Sunday, January 17, 2010


My Wish List for Audio in Google Docs

Now that we can Upload Anything into Google Docs, I have a wish list for more upgrades. I want to be able to embed and play audio files that I store in my Google Docs account, not just download them. As indicated in my last blog entry, I was able to embed an uploaded MP3 on a Google Sites page, but it wasn't easy. I'm looking for a gadget to embed stored audio as easily as embedding a YouTube video. I want Google Docs to generate an embed code, not just a link to download an MP3. Or give me a menu item in Google Sites.

I realize there is the potential for copyright abuse with MP3s, but I want to be able to create audio narrations to go along with the other artifacts in a portfolio. Students learning to speak another language need an easy way to capture spoken evidence of their learning. Of course, the user interface is also an issue, since it is usually young children who can talk about their learning before they can write about it... or collect reading samples, now sometimes done with iPods... so it needs to be easy enough for elementary teachers and students to use.

Even better, a built-in tool like Myna would be terrific, that would allow someone to record a narration that would get embedded on a page! The first e-portfolio tool that I ever used (the Grady Profile originally written in Hypercard) had the built-in ability to record audio (specifically reading samples). That was 1991! I don't know of any web-based e-portfolio tool with the ability to capture audio directly (rather than uploading a pre-recorded audio file). Right now, we often use Audacity for recording to our computers, exporting the audio clip to MP3, uploading/embedding the clip into whatever e-portfolio system we are using... a lot of steps. As we move to cloud computing, we need more simple cloud-based tools that don't rely on desktop applications.

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Wednesday, October 07, 2009


The Digital Down Low

Just saw this link on a New Zealand listserv. Great resource on using GoogleApps for ePortfolios.
Also a nice video to introduce ePortfolios to students (the author, Matt Montagne of Palo Alto, quoted my Google blog entry... several times!):

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Official Google Docs Blog entry

I just wrote a guest blog entry on the Official Google Docs Blog on Electronic Portfolios in GoogleApps. It was an interesting process... trying to compress my thoughts into 500 words! But we used a shared Google Doc document that currently has 597 revisions! It was fun to edit a document with someone who really understands the collaborative editing capabilities of Google Docs.

Also made it on the Google Student blog as Creating your digital resume. I've been given a lot of titles (ePortfolio guru, the grandmother of ePortfolios) but on Twitter today there was a first: ePortfolio jedi master!

Another 15 minutes of fame on the Internet! And another public mention of writing a book... I guess I need to get it written!

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Saturday, August 29, 2009


Google Apps/Sites updates

It just gets better and better! For a large company, Google is very responsive to making upgrades to its software. Now we can transfer Google sites between owners (i.e., from an education domain to a personally owned Google account). Now, ePortfolios created in one domain can be transferred to another! That is just what we have been waiting for! Now these ePortfolios can be transferred between accounts, making these sites as portable as blogs! They also improved the Announcements page.
In July, Google also announced changes to the Navigation Bar in Google Sites, to automatically generate links to pages as they are created (the option needs to be set for sites created prior to July 2009: More Actions -> Manage Site -> Site Layout ->edit [Navigation] -> Automatically organize my navigation). They also allowed more flexibility in HTML coding embedded in Google Sites pages.
In the last entry, Google announced a new attachment section was added to the Google Sites management section for easier management of all uploaded attachments to Google Sites. Now you can see all attachments and which page they appear! Very useful for an ePortfolio. I wonder if you can generate a link to an attachment from another page?
(Thanks to Kathy Schrock's tweets for keeping me current on these changes. Her recent blog entry on how her district is implementing GoogleApps is very insightful.)

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Tuesday, June 02, 2009


Signed a book contract today

Over the years, I have had an avoidance of book publishing... I've canceled two book contracts over the last ten years. With the #1 website on "electronic portfolios" (based on a Google search using that term), I've wondered whether writing a book in the age of Web 2.0 was an oxymoron. With the changing nature of the Internet, wouldn't a book be quickly outdated? I'm glad I didn't publish the book I outlined ten years ago, since my vision has changed radically since that time.

Well, today I signed a book contract with the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) for a book on ePortfolios, focusing on K-12 students and teachers at all levels of their careers. The content will focus on creating student-centered interactive portfolios using generic Web 2.0 tools and processes. I have a lot of the components already on my website and written in this blog over the last five years. I feel like a sculptor... all I have to do is cut away all of the irrelevant stone/words and the statue/book will emerge! I intend to develop the book around themes of interactivity, reflection, engagement, and my vision of Balancing the Two Faces of ePortfolios.

So, I have seven months to write the first draft of the book! I am looking for case studies from across the world on using Web 2.0 tools for ePortfolios. I am also looking for a few good teachers who would like to implement the portfolio process using "safe" Web 2.0 tools, primarily GoogleApps for Education sites set up as "walled gardens" to protect student privacy. I am also willing to work with schools who have adopted other Web 2.0 tools to implement ePortfolios. I would provide training and then regularly observe some "real life" classrooms implementing ePortfolios using these tools across the age span: primary, intermediate, junior high and high school.

I am interested in finding teachers who are already familiar with the paper-based portfolio process, and who are already comfortable with the use of technology, who would be willing to work with me on implementing ePortfolios over the next school year. I would work with appropriate IT staff and a handful of teachers in their classrooms, on a mutually-agreed-upon schedule, to establish the free Web 2.0 services, and integrate ePortfolios throughout the school year, including student-led conferences, where appropriate. We could collaborate virtually over the Internet, or face-to-face in the Puget Sound area of Washington state.

Interested? Send me an email!

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Sunday, April 26, 2009


Student Examples from Google

Last fall, Google asked teachers to share some examples of how they used Google Docs in their classrooms. I was especially impressed with Google's page on Senior year-long projects demonstrating the use of Google Sites as a process journal/e-portfolio by a couple of students doing internships at Blue Ridge Virtual High School.
Matt Dermody’s journal
Ryan Minnick’s journal

In Ryan's Google Site you will find a set of Help videos covering the process of creating a Google Site. I am also impressed with the summary of his journal embedded on his first page, linked to his journal on another page that was created with the Announcements page type. The journal is a great example of documenting a project over time using this tool (although there is no feedback or dialogue). I just want to learn what Gadget he used to embed the journal on his first page! Something to add to my page of instructions! I also noticed that he embedded Vimeo videos on the page. I thought you were limited to using YouTube or Google Video. More to learn!

Update: I figured out the Announcements... there is an Insert... Recent Posts Gadget, and you can select which Announcements page in the site and how many entries to summarize. I inserted a calendar and my demo posts on the first page of my Google Sites portfolio. Pretty cool!

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Monday, April 06, 2009


GoogleApps for K-12 ePortfolios

I've been working with K-12 educators on implementing ePortfolios. I am seeing more attention being paid to GoogleApps, as evidenced in an email I received today:
We are starting a “21st Century Learning Academy” in our district with our upcoming 6th graders next year and we are going to require our 6th graders and staff to create digital portfolios of their work. We have experimented with Google Sites/Apps already this year as we used it to create our school’s portfolio... As we worked on this portfolio, we learned how easily we could use this as a tool for 6th graders to showcase and reflect on their work.
I just set up a Google Group on developing electronic portfolios in K-12 using Google Apps:
* Group name: Using Google Apps for ePortfolios in K-12 Education
* Group home page:
* Group email address
I am hoping that other K-12 educators can join the group, and share their experiences developing ePortfolios with these free online tools. I recommend that if schools decide to use GoogleApps, they establish their own Google Apps for Education site, with their own domain name, as a quasi "walled garden" where student work can only be viewed by someone with an account within that domain.
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