Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Free Web Conferences available
I decided to offer these live conferences for two reasons: I really enjoy talking to teachers about ePortfolios (I learn a lot in the process), and the tools are now free for small groups. I've decided to offer the first conference to a school group for free, offering a follow-up ongoing professional development class for a fee, as I have offered in the past. I also want to pay back the Teacher Education community for the wonderful opportunity that I had for four years working under a PT3 grant.
Friday, January 19, 2007
Skype Video Conference with LatinCALL
At MacWorld, I also saw a demonstration of the new iChat in the next version of OS X, which would allow screen sharing with another Macintosh on the Internet. That looks like a great way to conduct these types of video presentations. However, until the rest of the world wakes up to the superiority of the Macintosh, there will be few opportunities to use this tool (can you tell that I am an Apple Distinguished Educator?). For now, I will use Skype and may try doing SkypeCasting.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Once I figured out how the Dashboard worked, and how I could develop my portfolio with blank templates, it was relatively straightforward. I was able to do basic text editing with the Rich Text Editor. I added all links using the software's edit links tool.
I was also able to create several versions of my portfolio and individual pages, and stitch them together for another view. There is a lot of flexibility with the authoring tools. There is also no data management tool, to aggregate assessment data. Therefore, this tool would work for formative assessment (providing teacher and peer feedback on student work) but not for summative assessment.
Epsilen ePortfolio tool
The software includes a blog and has elements of social networking built in. The ability to control who views each page can be controlled through customized access keys. Documents can be saved in files and folders, but the storage is limited to 75 MB. There is also no data management tool, to aggregate assessment data. Therefore, this tool would work for formative assessment (providing teacher and peer feedback on student work through the blog, QuickNotes, and an internal email system).
The user interface needs a little work. I had to figure out that to add additional pages to my portfolio (not the ones in their template) I had to select the Options Menu. The portfolio itself has a few other selections on the page that I did not put there (Access key, Login). However, it automatically generated the navigation bar on the left side of the window. Once I figured out how the basic software worked, it went pretty smoothly. If I wanted, I could change colors, but did not find any other design templates available.
One option that could be added is a Personal CMS toolset that features a complete Course Management System (CMS), offering tools such as Lessons, Chat, Drop Boxes, Grade Book, Course Mail, and Forums for discussion.
On the whole, the system let me work around its template structure, and create my own portfolio. It also offers a lot of additional features that I did not try.
Saturday, January 13, 2007
Apple's iPhone in Education?
As I look at this device through the lens of my current research interests, I wonder: Would Apple consider making a version that works without the phone service, but uses the device on a classroom network? I could imagine a lot of ways that this device could be used to enhance learning. Right now, schools are paranoid about cell phones, with many K12 schools banning their use. But these schools also filter the Internet, so that these devices could safely be put into the service of learning. Online simulations, games, learning objects, widgets, blogs, a built-in digital camera to collect images; the capabilities of this device could far exceed the way Palms are currently being used in education today. I could imagine many ways that this device could become the next 1-1 platform for learning. I also see a tool that will support the many stages of ePortfolio development, including collection and reflection.
What do you think?
Friday, January 05, 2007
A New Year
I have not yet reflected on the Time Magazine Person of the Year issue. I consider myself included in the designation "YOU" (anyone who posts content on the web--basically a recognition of the power of the many Web 2.0 technologies, but especially YouTube). I was also impressed by a few other blog entries that reflected on that issue, especially a discussion of how many schools block these Web 2.0 technologies at the time they show the most promise for improving education. Thank goodness DOPA is dead.
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