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?

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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!

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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

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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:
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?

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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

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