio tool that I ever used (the Grady Profile originally written in Hypercard) had the built-in ability to record audio (specifically reading samples). That was 1991! I don't know of any web-based e-portfolio tool with the ability to capture audio directly (rather than uploading a pre-recorded audio file). Right now, we often use Audacity for recording to our computers, exporting the audio clip to MP3, uploading/embedding the clip into whatever e-portfolio system we are using... a lot of steps. As we move to cloud computing, we need more simple cloud-based tools that don't rely on desktop applications.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

My Google Storage Activated

I woke up this morning to this message on my Google Docs page:

So, I found the three files that I have been using in my study of online storage systems, and uploaded them to my Google Docs account.  There were two PDF files (Google Docs has been able to store PDFs for the last year) and one 10MB MP3 file of my presentation at a conference. I proceeded to experiment based on instructions in a website that I recently found: How to Embed MP3 Audio Files In Web Pages With Google or Yahoo! Flash Player. I used the code for the Google Reader player, and I embedded it on a demo Google Site I was using for a class. It took a couple of tries, because I don't think Google is supporting the embedding of MP3 files, but I made it work by tweeking the download URL on the Google Docs download page for that document (removed the download suffix on the URL).

Euripides said... An update- I was told after uploading one of my podcasts that "sorry, we do not currently support MP3 files"
Obviously! The process I went through worked, but it was not for the faint of heart (or those who don't understand URL codes). I hope that there will be a gadget soon, that will make this process seamless, just like embedding YouTube videos. Using to embed audio with a player is much easier!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Google Online Storage...Finally!

Today, the Official Google Docs Blog announced "the ability to upload, store and organize any type of file in Google Docs." Finally! (at least some time over the next couple of weeks) can upload to Google Docs any file up to 250 MB. You'll have 1 GB of free storage for files you don't convert into one of the Google Docs formats (i.e. Google documents, spreadsheets, and presentations), and if you need more space, you can buy additional storage for $0.25 per GB per year...
According to the response to questions in the Comments in this blog entry, the additional storage is shared between Picasa Web Albums, Gmail and Google Docs. The cost is described on this page. Picasa (images) provides 1 GB free storage, GMail provides 7+ GB free, and now GoogleDocs provides 1 GB free. You can't share free storage between applications, but if you upgrade even the smallest amount (20 GB for $5 per year), you can use that extra storage in any of those tools.

The Google Enterprise Blog Entry indicates that this capability is available to GoogleApps users (also for GMail accounts). For now, the Documents List API will only be available to GoogleApps Premiere domains (what about Education Edition?).

Assuming this functionality is available to Education accounts, for ePortfolios, we finally have our digital archive that will hold any type of file. GoogleDocs Folders can also be shared. I can hardly wait to see how it works. Will the files have an Embed code? Are they individually linkable? I am specifically looking for the ability to embed audio files, much as we can do with YouTube videos. Will it be easy enough for a primary student to use??? Some of the comments in the blog are asking for a DropBox-type of interface (synchronize contents of folders). I agree!

UPDATE: In response to public requests, Google increased the maximum file size to 1 GB while also adding a Thumbnail view to your GoogleDocs Home page (Documents List).