Saturday, February 27, 2010

Mumbai Musings

My meetings with teachers and my e-portfolio workshops are all over at the ASB Unplugged International One-to-One [laptop] Learning Conference in Mumbai, India. Heading for New York late tomorrow night... will be traveling for 26+ hours, from the time we leave our hotel at midnight until we get to Newark. It's been a wonderful nearly two weeks here in India. No health problems (other than my arthritic knee). Lots of new friends from all over the world. Hope to come back.

Wonderful work being done in this international school, and many others. They have a vision for integrating technology across the curriculum, for meaningful learning. I am even more convinced that this is the way to go to really change our educational system, especially after seeing a group of 3rd graders showing their Google Sites e-portfolios to a lot of adults in a presentation yesterday... with such poise and self-confidence. They and their talented teachers are leading the way developing e-portfolios in this school, and I've been privileged to work with them this school year... so inspiring to see my ideas in action modified with their practical strategies in the reality of their classrooms.

This school is going to be one of the case studies in the book I am writing. I was in the 3rd grade classrooms on Thursday, and had an opportunity to talk with students in one class, and observe the students showing their portfolios in all three classrooms. Then I attended the presentation of the threeteachers, with the assistance of about 20 of their students, who took their laptops (they each have their own) throughout the room, sharing their portfolios with a lot of strangers (most of them teachers or administrators from International Schools from Europe and Asia). It was inspiring!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

ASB India

I am working on my TEDxIndia presentation on Thursday in Mumbai. I've been in India for a week, and it has been a spectacular trip, both visiting the American School of Bombay, and spending the weekend in Delhi and Agra (including a visit to the beautiful Taj Mahal!). It has been fascinating to see what can be done within a 1-to-1 laptop program, beginning in 3rd grade. I have been meeting with a variety of teachers for the last week, answering questions about ePortfolios, and trying to demystify the process. This is a PYP elementary school, and the students have been maintaining paper portfolios for quite a while, so adopting an electronic portfolio is natural transition in their 1-to-1 program.

I've been working with some of the teachers over the year, with short web/audio conferences on a monthly basis, and I am excited to see what the 3rd grade students have achieved using Google Sites. They have set up pages for each content  area using the Announcements page type, adding entries on a regular basis. One teacher says some of the students are making entries on their own, without prompting. The school videotaped those students talking about their portfolios. Many of their comments were priceless! I am hoping they will post the video online, so that I can link to it.

I am preparing for my TEDxIndia talk. The narrative is posted as a GoogleDocs document, and the slides are posted to SlideShare.
I would love some feedback on the ideas about how the boundaries are blurring between Social Networking and ePortfolio Development, and the need for more intrinsic motivation, based on Dan Pink's book, Drive.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Exciting week in Brooklyn

I was in Brooklyn all week, conducting workshops for the New York City Schools, Office of Education Technology for South Brooklyn, Staten Island. I knew they were interested in electronic portfolios, because I had email communication since last spring. We held our first training this week, showing teachers how to create their own portfolios with Google Docs and Google Sites. The first two-day workshop was held Monday and Tuesday, and was overflowing (we moved to a larger room the second day). The second workshop was supposed to begin on Wednesday, but was postponed for a day because of the snowstorm that hit the New York area. I heard about 50 MPH winds hitting the Empire State Building, knocking out satellite dishes for cable TV, but it was just snow in Brooklyn. I had a day off, and postponed my flight to return later on Friday.

I am impressed with the interest in e-portfolios in this program. It is also refreshing to see the emphasis on teaching portfolios as well as student portfolios… that to really appreciate the process, teachers need to construct their own portfolios before trying to implement them with students. I am also impressed with their commitment to learning portfolios for students, not for accountability. I am interested in being able to demonstrate the value of formative, self-assessment portfolios before they might get co-opted for summative assessment.

I just found out that New York City Schools is adopting a combination of ePals (for student mail and collaboration) with GoogleApps (minus GMail) next year. That makes the training that I did this week very relevant for them. They are also looking for schools in other parts of the world to collaborate. As more educational institutions adopt Google Apps, they have a ready tool for building interactive portfolios.

I'll be back in March (on my way back from India), and will be working under a different grant, where I will focus on e-portfolios as professional development environments for teachers (online personal learning environments).

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Blogger discontinuing FTP support

Today, Blogger announced that they will no longer support FTP publishing in Blogger after March 26, 2010. I have been publishing this blog to my own web server since May 2004, using FTP almost from the beginning because, at the time, I didn't want ads on my blog (no longer an issue). Now, I need to make a decision... do I host this blog as a address (not accessible on a lot of school networks), or do I host it on a custom domain (I have a couple of them that I am not using), or do I transfer the whole thing over to (not possible in the current FTP format)? So, I have a few weeks to make a decision... but I will be doing a lot of traveling between now and the end of March (New York, India, New Zealand, Sedona). I will post my decision soon, and will do the appropriate re-directing on my web server. Still, it is irritating, at a time when I am going to be very busy!