Monday, June 30, 2008

 

Google at NECC 2008

I am at the 2008 National Educational Computing Conference (NECC) and attended a session conducted by two Google employees. In the Q&A after the session, I had the opportunity to ask the following question: "When am I going to be able to use my GMail space to store plain old documents?" The two of them whispered something to each other and then said something about having a policy not to talk about when unannounced products would be available. But then they said something like "Soon!" Hmmm...

On Sunday, I did a day-long workshop on Web 2.0 Tools for Classroom-Based Assessment and Interactive Student ePortfolios. We started with a blog and them moved to Google tools (GoogleDocs Documents for creating artifacts, GoogleDocs Spreadsheet for creating a table to keep track of artifacts, GoogleDocs Presentation to create a linear presentation portfolio, and Google Pages to create a hyperlinked portfolio (without the interactivity of the GoogleDocs tools). One of the participants, who had been playing with the Zoho tools, and especially the Zoho Notebook, tried the Google Sites tools (released in February) and found it to meet his needs better than the other tool. I will need to try the Sites tool when I get home.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

 

New article from ECAR

The Educause Center for Applied Research just published a new Research Bulletin: Web 2.0, Personal Learning Environments, and the Future of Learning Management Systems.
This ECAR research bulletin details the arguments emerging in the blogosphere and elsewhere both for and against the learning management system. It examines whether the LMS is destined to continue as the primary means of organizing the online learning experience for university students. The bulletin is a companion to an earlier ECAR research bulletin that examines the factors leading to the selection of the open source learning management system at the Open University in the United Kingdom.
The article was written by Niall Sclater, Director of the Virtual Learning Environment Programme at the Open University in the U.K. A small part of the article discussed the role of two different ePortfolio systems being used in the OU: Mahara (developed in New Zealand) and MyStuff (developed in-house by the Open University).

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

 

A bilingual storytelling workshop

Yesterday, I finished a digital storytelling workshop with a group of high school teachers in Monterrey, Mexico. It was a wonderful experience. Many of them created their stories in English although for most of them, it was their second language. I am convinced that the value is in the digital storytelling process, regardless of the tools we used (MovieMaker2 and Audacity). Now I am doing a Web 2.0 ePortfolio workshop for the next 2 1/2 days. This is my third trip to Mexico in the last six months. I'm started to learn Spanish, but it is tough at my age! I'm so glad that I am mostly working with English teachers!

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

 

Web 2.0 & commercial ePortfolios

On June 1, Campus Computing published another article on ePortfolios and Web 2.0, entitled "Unleashing the Power of Web 2.0," which highlighted some of the work of Washington State University and their use of SharePoint. It also discussed the continuum of ePortfolios as Personal Learning Environments (PLE--on the learner-centered end), and ePortfolios as Assessment Management Systems (AMS--on the institution-centered end). The article discussed the Evolution of Web 2.0 and the ePortfolio, and reported on discussions with three ePortfolio vendors (Digication, Angel Learning, and Desire2Learn) and the adaptations that they are making to their commercial systems in response to the Web 2.0 technologies. One of the ironies of this discussion is that free Web 2.0 technologies could be a threat to some of the commercial tools, since students could replicate ePortfolio/PLE functions of many of the commercial tools using these Web 2.0 tools. Accumulating institutional accountability data (AMS) is the real value added of many of the other commercial tools not mentioned in the article. The real value of Web 2.0 tools is for the students to create an ePortfolio that they can own and modify across the lifespan, gaining valuable lifelong learning skills that they can use once they leave higher education. That is the value of the WSU model using SharePoint, and other places using other types of social software for ePortfolios (blogs, wikis, Google tools, etc.)

The author of this Campus Technology article also published an earlier article, "ePortfolios Meet Social Software" which discusses some of the "stickiness" issues with ePortfolios, and the interest in the "own-it-for-life model" of implementation.

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Saturday, June 07, 2008

 

Microsoft-Holland America partnership

My dream job has shown up! Too bad I'm too busy to apply! According to PRWire, "Holland America Line and Microsoft Introduce Onboard Digital Workshops.... Guests learn digital photography and video editing, blogging, and Web skills while cruising." It reminds me of the cruises that I took to Europe in 2006 and through the Panama Canal in 2007. I kept a blog during both cruises. In 2006, I had the time to learn Apple's iWeb; in 2007, I kept a simple Blogger blog. The 2006 blog was much more visual, but the 2007 blog was much easier to produce and took a lot less online time to upload (Internet time on cruise ships is pretty expensive). I would love to see how they are implementing the program. Maybe another Holland America cruise should be on my horizon!

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Learning about ePortfolios

Last week, I added a new page to my website: Learning about Electronic Portfolios. I converted the "open source" MOSEP course, created by the Salzburg Research Forschungsgesellschaft under a European Commission grant, into HTML format (I found their wiki hard to navigate, and impossible to link to specific pages within the course). After I finished, I discovered the PDF version of their course materials online, but it is still impossible to link to specific lessons in the course! I also posted the course that I have been constructing about Web 2.0 Tools for Lifelong & Life Wide Learning. The course includes "Portfolio Pointers" on how to use the different Web 2.0 tools to construct an online portfolio "mashup".

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Multimedia Biographies as externalized memory prosthetic

My colleague Don Presant from Winnipeg, Manitoba, sent me a link to a podcast from the CBC: multimedia biographies for the memory challenged or ePortfolio as "externalized memory" prosthetic, a research project being undertaken at the University of Toronto. (http://www.cbc.ca/spark/blog/2008/06/episode_40_june_4_7_2008_1.html -- starting at 19 minutes into the podcast)

By coincidence at the same time, Serge Ravet, my colleague with Eifel, was attending a conference in Aix-en-Provence in France on the theme "plus longue la vie" (longer the life) which is about linking innovative technologies with a longer (and possibly, better) life.

http://fing.org/jsp/fiche_actualite.jsp?STNAV=&RUBNAV=&CODE=1209995525933&LANGUE=0&RH=PRESENTATIONFING

Don also provided me with further information: it's part of a wide series of research initiatives that go beyond prosthesis to "rehabilitative or restorative devices to enhance cognition, and even as preventative or treatment devices able to slow the rate at which cognitive impairments develop."
"A second research project, in collaboration with Dr. Elsa Marziali, Schippers Chair of Social Work at Baycrest, is producing multimedia biographies for pilot cohorts of persons with early-stage or mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease. We collaborate with the AD individual, the caregiver, and other family members in collecting a life history through media such as music, photos, interviews, and narrated videos (Cohene et al. 2004, 2006). Early findings suggest that the biographies serve to reinforce a positive self-identity and bring joy and some calming to the AD individual. The biographies also provide benefits to family members such as better remembering how their loved one once was and being better able to accept the disease. A grant from the U.S. Alzheimer’s Association (2004-7) is funding the development and evaluation of 10-12 multimedia biographies. We are including several individuals with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) as part of this study."
As I begin to explore the lifelong and life-wide applications of this technology, these two research projects provide very interesting examples of how digital stories, produced with families for the benefit of their elderly relatives, has the potential for making these last years of life more bearable, especially for the surviving family members. You might call it the digital equivalent of the movie, "The Notebook"!

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Friday, June 06, 2008

 

Sharepoint Example from WSU

I received a comment on a previous blog entry that I would like to highlight here, with a graduate student's portfolio created with WSU's SharePoint service.
I attend WSU and am a grad student. I use Sharepoint to host my ePortfolio and I think it covers all the needed functions. It is dynamic and very useful.
Here is a link to my ePortfolio if you'd like to see an example:
https://mysite.wsu.edu/personal/mkushin/e-portfolio/default.aspx

Also, I've created some instructional material for creating ePortfolios in MS Sharepoint. Feel free to check them out and share with anyone who could use them!
https://mysite.wsu.edu/personal/mkushin/com420/LR/SitePages/ePortfolio_instructions.aspx?PageView=Shared

Hope to hear from you,
Matt Kushin
http://interrobangblog.blogspot.com/
Thanks, Matt!

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