Sunday, March 28, 2010

 

WordPress and high school ePortfolios

D. S. Watts (teachwatts) has posted a series of blog entries this spring on using WordPress as a blog for her high school students. 

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

 

Ning and ePortfolios

I'm visiting an intermediate school in Auckland, New Zealand, observing how they are implementing e-portfolios school-wide. They have chosen to use a variety of Web 2.0 tools, but the student portfolios are stored behind passwords in a local LMS, KnowledgeNET. Their storage in this system is limited, so they are using a variety of Web 2.0 tools to store their artifacts; they post their videos in YouTube (this is a school that doesn't block most websites) and Ning. While they can't link to work posted on a Ning page (requires an account to read the page), they can get an Embed code for a video posted on a Ning account, and can embed that video into their portfolios. The teacher sets up one account per class, and the students use that account to post their videos. Very creative!

UPDATE April 15, 2010: Ning just announced they are eliminating their free accounts. What other "free" websites will pull a Ning? How can educators predict and protect their networks and data?

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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

 

National Educational Technology Plan

I found two references to electronic portfolios in the National Educational Technology Plan:
Technology also gives students opportunities for taking ownership of their learning. Student-managed electronic learning portfolios can be part of a persistent learning record and help students develop the self-awareness required to set their own learning goals, express their own views of their strengths, weaknesses, and achievements, and take responsibility for them. Educators can use them to gauge students’ development, and they also can be shared with peers, parents, and others who are part of students’ extended network. (p.12)
Later in the publication, the following statement appears:
Many schools are using electronic portfolios and other digital records of students’ work as a way to demonstrate what they have learned. Although students’ digital products are often impressive on their face, a portfolio of student work should be linked to an analytic framework if it is to serve assessment purposes. The portfolio reviewer needs to know what competencies the work is intended to demonstrate, what the standard or criteria for competence are in each area, and what aspects of the work provide evidence of meeting those criteria. Definitions of desired outcomes and criteria for levels of accomplishment can be expressed in the form of rubrics. (p.34)
Is there some dissonance between these two statements? How will the two approaches (a student-managed learning portfolio and an analytical framework...to serve assessment purposes) co-exist? Or will we need to use two different environments: One that is student-centered, that allows personalization and communication, and another that can be used to hyperlink into student portfolios to "harvest" assessment data, without interfering with the student-centered representation of learning? Please?

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Friday, March 05, 2010

 

XO-3

This looks pretty exciting! Available in 2012 for under $100? One Laptop Per Child Version 3.
Flickr Slide Show

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Saturday, February 27, 2010

 

Mumbai Musings

My meetings with teachers and my e-portfolio workshops are all over at the ASB Unplugged International One-to-One [laptop] Learning Conference in Mumbai, India. Heading for New York late tomorrow night... will be traveling for 26+ hours, from the time we leave our hotel at midnight until we get to Newark. It's been a wonderful nearly two weeks here in India. No health problems (other than my arthritic knee). Lots of new friends from all over the world. Hope to come back.

Wonderful work being done in this international school, and many others. They have a vision for integrating technology across the curriculum, for meaningful learning. I am even more convinced that this is the way to go to really change our educational system, especially after seeing a group of 3rd graders showing their Google Sites e-portfolios to a lot of adults in a presentation yesterday... with such poise and self-confidence. They and their talented teachers are leading the way developing e-portfolios in this school, and I've been privileged to work with them this school year... so inspiring to see my ideas in action modified with their practical strategies in the reality of their classrooms.

This school is going to be one of the case studies in the book I am writing. I was in the 3rd grade classrooms on Thursday, and had an opportunity to talk with students in one class, and observe the students showing their portfolios in all three classrooms. Then I attended the presentation of the threeteachers, with the assistance of about 20 of their students, who took their laptops (they each have their own) throughout the room, sharing their portfolios with a lot of strangers (most of them teachers or administrators from International Schools from Europe and Asia). It was inspiring!

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

 

Exciting week in Brooklyn

I was in Brooklyn all week, conducting workshops for the New York City Schools, Office of Education Technology for South Brooklyn, Staten Island. I knew they were interested in electronic portfolios, because I had email communication since last spring. We held our first training this week, showing teachers how to create their own portfolios with Google Docs and Google Sites. The first two-day workshop was held Monday and Tuesday, and was overflowing (we moved to a larger room the second day). The second workshop was supposed to begin on Wednesday, but was postponed for a day because of the snowstorm that hit the New York area. I heard about 50 MPH winds hitting the Empire State Building, knocking out satellite dishes for cable TV, but it was just snow in Brooklyn. I had a day off, and postponed my flight to return later on Friday.

I am impressed with the interest in e-portfolios in this program. It is also refreshing to see the emphasis on teaching portfolios as well as student portfolios… that to really appreciate the process, teachers need to construct their own portfolios before trying to implement them with students. I am also impressed with their commitment to learning portfolios for students, not for accountability. I am interested in being able to demonstrate the value of formative, self-assessment portfolios before they might get co-opted for summative assessment.

I just found out that New York City Schools is adopting a combination of ePals (for student mail and collaboration) with GoogleApps (minus GMail) next year. That makes the training that I did this week very relevant for them. They are also looking for schools in other parts of the world to collaborate. As more educational institutions adopt Google Apps, they have a ready tool for building interactive portfolios.

I'll be back in March (on my way back from India), and will be working under a different grant, where I will focus on e-portfolios as professional development environments for teachers (online personal learning environments).

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

 

Portfolio Visualization

Nick Rate, educator and portfolio deep thinker from New Zealand, posted some simple, elegant diagrams on his blog: http://nickrate.com/2009/12/02/portfolio-visualisation/ These simple graphics help explain the progress of portfolio ownership and purpose over the school years.

There is something about these simple diagrams that help to explain a complex process. He also published a more recent blog entry that helps explain the inquiry process: http://nickrate.com/2009/12/06/inquiry-visualisation/

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

 

A Wonderful Week in Istanbul

We just finished a wonderful four days at Enka Schools in Istanbul, working with 4th & 5th grade teachers on ePortfolios, and a few of their students developing digital stories... in English, their second language! They were wonderful, very short stories about themselves or their best friends, and their enthusiasm was energizing. They have new skills to enrich their ePortfolios, now in Powerpoint, but soon they will explore more interactive tools, on their own WordPress server.

It was an interesting experience having all of my presentations translated... forcing me to slow down, reduce my content to the most critical elements. An interesting insight: There is no word for REFLECTION in Turkish, so they had to use a version of "thinking about your thinking/learning."

On Saturday, we had a tour of the historical center of Istabul. Now we are getting ready to leave for Spain. More later... with photos!

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Thursday, October 08, 2009

 

Another ePortfolio video

This 3-minute video was created by Sònia Guilana,  to explain eportfolios to her high school students (12-18) in Catalonia, Spain. Great images! Nice, simple explanation.

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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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Saturday, August 22, 2009

 

Two diverse workshops

This week I was "on the road again" to Texas and Ohio. In Texas, I worked with 3rd-8th grade teachers in a school district, focusing on ePortfolios and the three levels of implementation using a blogging platform (they are using EduBlogs which is based on WordPress). In a previous entry, I provided a link to the diagram that I developed to explain the process between Level 2 (collection+reflection in blog entries) and Level 3 (selection+reflection in thematically-organized pages). After sharing this diagram with my colleagues at Seattle Pacific University, I modified the diagram for higher education, based on how they are actually developing "bPortfolios" using WordPress.com. So I have posted both a K-12 version and a higher education version of my latest concept map. I also set up a Google Site to support my work with the district.

During the latter part of the week, I worked with a small college in Ohio to help a group of faculty members to adopt one new Web 2.0 tool in one of their classes this fall and next spring. I introduced a range of technologies, modeling the use of Google Sites and GoogleDocs. I love it when I learn something new while I am teaching: in a discussion of RSS, I learned how to subscribe to changes in a Google site (by eMail, not RSS). We also explored blogs, Twitter, networking through Google groups and Ning. I also wrapped up the workshop with an introduction to digital storytelling, with lots of higher ed examples. The participants downloaded Audacity, and explored ways that they could add audio clips to their courses in their CMS. From feedback, I hear that they want more on digital storytelling (no surprise!). I will be back there in January for a feedback and sharing session before the spring semester. I will also provide an introduction to creating digital stories (script development, image selection), so that they can prepare a digital story about their learning by the end of the school year. I will be back in late April or early May to do a hands-on workshop so that they can construct their stories. The faculty participants had new laptops (either Mac or Windows), but the experience was almost the same, since we were focusing on web-based tools. I am looking forward to working with them over the rest of this school year, to help these faculty tell the story of their Web 2.0 discoveries.

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Friday, July 31, 2009

 

David Warlick's ePortfolio features

David Warlick wrote about The Next Killer App? (e-portfolios!) in his blog, where he outlines a very nice list of features for eportfolio assessment. My response to his blog and the very interesting comments that followed:
I applaud your list of features, which exist in one form or another somewhere on the internet. The challenge is putting them together into one system without making it very complex. I have experience with a lot of the commercial and open source e-portfolio systems, and the learning curve/ease of use is a challenge. In my blog– http://electronicportfolios.org/blog –I am discussing a lot of the issues of e-portfolios for learning. I have seen e-portfolios in teacher education programs move from stories of deep learning to checklists of standards/competencies. There exists a lot of confusion about e-portfolios: are they reflective journals? or are they assessment management systems? I believe the current collection of commercial tools were developed in response to the NCATE 2000 Teacher Education Program Standards. The problem with ePortfolio tools today is their genesis in higher education. There are very few tools that were created specifically for K-12, and especially usable by primary students.

After the last NECC, I wrote a blog entry (http://bit.ly/LZRM3) where I discussed ePortfolios and the new Accountability Systems discussed in the Obama Education Plan. There needs to be a wider discussion of the implementation of the e-portfolio process in K-12 schools, that is not tool-specific, but provides educators with a range of Web 2.0 technologies to support BOTH student learning and institutional accountability. Right now, I advocate using separate tools to meet these disparate purposes, because I believe that the capability for student personalization and creativity always takes a back seat to data collection and aggregation in these all-in-one systems. My blog entry on Which ePortfolio Tool? (http://bit.ly/4otfoo) outlines some of these issues. I also discuss “Balancing the Two Faces of ePortfolio” on my website and in conference presentations and keynotes: http://electronicportfolios.org/balance/ (I believe we need to separate the workspace from the showcase; the process from the product; the learning portfolio from the presentation portfolio.) David, your work on Classroom Blogging is, for me, the foundation of a reflective Learning Portfolio.

Let’s keep up the dialogue. I think some of the best thinking on ePortfolios is happening in New Zealand, where they have published several interesting White Papers, and they are addressing the issues from the students’ learning needs. They have developed a very interesting e-portfolio model (http://bit.ly/RjoaJ) that includes a database to store artifacts or links to documents stored anywhere on the Web. Such a database could be used to organize all of the artifacts for use in a portfolio (regardless of the tool to be used to construct the presentation portfolio). With the Internet, the process is really one of hyperlinking and, as I learned from Hall Davidson at NECC: “All you need is an EMBED code!”

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

 

ePortfolios and new Accountability Systems

I was doing a search on Google Scholar this week, using the terms "electronic portfolios in elementary education." I came across the following abstract for an article ... the title of the article really hit a nerve with me: Will Mandating Portfolios Undermine Their Value?
Mandating portfolios on a system wide or statewide basis may destroy one of their greatest assets: allowing students to reflect on their learning and feel a sense of hope and control. Once standards are defined by an outside authority, teacher-student collaboration is minimized and the importance of students' own goals and learning assessment diminishes.
-- Case, Susan H. (1994) Will Mandating Portfolios Undermine Their Value? Educational Leadership, v52 n2 p46-47 Oct 1994
This quote underlines the challenge we have with mandating portfolios: how do we maintain student engagement and ownership? Then, again, if there is no extrinsic motivator or mandate, where is the intrinsic motivation to reflect on learning, especially when there are so many competing priorities in our students' lives? If only we could capture the motivation behind social networks to facilitate reflection on learning! That is the place where students reflect on life, albeit most often with a more social, less academic focus.

From my brief longitudinal review of the literature, it is obvious that the research on portfolios focused on K-12 schools in the 90s, and switched over to higher education since 2000. Perhaps the reason focuses on two factors: No Child Left Behind (2001) federal legislation changed the focus of assessment from the K-12 classroom to statewide standardized testing for high stakes accountability; and NCATE 2000 accreditation requirements for Teacher Education programs required establishment of Assessment Management Systems to document teacher candidate achievement and program improvement. In 2002, the Chronicle of Higher Education also declared that ePortfolios were the "next big thing" in IT... and college students provide an easily-researched population for faculty with research and publishing requirements.

While the direction for the renewal of NCLB has not been finalized, there are indications that a broader definition of assessment will allow multiple measures of achievement, supporting more formative, classroom-based assessment, which will make portfolios more popular in K-12 schools. Maybe the portfolio pendulum will move back toward K-12. President Obama made the following statement in his March 10, 2009 speech on Education:
And I'm calling on our nation's governors and state education chiefs to develop standards and assessments that don't simply measure whether students can fill in a bubble on a test, but whether they possess 21st century skills like problem-solving and critical thinking and entrepreneurship and creativity.
Wouldn't an electronic portfolio help a student showcase these 21st century skills... especially creativity? The Obama Education Plan contained the following statement:
Develop better student assessments that allow teachers and parents to identify and focus on individual needs and talents throughout the school year. Technology can help get information about student performance to teachers and parents in real time, and support ongoing efforts to improve student performance in an area of weakness and support student success in areas where the student shows particular interest or aptitude.
Shouldn't an electronic portfolio be one of those formative assessment tools, allowing a student to showcase their successes... and empower them to assess their own work? I advocate an ePortfolio that is student-centered, emphasizing student ownership and "voice" (as highlighted in the NZ report in my last blog entry). There are other tools that can be used as institution-centered data-collection systems. I hope these two approaches won't get confused... or combined. Otherwise, K-12 ePortfolios will look like many of the ePortfolios produced in Teacher Education programs today, which are, to quote Hartnell-Young and Morriss, "heavy with documentation but light on passion."

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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: http://groups.google.com/group/k12eportfolios
* Group email address k12eportfolios@googlegroups.com
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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