Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Oregon Public Schools adopt GoogleApps

Just announced today by the Oregon Virtual School District:
State Schools Superintendent Susan Castillo announced today that Oregon is the first state in the nation to sign up for Google Apps for Education in K-12 classrooms. Google Apps are available for free to Oregon public schools on a voluntary basis and are designed to help schools improve digital literacy and reduce IT costs while maintaining the security of school and student data.
The website includes the Oregon Google Apps agreement (PDF). Now every school child in Oregon will have the potential to develop a digital archive of their work (in GoogleDocs) and a presentation portfolio (in either GoogleDocs or Google Sites). This is a very interesting development. Here are some articles about this development:
Hopefully Oregon will be the first of many states to make it easy for schools to adopt this tool, not only for GMail, but also as a powerful tool to support learning. Very enlightened approach! The concept of Lifetime Personal Webspace is becoming more of a reality!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Pages in Blogger

Where have I been? In February, Google added Pages to the tools available in Blogger. I realize that I was traveling non-stop in February and March, but I should have noticed the ability to Edit Pages in the Blogger Dashboard! It was when I finally moved this blog from my own FTP server back to Google that I paid attention to this new feature. The addition of (a maximum of 10) pages to a Blogger blog changes my opinion of using this tool for an ePortfolio. Although limiting a portfolio to 10 pages might be limiting for some people with a lot of categories or content, but for many people, this might be a good option for beginners. Just as I recommend using Blogger as a good starter blog, perhaps it will be a good tool for novice portfolio developers.

I have created a few pages so far (Resources on ePortfolio Development, and Versions of my Presentation Portfolio). Now I can develop a new presentation portfolio using Blogger (My Life Portfolio) and a set of instructions on how to develop ePortfolios using this tool (Using Blogger Pages to Maintain an ePortfolio).

My next request of Google: PLEASE include Blogger inside GoogleApps Education Edition. Most K-12 education networks tend to block addresses, and educators need a safe blog that can be created inside their GoogleApps "walled garden" that is protected and legal for students under the age of 13. Many educators use EduBlogs (a version of WordPressMU) but the Campus version for classes of students requires a fee, and the user interface is not as friendly as Blogger. The combination of GoogleDocs, Google Sites and Blogger would be a terrific environment to document learning for all ages!

Which Portfolio Tool?

I have been receiving a lot of emails lately (or reading blog posts) asking the question about the best e-portfolio tool. It seems like I do one of these blog posts every year. Whenever I receive that question about what tools are best, my answer is always, "It Depends!" Context is everything: purpose, audience, technology infrastructure, age of student, budget available, etc. Purpose should determine what tools to use. Different tools have different affordances. There are basically two models of electronic portfolios, as described in the draft National Educational Technology Plan released in February: a student-managed learning portfolio (p.12) and an analytical serve assessment purposes (p.34). Each type of portfolio requires different tools. I briefly describe these two strategies in my blog.

I actually recommend a variety of Web 2.0 tools for many reasons: authenticity, audience, continuity after graduation, ownership, engagement. I also like WordPress/EduBlogs because of the interactivity/feedback, a good classification system for blog entries, and the ability to construct multiple pages in addition to blog posts. I responded to that same request that was made on the Google for Educators website. To summarize, I think there is a difference between a student-centered e-portfolio that engages the student in their own learning/self-assessment, and an institution-centered assessment management system that is prescribed and pre-structured for the student (much like the Sakai system). The bigger question to ask: what type of assessment do your e-portfolios support? Formative assessment to support feedback/improvement? or Summative assessment for accountability? Those differing paradigms of assessment produce very different portfolios... and levels of student engagement. Last fall, at the IUPUI Assessment Conference, I pointed out the Opportunity Cost of each paradigm of assessment. I posted a version of that presentation online: Balancing the Two Faces of E-Portfolios (the Opportunity Cost discussion is in the last 15 minutes).

I also recorded a TEDxASB presentation in Mumbai in February, where I discussed the issue of Intrinsic Motivation, based on Dan Pink's latest book, Drive, and how the boundaries are blurring between E-Portfolios and Social Networking.

On my website I have a specific page where I show Categories of E-Portfolio Tools which has links to a variety of commercial and open source tools. I should comment that there are very few customized e-portfolio tools developed with K-12 students as the primary user; they were primarily developed in higher education for higher education students. I also have a Delicious list of links.

I am working with educators across the world who want to develop student-centered e-portfolios with Web 2.0 tools. A major consideration is that the implementation of electronic portfolios is a major change process. Schools can select a minimal level of implementation (ARCHIVE: electronic storage of artifacts), a secondary level (PROCESS: documenting learning over time using a reflective journal/blog with linked artifacts), or a higher level (PRODUCT: organizing reflections and artifacts thematically in a showcase/presentation to demonstrate specific outcomes/goals/standards), explained in this article on my website.

I sponsor an open Google Group for K-12 Educators who are interested in exploring the use of GoogleApps for ePortfolios.
I also sponsor a more moderated Google Group on Researching Web 2.0 Portfolios across the lifespan.

I am in the middle of working on a book on Interactive Portfolios, that outlines the use of Web 2.0 tools to build student-centered e-portfolios across the age levels, from early childhood to professional teaching portfolios. The book will be published by ISTE and I will be making a presentation about the main points at the ISTE Conference in Denver in June 2010. I  am writing the chapter in my book right now on strategic planning to implement portfolios, and preparing to lead planning workshops for schools in New York in May, so the issues are foremost on my mind right now. Here is a link to a PDF planning document/decision tree for K-12 educators, covering the many issues to address when exploring that question, What Tools are Best? I'd love some feedback. What questions are missing?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Moving my blog

I needed to move my blog to a new address, because Blogger will no longer support FTP as of May 1, 2010. Making the transition was easier in April than it was when I first looked at it in February. At first, I changed it to a address... then I set up a new domain (at $10/year) and to my pleasant surprise, Google also set up a GoogleApps account. So my blog is now and I can work with Docs and Sites once the domain is fully set up. So, there are benefits to migration that I didn't know about in February. Nice touch!

Friday, April 23, 2010

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Language Translation programs

One of the benefits of an internationally-known website is to receive emails from educators throughout the world; one of the challenges is to understand what is being written in some of those emails; worse is the challenge to read papers that appear to be translated by computer programs. For example, here is the first paragraph of a document that was sent to me, where the author asked me to recommend a journal where this paper could be published:
The Psychology of the Education, while scientific area, in its flowing triple, basic, projective and technique, of has long date, has eventide, between many other subjects, a vast panoply of forms to learn and to teach, its advantages and disadvantages, relevancy and conditions of implementation, questions of validity and effectiveness, under aide of the quality of education, formation, education, in general, in any context of comment and intervention.
I'm not sure I have the energy to try to interpret what is being said. But even more difficult is trying to interpret the translation of the concept of the portfolio (whether paper or electronic) between different world cultures and education traditions. Just as I have discussed different metaphors for portfolios, there are also different issues with translation of the portfolio concept. Portfolios have been called "electronic file delivery" and I know some languages do not have comparable translation of the words reflection, assessment and accountability. These linguistic as well as cultural differences make communication difficult. Technology alone cannot solve that problem, as shown by the translation quoted above. I wonder which program was used?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

ePortfolio on iPad & iWork

This morning, I read the following tweet:
Had a student bring an iPad with his digital portfolio to an interview. Keynote with pictures and video of him teaching. Cool! (@alvintrusty)
Since I bought Keynote for my iPad, I decided to give it a try. This is now the 37th version of my online presentation portfolio, but the first developed using my iPad. I found the 2007 version of my portfolio that I created in PowerPoint, and imported it into Keynote on my Mac (I found out later it was an unnecessary step... Keynote on the iPad will convert PowerPoint files). Then, I connected my iPad to my laptop and through iTunes, imported the file into my iPad. Once transferred to my iPad, I was able to activate through my Apple account and upload the keynote file to that website. Once there, I activated public sharing and received the link to share it publically (I was able to update the file the next day, but needed to make the link public again on the iWork website). I noticed that embedded hyperlinks worked on the iPad, but not on the website.

In the original Powerpoint, I used the Speakers Notes to record my reflections. When the file was imported into the iPad, the notes were stripped out. Interesting! It really didn't take me long to do this conversion with a few simple edits. The iWork website has a place to add notes, so there is a level of interactivity once it is uploaded. This was the first presentation that I edited on the iPad. It looks pretty easy to use. I would prefer a more interactive environment for a working portfolio, but this format is more appropriate for a presentation portfolio, and appears to be free when used with the Mac or iPad version of the iWork software.

I placed weblinks in the original Powerpoint, and they appeared in the iPad version. The links worked in presentation mode, but to get back into my presentation, I needed to open Keynote again... and I was not connected to a projector, so I don't know if the web pages would show through the projector. I did notice that the .mov videos that were stored on my .Mac account did not play in Safari on the iPad. Next time, I will see about embedding videos in my next Keynote presentation, to see how it works. I haven't yet figured out whether videos imported into the iPad through iTunes can be linked to play from within Keynote.

This ePortfolio can be viewed either online or on the iPad without Internet access. The real downside of this process is versioning: if I make changes on my iPad, I need to be careful if I transfer it back to my Mac, to make sure I am saving the most recent version... and I would need to upload the changed version to, which replaces the older version (but eliminates the public link, which needs to be reset on the iWork website). This illustrates the value of editing my GoogleDocs Presentation version: the latest version is always stored online. (However, right now I cannot edit GoogleDocs through the iPad's Safari browser.)

I am looking forward to future developments in the software for this platform. I have used Keynote to create a presentation portfolio and shared it using my iPad; there are blogging tools for maintaining a working/reflecting portfolio (WordPress and BlogPress on the iPad); and I can store files in many cloud storage sites, including GoogleDocs,, Apple's iDisk or These are all three main components of a learner-centered portfolio system: storage of artifacts, reflection/documenting learning over time, and a presentation/showcase medium. We just need a tool to tie them all together. I am anxious to see how this environment matures, and how easily it can be implemented by learners of different ages!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Editing GoogleDocs on iPhone & iPad

I found a 3rd party solution for editing GoogleDocs with both my iPhone and my iPad. There are apps available that make this possible: Office2 (squared) for the iPhone ($5.99 in the iTunes App store) and Office2 Pro for the iPad ($7.99 in the iPad App store). There is a free version for the iPhone/iPod Touch, but it doesn't allow saving. The Doc2 app is $3.99 (saves documents); same price for the Sheet2 app (saves spreadsheets). 

I was able to open GoogleDocs Document and Spreadsheet files, edit them, and save them to the web. All changes were made to GoogleDocs. I also created documents on my iPad and iPhone, and was able to copy and paste text between those documents and my GoogleDocs, so I am able to work off-line. I can also open files stored in, Mobile Me (iDisk), and

I bought the Bluetooth keyboard and the VGA cable. I also downloaded Keynote for the iPad, and my daughter has challenged me to do my next presentation with my iPad. I have three weeks to prepare! It looks like I can't plug the iPad into power while using the VGA cable. But I am getting more than 10 hours on the battery! Just need to start with a fully charged iPad.
Next I will explore online storage from the iPad/iPhone!
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Monday, April 12, 2010

Changes to GoogleDocs

Announced today: This video says it well. Also, the TechCrunch post today: Google Docs Gets More Realtime; Adds Google Drawings To The Mix. You know, I saw the Drawing icon when I signed in to Google Docs this morning. Now I see what it means. It just keeps getting better and better! Thanks, Google! My next collaborative ePortfolio planning workshops are going to be a lot more fun! And the output will be a lot more visual!
Official GoogleDocs Blog Post

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Audio in ePortfolios

Mobile devices are great at capturing the moment: audio reflection, video clip, text comment. I'm not sure they are good at organizing all of the data into a coherent presentation. It would be interesting to have an app that would show me the videos that I have uploaded to YouTube, or the blog entries I have written, or the audio clips I have stored online.

Audio is the major void in the space. We can use Aviary's Myna to capture and store audio, and give a link or embed code. But I think you need a desktop computer to use that tool. I wonder if Aviary is planning an App? The Aviary tools are now available as a menu in my Firefox browser and can be embedded into GoogleApps. Of course, if the software is based on Flash, it won't work on an iPad. I have AudioBoo on my iPhone (but haven't used it yet... maybe that is the solution?).

Here is are two common situations with a need for easy audio recording and embedding:
  • ESL students need to be able to capture speaking samples, to compare their progress over time. When my daughter was teaching English at a High School in Budapest, we used their mobile phones and MP3 players to capture their speaking samples, but never went the whole way and create an ePortfolio that stored all of those speaking samples. I worked with a university in Mexico that was having students use Audacity to record their speaking samples, uploading them to a free storage site, and used Blogger to organize the links and reflections (it was an awkward process).
  • Early readers need to capture their oral reading skills. Here is a 2006 Apple paper (PDF) on Language Acquisition with the iPod. Here is Wes Fryer's 2009 blog entry on Kathy Shirley's project on Transforming Reading and Language Acquisition using iPods.
There is a need for a web-based version of using audio this way (requiring just a microphone and Internet connection). I also think we need an easy way to record reflections. Before students can easily write, they can talk. How can we manage all of these audio files in an online repository, all dated and organized for easy retrieval, and embedding into a blog or ePortfolio page? Can it be made easy enough for a Kindergarten student to manage, but still sophisticated enough for adult learners? Just dreaming... and hoping.
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Saturday, April 10, 2010

ePortfolio Apps Needed?

Today, I received the following email message from a graduate student in the UK:
I am very interested in the mobile application development we have discussed and intend to make it the focus of my research.
I will be developing for the iPad, iPod, iPhone platform initially.

Just a thought, do you think the greatest need currently is for apps which connect to an ePortfolio such as: Wordpress, Blogger, Google Docs or similar, to enable uploading, editing and reflection of digital content? 
Or, is there also a need for a standalone mobile ePortfolio app?
Here is my response:

There are many purposes for ePortfolios, that require different types of tools (learning/reflection, showcase/employment, assessment/accountability). There are also many portfolio processes to be supported by different tools: creating/authoring digital content, collecting my work, reflecting on that work, selecting (hyperlinking or embedding) that work into my presentation portfolio, writing goals, presenting my work, getting feedback, etc.

With Web 2.0, an ePortfolio is really an aggregator of my work that is stored at many places online: video in video sharing sites like YouTube, Vimeo,, etc.; images in Flickr, Picasa; documents in GoogleDocs,, or lots of other locations; audio in Myna, etc. What we lack is an aggregator. We need a database to keep track of our online content, sort of like a database that we can use to organize our personal content, wherever it resides on the web. If you look at the report that was written by Ian Fox in NZ, a database of personal/academic content, that can be meta-tagged, is the missing link.

I imagine something that acts like my Macintosh in Garage Band or iMovie or Keynote, where I pull up Media, and it shows me my photos in iPhoto, my movies, my iTunes files, etc. I can select that piece of content and insert it into my document. We need a Web 2.0 equivalent, so that I can get to my content wherever it is stored online. What I need is not to insert the actual content, but to be presented with a choice of a hyperlink or an embed code that I can copy and paste into whatever presentation portfolio I am using. Right now, I have to do this task manually, link by link. For me, that is the need: a content management system for Cloud content, that is accessible on a website using any browser or mobile app. We can upload all kinds of data to the Web from our mobile devices... how do we organize all of this content?

Electronic Portfolio Components

Above is a diagram of eportfolio components as described in BECTA and JISC reports, and you will see where there is a need to organize the Digital Repository: online space to store resources and an archive of evidence.  I have also defined the Two Faces of ePortfolios, which are the workspace (reflection + archive/collection) and showcase (presentation+feedback). Most of the commercial tools organize the showcase... no one independently organizes the workspace right now (except what I do on my own in my blog or in a spreadsheet/matrix). And it needs to be easy enough for a 3rd grader to use! Maybe I'm thinking about a version of the MyLifeBits research that Microsoft conducted around "life store" of data.

So, we'd love some input: what type of apps are needed to support ePortfolio development using mobile devices with access to the Internet?

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Writing this message at 30,000+ feet on my way to GSO via ORD while watching a podcast on my ipad. It was fun walking into the Seattle airport and logging into free wifi almost instantly. I also like the ability to prop up the ipad on my tray with the Apple case I bought. Now reading one of the books I downloaded, with letters at least one inch high. Maybe these middle-aged eyes won't be as tired when I land. I just wish it had a way to edit Word docs. I can send myself an email with text I am composing, but can't integrate it into a Word doc until I use my laptop. I have to remember that the ipad is not a laptop replacement. I would like it to be, but not yet.

Interesting article online about the rumored HP Slate running Windows 7 with 32 GB of storage for $550. If it runs GoogleDocs, it would be worth it, although a basic netbook costs $300. I'm sure this market will be interesting over the next year.

Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Learning my new iPad

Yes, I waited in line yesterday to pick up the 16GB iPad I reserved. Daughter posted some Twitpix last night. Spent the afternoon exploring capabilities of my new iPad. I sent a long email and learned to type on the screen with my finger pads, trying to avoid my fingernails (not easy). I bought a Bluetooth keyboard, but am trying to get used to the keyboard.

I have been exploring the apps. I responded to a blog post using Safari, but couldn't scroll through the comment field beyond what I could see on the screen (no scroll bars or arrow keys on the keyboard). I created a blog post with the WordPress App (after figuring out how to publish) and am sending this entry to Blogger as an eMail. Tweetdeck works great. I am using the old Facebook app (not ready to pay for one). I am finding that the games I like on the iPhone are different on the iPad. Easier on the eyes, but harder on the arms (reaching with arms, not fingers). I am trying to limit the games, anyways.

So far, the major deficiency is Google Docs. I can read documents, but not edit them. In my long spreadsheets, I can't scroll to data that is off the screen (I can scroll and do minor editing on my iPhone). Haven't tried Google Sites yet. As a media consumption tool, it looks like a dream. But in education, that is not the model we want to perpetuate. Yes, I can see the potential for textbooks in this format, but I want to be able to use cloud computing tools for content development, not having to buy iWork for this iPad. I know this is just the first day, but if it is going to be more than a print/paper replacement, we need to be able to use online content development tools. Of course, I want to see how it can be used to develop and maintain e-portfolios! Since I will be attending the ADE Institute this summer, where we will focus on Mobile Technologies, I hope to explore these issues further.

Sent from my iPad