Thursday, October 28, 2010

PrPl and PCB: a new e-portfolio environment in the cloud?

Stanford University has been doing research on e-portfolios for more than ten years, and the latest article by Kim, Ng, and Lim provides the most interesting framework I have seen: PrPl Semantic Index and Personal Cloud Butler (PCB). It matches my concept of the Digital Archive for Life (2009)

This article (in the British Journal of Educational Technology, Volume 41, Issue 6, pages 1018–1028, November 2010) is pretty exciting: "When cloud computing meets with Semantic Web: A new design for e-portfolio systems in the social media era."  The abstract:
The need, use, benefit and potential of e-portfolios have been analysed and discussed by a substantial body of researchers in the education community. However, the development and implementation approaches of e-portfolios to date have faced with various challenges and limitations. This paper presents a new approach of an e-portfolio system design based on Private–Public (PrPl) data index system, which integrates cloud computing applications and storages with Semantic Web architecture, making semantic web-based visualisation and advanced intelligent search possible. It also discusses how the distinctive attributes of the PrPl-based digital asset management system can serve as a large-scale robust e-portfolio system that can address issues with scalability, sustainability, adoptability and interoperability. With such a new distinctive design, a large-scale deployment at a state or national level becomes possible at a very cost-effective manner and also such large-scale deployment with intelligent digital asset management and search features create numerous opportunities in education.
The following article about the Personal Cloud Butler (PCB) is referenced in the document, "A Distributed Social-Networking Infrastructure with Personal-Cloud Butlers."

The PrPl/PCB system uses the mobile phone number as the unique user ID, which restricts its use in K-12 schools, since students don't often have phones until they are in high school... but there are also Google Voice numbers!

I recently started using It is an aggregator for a person's financial data. In my account, I see all of my financial data aggregated in one window: my TSA, checking and savings accounts, mortgage balance, assets, loan balances, and my brokerage account (if I had one!). The system pulls data from these different accounts (with my permission, of course) to provide an overall picture of my financial capital or monetary assets. The system is created by the makers of Quicken, and uses an email address as a unique user ID.

We need a similar system for human capital or intellectual assets of knowledge workers. Some think that tool is an online vita with hyperlinks. Others think it is an e-portfolio, although I believe an e-portfolio goes beyond the "accounting" function, and the portfolio process supports the development of these competencies (knowledge/skills/abilities). That's why I think this article is so interesting. We can store our evidence in many places online (a federated cloud-based storage system); we just need a tool to aggregate that data for different purposes and different audiences.

Of course, there are a lot of e-portfolio systems which match evidence of achieving outcomes defined by any number of rubrics, aggregating faculty-generated assessment data. The challenge is that these systems impose a structure that often doesn't facilitate learner creativity and personalization. But other systems have been set up to "harvest" assessment data from learner-owned web-based portfolios, such as WSU's Harvesting Gradebook or BSU's rGrade system. Right now, these systems are server-based, and it would be great if they were converted into SaaS, available in the cloud.

I am doing a lot of training in using GoogleApps Education Edition for student portfolios in K-12 schools: artifacts stored in Google Docs/Picasa/YouTube (a PrPl database would be useful here); a reflective journal in Blogger; and thematically-organized presentation portfolios in Google Sites, especially for those states and institutions that have "gone Google." What is also missing from that whole environment is a system to collect evaluation data based on rubrics. For me, that is another missing link in using some of these Web 2.0 tools for learner-centered e-portfolios while assessing learner outcomes against rubrics.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Electronic Portfolios in STEM

In preparation for my participation in the STEMTech Conference next week in Orlando, I prepared a two-page definition of e-portfolios for use in round table discussions. It may be too late to make any changes, but I would love some feedback.
Eport Definition

Here are the source documents referenced in this definition document:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

ePortfolios for Managing Oneself and Portfolio Careers

On Monday and Tuesday, I attended a Conference on Advising Highly Talented Undergraduates, held at Notre Dame University. On the first day, Dr. Richard Light of Harvard University provided the opening keynote address on the Challenges for Advising Highly Talented Undergraduates. He mentioned an article by Peter Drucker entitled, "Managing Oneself" published in the Harvard Business Review in 1999. I found several copies of the article through an iPhone Google search, and downloaded it. The purpose for the article struck a cord with me:
“Success in the knowledge economy comes to those who know themselves
– their strengths, their values, and how best they perform.”
We live in an age of unprecedented opportunity: If you've got ambition and smarts, you can rise to the top of your chosen profession, regardless of where you started out. 
But with opportunity comes responsibility. Companies today aren't managing their employees' careers; knowledge workers must, effectively, be their own chief executive officers. It's up to you to carve out your place, to know when to change course, and to keep yourself engaged and productive during a work life that may span some 50 years. To do those things well, you'll need to cultivate a deep understanding of yourself-- not only what your strengths and weaknesses are but also how you learn, how you work with others, what your values are, and where you can make the greatest contribution. Because only when you operate from strengths can you achieve true excellence.
Here is where an ePortfolio can provide an ongoing environment where individuals can develop and manage their own personal SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats). The article contains the following sections:
  • What are my strengths?
  • How do I perform?
  • What are my values?
  • Where do I belong?
  • What should I contribute?
  • Responsibility for Relationships
  • The Second Half of your Life
I can see a powerful purpose for ePortfolios: managing knowledge workers' career development, from high school through late career. There is another opportunity: managing "portfolio careers." As I was preparing for my closing keynote at this conference, I explored websites that focused on Portfolio Careers:
I also found this video that encapsulated some of the key elements of portfolio careers:
Next Generation Journalist: Nick Williams from Adam Westbrook on Vimeo.

"Today, security means being employable, even if you don't have a job." The speaker talks about the concept of personal branding: "everyone needs to know what they are uniquely brilliant at… what they're passionate about, what they love doing, and what they're good at doing, and then finding people who want to hire them at that.

Slides for my keynote presentation are posted on Slideshare.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Workshop Backchannel and Recording Audio Reflections

On Friday, October 15, I worked with faculty from Mt. San Antonio College in the Los Angeles area, with colleagues John Ittelson and Jeffrey Yan. The workshop was an Introduction to Electronic Portfolios, with John and I providing an overview in the morning, and Jeffrey conducted a hands-on workshop in the afternoon with Digication. It was fun to collaborate with two other ePortfolio colleagues. We set up a document as a "back channel" for the workshop, used the page to post a lot of hyperlinked resources, and invited the participants to post questions throughout the workshop. While John and I were presenting in the morning, Jeffrey answered a lot of the questions that were posted. In the afternoon, I added more resource links. When we were through, the participants had a page of resources to use as a reference. It was the second time that week that I used that tool for group collaboration and feedback.

Jeff shared a great idea for doing audio reflections, that one of the users of his system shared: Google Voice. In the privacy of his car, this teacher called his Google Voice number and left, as a voice mail message, his reflection on his class. Google Voice saves the message in MP3 format, which can be download and included in his portfolio. Once recorded, if he didn't like what he heard, he would record another message. It took some practice, but it is an easy way to record audio for an ePortfolio reflection. Other tools we discussed for audio recording reflections: (includes an iOS or Android app).

Thursday, October 14, 2010

High Tech High

I have spent the last two days visiting High Tech High in San Diego, talking with teachers, administrators and students, and visiting two different courses for teachers. I still have some more time to visit with a few more people and to debrief with their Director of Research, but I realize that I learned a lot more than how they are implementing DPs (digital portfolios) with their students; I also learned a lot about their philosophy of personalizing learning for a diverse student body. Since the school opened in 2001, every student has maintained a digital portfolio, which is used to support their POL (Presentation of Learning) twice a year and their TPOL (Transitional Presentation of Learning) at the end of the year as the student's rationale as to why they are ready for the next grade (or ready to graduate?). Even more important, every teacher has a digital portfolio, but some of them use these websites more like an instructional management system, as a resource for students. Some of the more impressive teacher portfolios showcase the project-based learning at the core of the school philosophy.

There is technical support in each building as well as a system-wide IT Director. The entire system adopted Google Apps over a year ago with over 4,000 accounts mapped to their Active Directory, and also has a WordPress server; these tools are used for different purposes in the program. Here is a school that matches my three-level model:
  • Level 1. portfolio as storage (collection of artifacts)--Everyone has server space, with a folder called MyDP to store their portfolio, or a file that links to a portfolio developed on another server. The school also has three video servers, controlled by the teachers.
  • Level 2. portfolio as workspace (collection plus reflection/metacognition, organized chronologically)--The school has a WordPress server and many teachers have their students use WordPress blogs for day-to-day assignments and reflections.
  • Level 3. portfolio as showcase (selection, summative reflection and presentation, organized thematically)--Many teachers and students are moving from their original Dreamweaver-based DP over to Google Sites. These portfolios support student-led conferences (SLC)--which I observed--and the public Presentations of Learning
Four design principles underlie the work of High Tech High: personalization, adult world connection, common intellectual mission, teacher as designer. There are actually nine schools in the San Diego area; I only visited two of them. I will be writing up a more in-depth case study for my book, as the high school example. I asked one group of students how the public nature of their DPs and POLs impacted their learning. As one student said:
I want that work to be good. I know I'm up to it... It makes you want to understand what you're learning... My DP helps me self-reflect. I could update it daily. I self-reflect on how well I do. I learn from myself as well. I see my strengths; I see my weaknesses and how I can improve. I work harder to do better.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

ISTE 2011 Proposals

In a late night writing marathon, I submitted three proposals to ISTE 2011 in Philadelphia:
  • Presentation: Student-Centered Interactive ePortfolios with GoogleApps
    Create a comprehensive student-centered system supporting all three levels of ePortfolio development: Create/collaborate/store/share artifacts in GoogleDocs; Reflection/Feedback using blogging; Presentation Websites with GoogleSites. [this is my book adapted to the GoogleApps environment, similar to my 2010 presentation]
  • BYOL Presentation: mPortfolios: Make ePortfolio Development Easier with Mobile Devices
    Bring your mobile device (iOS or Android) to explore mPortfolio development. Create/upload artifacts (text, images, audio, video). Download free apps for blogging, GoogleApps, Mahara, others.
  • BYOL 3 hour Workshop: Hands-on mPortfolio Development with iOS devices (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad) Bring your mobile iOS device (iPhone, iPad, iPodTouch) to explore mPortfolio development. Create/upload artifacts (text, images, audio, video). Download free apps for blogging, GoogleApps, Mahara.
I only expect one of these proposals to be accepted. I set up a new Google Site to begin to develop the concept of mPortfolios. I was shocked that the Site name was still available:

Monday, October 11, 2010

ePortfolio California Summit

I participated in the ePortfolio California Summit, co-facilitating a session on Workplace portfolios (First job and beyond). It was my role to establish a common definition for e-portfolios in this session, and to provide a few ideas about using Web 2.0 tools to maintain career-long ePortfolios. The participants were from higher education institutions from throughout California. I introduced the team to Etherpad ( to replace flip charts in group brainstorming. In the afternoon, there were presentations from the Executive Director of WASC, and a report of the standards committee. 

Friday, October 08, 2010

Oregon Apps Google Summit

I visited Sherwood, Oregon to participate in the first Oregon Google Summit. I set up a new web page with my presentations (in GoogleDocs) and links to my video. I also set up a page on their website. I enjoyed meeting some of the educators in Oregon who are leading this effort, plus a few people from Google who led technical sessions. My "aha" moment: the fact that Folders in GoogleDocs are really tags that can be used to classify documents; single Docs can be tagged to multiple folders without making multiple copies. This concept is different from how we manage files on our computers or server space, which will require a different level of explanation. But it allows portfolio artifacts to be tagged in folders for individual classes (collection), and then also tagged to a Portfolio folder (selection) which can be shared with a teacher. See this Google blog entry by a high school teacher.

My proposals to the Northwest Council for Computer Education conference in March 2011 have been approved:
  • Presentation: GoogleApps ePortfolios
    Oregon was the first state to adopt GoogleApps for all K-12 schools. These powerful tools are ready-made for teachers and students to maintain electronic portfolios. Get an overview of creating artifacts using Google Docs and Picasa, a reflective learning portfolio using Blogger, and a showcase/assessment/presentation portfolio with Google Sites.
  • 3-hour Workshop: Create ePortfolios using GoogleApps
    Oregon was the first state to adopt GoogleApps for all K-12 schools. These powerful tools are ready-made for creating and maintaining electronic portfolios by teachers and students. Learn how to create  artifacts using Google Docs and Picasa, a reflective learning portfolio using Blogger, and a showcase/assessment/presentation portfolio with Google Sites. (March 3, 2011, 8:30 AM)

Thursday, October 07, 2010

New ePortfolio online publications

I have been collecting some new articles on ePortfolios in my account. Here are some of the most interesting:
  • The Complexity of Implementing e-Portfolios
    Lisa Gray (JISC) and Gordon Joyes (University of Nottingham) spoke about the complexities involved in implementing e-portfolios and the concepts that need to be understood to achieve a successful implementation. A model for e-portfolio implementation built around threshold concepts, misconceptions and pre-conceptions: The roles of Purpose, Learning Activity Design, Process, Ownership, and the Transformative and Disruptive nature of e-portfolios. Includes links to video of presentation at the Mahara UK 2010 conference.
  • Effective practice with e-portfolios: How can the UK experience inform practice? (PDF) Speaking of the Disruptive Nature of ePortfolios, this paper documents research by Gordon Joyes, Lisa Gray, and Elizabeth Hartnell-Young (Victoria Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, Australia). This paper introduces the background to the JISC work within the e-portfolio domain in the UK and presents an overview of past and current activities and the drivers for these developments. This is followed by a review of JISC’s approach at drawing out the learning and implications for e-portfolio practice from this extensive collection of work and its dissemination. The analysis of twenty one recently funded projects involving the use of e-portfolios in the UK is introduced. The findings suggest that e- portfolio implementation is particularly complex in part due to the number of stakeholders involved, the contexts in which e-portfolios can be applied and the number of purposes they can have. This research suggests that there are threshold concepts related to e-portfolio implementation and that the journey in developing an understanding of effective practice is not straightforward. However a means of supporting this journey is suggested.
  • The Accountability/Improvement Paradox- from Inside Higher Ed - "there is an inherent paradox in the relationship between assessment for accountability and for improvement."
I also found some interesting websites about K-12 ePortfolios:

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

bPortfolios at SPU

Seattle Pacific University has adopted as their students' "bPortfolio" system. Each student establishes their own account, and records their reflections in a blog entry. I attended a workshop yesterday that the faculty requested, to set up a account and see what the students are experiencing. Prior to a year ago, this university used one of the commercial ePortfolio tools. Since that time, although the transition has not always been smooth, they have provided good support materials, including video tutorials, and a good set of presentations on iTunesU on Reflective Learning with Electronic Portfolios recorded on March 23, 2010. I am especially impressed by the video on Metacognition: Reflective Thinking Strategies by Art Ellis, Director of the Center for Global Curriculum Studies, who discusses strategies for promoting student reflection on their learning process.

The students set up their site with Categories with represent the Standards that the students are required to demonstrate. All entries and a final meta-reflection are assigned a specific category. Students are also encouraged to assign their own tags to entries, and to include a Tag cloud in addition to the categories. The final entry is the meta-reflection or self-assessment of achieving the standard. Since the blog is organized in reverse chronological order, when selecting the category/standard, the meta-reflection is the first entry shown.

The question of accountability/assessment always comes up, and this institution is NCATE accredited. I have talked with the person at SPU who has set up an Excel spreadsheet template to share student portfolios with a designated assessor, who is paid separately to evaluate the student's self-evaluation.  I saw an example yesterday and basically it includes links to the students' bPortfolios, and space for an assessor to record evaluation of the students' self-assessment of their portfolio. The assessor opens the student's bPortfolio link in a their browser window, and records the evaluation in the Excel file. (I'll bet it could be done in a GoogleDocs spreadsheet, but I haven't tried to adapt it to an online format.) The rubrics are included in the spreadsheet document. The spreadsheet data from the separate assessors are then merged into a single spreadsheet and will be used for reporting and analysis.

Since I am teaching an online graduate course for SPU this quarter, I am able to see how this process works. All of the students had already set up their Wordpress accounts. My course requires them to write a weekly reflection in their bPortfolios on the weekly themes. So, I have an opportunity to see this process in action. There is lots of room for improvement, but as I said in an earlier blog entry last year,  "This Teacher Ed program has figured out how to balance the needs of the institution with the needs of their teacher candidates... who just might want to replicate the process with their own students... with tools that are free and available in schools."

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Collaboration in Online Course

This fall I am again teaching an online graduate class for Seattle Pacific University, Issues and Advances in Educational Technology. Like last year, I am trying to use open/free tools that students could use with their own students. So, we are using (to record and share weekly research of online resources related to the weekly theme), (to collaboratively reflect on the links shared and the weekly theme), blogs maintained on (to reflect on the learning for the week and provide feedback), Google Sites (to develop a collaborative project), Google Docs (sharing documents for feedback, and forms/spreadheet for weekly grades), and one of the digital storytelling tools (to develop a digital narrative).

Last year, we also set up a private Google Group to communicate with the students and to maintain a record of communication for the students. This year, however, I was asked by the university to use their Blackboard server for communication and grades. I must admit it made the beginning of the class much smoother (not having to get the students to sign up for the Google Group). However, one week into the class, I am feeling like there is less collaboration: the email is from me to the class, but there is no online record of the communication; when the students respond to my emails it goes to me not to the group, so the students can't support each other. It puts me at the center of the process, which I don't want or like. In the third week of the class, our topic is "collaboration" and I think I will move the class email over to another private Google group. We have also set up a "Ning-replacement" that we might use as an experiment. I might have the students use that site for discussions and my announcements in future weeks.

I have also noticed that the students' initial writing in looks like a series of short monologues (very much like a Blackboard discussion) rather than like a collaborative discussion. Old habits of online discussions are hard to break. But it is fun to explore these new tools with these graduate students. Each week we cover one of these themes: reflection, collaboration, 21st Century Learning, critical thinking, online safety, copyright, productivity, change, innovation. These themes correlate with the new Washington state Educational Technology Standards for students. My goal is that these future teachers are aware of these standards, and the many free tools that are available. I am finding that there are many perceived barriers, so it is interesting to explore the opportunities as well as the challenges!