Saturday, January 16, 2010


My Google Storage Activated

I woke up this morning to this message on my Google Docs page:

So, I found the three files that I have been using in my study of online storage systems, and uploaded them to my Google Docs account.  There were two PDF files (Google Docs has been able to store PDFs for the last year) and one 10MB MP3 file of my presentation at a conference. I proceeded to experiment based on instructions in a website that I recently found: How to Embed MP3 Audio Files In Web Pages With Google or Yahoo! Flash Player. I used the code for the Google Reader player, and I embedded it on a demo Google Site I was using for a class. It took a couple of tries, because I don't think Google is supporting the embedding of MP3 files, but I made it work by tweeking the download URL on the Google Docs download page for that document (removed the download suffix on the URL).

Euripides said... An update- I was told after uploading one of my podcasts that "sorry, we do not currently support MP3 files"
Obviously! The process I went through worked, but it was not for the faint of heart (or those who don't understand URL codes). I hope that there will be a gadget soon, that will make this process seamless, just like embedding YouTube videos. Using to embed audio with a player is much easier!

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Google Online Storage...Finally!

Today, the Official Google Docs Blog announced "the ability to upload, store and organize any type of file in Google Docs." Finally! (at least some time over the next couple of weeks) can upload to Google Docs any file up to 250 MB. You'll have 1 GB of free storage for files you don't convert into one of the Google Docs formats (i.e. Google documents, spreadsheets, and presentations), and if you need more space, you can buy additional storage for $0.25 per GB per year...
According to the response to questions in the Comments in this blog entry, the additional storage is shared between Picasa Web Albums, Gmail and Google Docs. The cost is described on this page. Picasa (images) provides 1 GB free storage, GMail provides 7+ GB free, and now GoogleDocs provides 1 GB free. You can't share free storage between applications, but if you upgrade even the smallest amount (20 GB for $5 per year), you can use that extra storage in any of those tools.

The Google Enterprise Blog Entry indicates that this capability is available to GoogleApps users (also for GMail accounts). For now, the Documents List API will only be available to GoogleApps Premiere domains (what about Education Edition?).

Assuming this functionality is available to Education accounts, for ePortfolios, we finally have our digital archive that will hold any type of file. GoogleDocs Folders can also be shared. I can hardly wait to see how it works. Will the files have an Embed code? Are they individually linkable? I am specifically looking for the ability to embed audio files, much as we can do with YouTube videos. Will it be easy enough for a primary student to use??? Some of the comments in the blog are asking for a DropBox-type of interface (synchronize contents of folders). I agree!

UPDATE: In response to public requests, Google increased the maximum file size to 1 GB while also adding a Thumbnail view to your GoogleDocs Home page (Documents List). 

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Thursday, November 12, 2009


Google storage changes

Yesterday I received a notice from Google that my online storage of GMail and Picasa photos was being changed from $20 to $5 per year, or my storage allocation was increased to 80 GB for the same $20. Needless to say, I reduced my service until I find out what might be on the horizon in terms of Google storage. Might I soon be able to store more than just email and photos? Does this mean that Google's long-rumored web drive is about to appear? 80 GB would be well worth $20/year, and there were additional levels for additional fees, up to 16 terabytes (for over $4,000/year). The possibilities are exciting for my work in lifelong portfolios. Hmmmm....
Sent from my iPhone
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Monday, September 14, 2009


Introducing Liberate your data!

Today, the leader of Google's Data Liberation Front announced his team's efforts to "allow users to transfer their personal data in and out of Google's services by building simple import and export functions." As explained in the blog entry,
... a liberated product is one which has built-in features that make it easy (and free) to remove your data from the product in the event that you'd like to take it elsewhere....

We've already liberated over half of all Google products, from our popular blogging platform Blogger, to our email service Gmail, and Google developer tools including App Engine. In the upcoming months, we also plan to liberate Google Sites and Google Docs (batch-export).
This feature has huge implications for using Google tools for ePortfolio development.  Just as they announced last month that you could transfer a Google Site from a GoogleApps for Education domain to another Google account you own, this looks like a systemic approach to data portability, to transfer data out of Google, should you so choose.  This is an open standards approach which will be interesting to watch. The only thing is... where else would I put that data? Are other cloud computing companies going to follow suit?

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Thursday, July 23, 2009


Another ePortfolio Model

Derek Wenmoth, of CORE-ED in New Zealand, published this image in his blog last year, focusing on Conceptualising e-Portfolios. I found this link in a discussion group established by the Ministry of Education in New Zealand on Managed Learning Environments (MLE), "the software and digital content that suppoort learning."

This diagram is very similar to several of my model diagrams, where the storage/repository is separate from the presentation portfolio that I might construct in different systems (as I have done in my "Online Portfolio Adventure"). In all of these diagrams, I have focused on the storage issues with ePortfolios; if we could solve the storage/management issues (a lifelong repository?) then the ePortfolio presentation issues will be more manageable. In the NZ MLE discussion, Trevor Storr made the following suggestion:
Lets assume that we have a national data store for our ePortfolio Applications (note the 's'). Different ePortfolios would access the data store (I could imagine at least one funding model for this). Now if the data store was a simple database that could be mapped to open ePortfolio standards then the data would easily be used by different applications with little user intervention.

The benefit of this approach is that to use the national ePortfolio data store vendors will have to map the database to whatever standard they choose. Secondly, the problem of portability (at a user level) is avoided. Finally, as standards evolve, database fields can be mapped to match the standard.

In summary: the data does not have to move between ePortfolio applications if applications are able to access a single data store that can be mapped to the relevant standard(s).
That is the model that I have been advocating for several years. A year ago, I explored different online storage systems for creating this digital repository. A database of artifacts that is maintained over a lifetime is the centerpiece of Derek's diagram, and should be central to our thinking about next generation ePortfolio tools. In the MLE discussion, Russell responded:
I'm with Trevor here,
I don't think interoperability is about where the components of artefacts/DLO's or artefacts themselves sit or are stored. I think its about the ability of LMS's/Eportfolio's to aggregate that stuff in a way that preserves some chronology and preserves a time stamped example of work. (along with appropriate related assessment) We're already in an age of mashups where a creative online artefact or piece of work may be sucking a component out of flickr or animoto and being combined with text in a blogger type environment. We have a whole cluster of kids in Tamaki, from Y1 -Y13 already creating content in this environment. For me, & I think our cluster, an eportfolio needs to be able to access a set of time stamped artefacts that were created on or offline, (some of the online ones being multi-sourced mashups), that the school & student identify as being part of the student's cumulative record of work. Copies of these artefacts/DLO's could sit in one central repository (as Trevor suggested) and individuals ought to be able to rearrange their portfolio's with different examples of content to suit different purposes over time. I see the portfolio as an overlay and an organiser for this content. I see a developmental continuum of teacher organisation gradually giving way to learner organisation in respect of how this stuff is managed and owned.
OK, Google, when is the Google WebDrive going to be released? The ePortfolio community is ready! What do we need? EMBED codes or drag-and-drop HYPERLINKS to our artifacts in an online data storage system!

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Sunday, January 25, 2009


Google Web Drive Rumors Appear (Again)

The rumors about Google's long-awaited GDrive (or Google Web Drive) has shown up again on news websites as well as other blogs:
These articles predict that Google's "cloud" storage will become available in 2009, a prediction made in 2007 by the Wall Street Journal. What makes this seem like more of a reality is a screenshot, posted on a MacRumors forum, of the new Mac beta version of Google's Picasa, shown in the TGDaily article, showing "Google Web Drive" as one option for moving image collections (removed in updated versions of the software):Hmmm.... When this service becomes a reality, it will really change the collection part of the portfolio process. I've been blogging about this possibility for the last year.

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Sunday, April 20, 2008


More Online Storage services explored

While watching the day-long John Adams marathon on HBO (an incredible series!), I used the time to explore more of the online storage services that I started exploring last month (and that attracted many comments). Here are the services that I explored today:
I think I have found a couple of sites that meet my requirements: I've used Microsoft's SkyDrive in the last couple of weeks to transfer files between platforms, but I am most impressed with the capabilities of and The mediamax service is in the middle of migrating to a new name,, and I received an email that told me they were not migrating files uploaded to its free accounts.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008


Digital Identity & ePortfolios

Eifel is sponsoring a conference in Montreal in May 2008 entitled, "ePortfolio & Digital Identity." Serge Ravet of Eifel has recently written a blog entry entitled, "The ePortfolio is dead? Long life to Digital Identity!" I think the way Serge conceptualized the ePortfolio is more like my concept of the Working Portfolio, or the Digital Archive for Life. Below are Serge Ravet's 2004 metaphors as listed on my Portfolio Metaphors page:
These metaphors go far beyond the concept of a portfolio as "a purposeful collection of work that demonstrates efforts, progress and achievement" over time. So, giving that list of services a new name is fine with me... but I don't think the ePortfolio itself is dead! Just the conceptual definition that Eifel held in 2004. I have always seen two elements of ePortfolio development:
The research that I have conducted since 2004, where I have recreated my portfolio with now 34 different tools, services, or software (my Online Portfolio Adventure) really focused on the ePortfolio as Product or Presentation. All of my artifacts were stored on my web server or one of my online services, such as my .Mac account. My most recent study, looking at different online storage services, plus this blog (my own eDOL), represents the concept of the Working Portfolio, or ePortfolio as Process.

As more companies begin to offer online storage or lock boxes, such as Wells Fargo, Microsoft, Google (medical records right now), Amazon's S3, IBM, and a host of other online storage services, we need to find another term that incorporates all of these purposes. What would be the unifying concept of Eifel's former ePortfolio services, Wells Fargo's digital safe deposit box, Europass' universal CV or online personal health records? I'm not sure I like the word identity in the context of the Working Portfolio, because it will be further misunderstood (just as the term ePortfolio has been). The term identity is used in a variety of other contexts, such as identity theft (criminology), identity development (sociology and psychology), corporate identity (business), etc. Within the context of portfolios in education, perhaps a better term to use would be "digital archive" or "lifetime personal web space" or just plain online storage.

I do see the larger picture that Serge proposes:
If modern education consists in developing one's identity, then digital education must become one of the priorities of education, along with physical or moral education.... But the challenge to tackle from now on is not the simple use of ePortfolio any more, but digital identity education. We now all have a digital identity, even if we are not aware of it.
That is certainly a provocative statement, subject to further debate. I've never viewed the use of an ePortfolio as simple. Perhaps that is because the more I learn about ePortfolio development, the more I see its complexity. I agree that young learners need to be good "digital citizens" and be more aware of the consequences of their online activities. ISTE has made Digital Citizenship one of the new National Educational Technology Standards (NETS). I am excited to continue this debate in Montreal.

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008


Portfolios in the Cloud

In my last two blog entries, I have focused on different online storage systems that could be used to store the artifacts for an electronic portfolio. As I researched further into this category of online services, I found the concept of "cloud" computing: a globe-spanning network of servers (the leader in cloud computing is Google, with Yahoo, Microsoft, IBM, and Amazon close behind). Another way to understand "computing in the cloud": dividing up work and distributing it out across the Internet. That is the model that I discussed more than a year ago as an ePortfolio Mash-up: different elements of my portfolio saved in different places in the Internet cloud.

In my reading, I found a new and interesting provider of personal digital document storage: Wells Fargo Bank! Their vSafe service will provide their customers online space to store and organize copies of important documents. "By protecting information in an electronically secure and centralized location, customers can easily access and recover copies of critical documents in the event of a natural disaster, theft or hard drive crash, or while traveling." I had not anticipated that online document storage would be provided by a financial institution, but security and privacy is a basic requirement of that industry. In the digital age, they could provide a digital safe deposit box for our important personal information. [I wonder if they would also allow hyperlinks to selected files? I have often compared financial portfolios (documenting the accumulation of fiscal capital) with portfolios in education (documenting the development of human capital).] But at $4.95 a month for 1 gigabyte, $9.95 a month for 3 gigabytes and $14.95 for 6 gigabytes of storage, it is fairly pricey for the increased security.

According to another article in Backup Review, another company in the Education market, School Web Lockers, is offering online storage of student and teacher work, accessible from home as well as school. "All School Web Lockers are backed up daily and preserved from year-to-year to allow students to easily create a portfolio of work." Again, I wonder if they allow hyperlinks to selected files from one of the many e-portfolio authoring tools.

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Online Storage Videos

Some of these companies offering online storage have posted videos online (source: Online Backup and Storage blog):
Rather than fill my blog with more reviews of online storage sites, I have set up a web page on my website to organize my ongoing study of these online storage systems, and will post the most promising discoveries in my blog.

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Sunday, March 30, 2008


Online File Storage Research

I'm beginning a review of online file storage, building on my prior blog entry. I'm looking for online space to store artifacts for an electronic portfolio, not a standard file backup service. I found the following resources that either listed or reviewed the different services:Based on this work and a chart that I downloaded, from an article called The Online Storage Gang, I am exploring the following services. I pulled together a couple of PDF files and one MP3 file to upload as a test of the system. Here are my requirements: free storage of at least 1 GB of any type of data (including audio files) and able to share files in two ways (email with link to a file and permanent URI that can be added as a link to a web page).

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Sunday, March 16, 2008


Digital Archive for Life Diagram

Digital Archive (for Life) Supports Lifelong & Life-wide Learning (click to see full size image)
I developed this diagram as part of my presentations on e-portfolios for lifelong/life-wide learning. As shown here, a "digital archive for life" can follow an individual from informal learning in the family (and the popular development of scrapbooks), into formal education and professional development, and serve as a "memory enhancer" as we reach our post-retirement years.

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Saturday, August 04, 2007


CARPE Research and MyLifeBits

I just came across some research being conducted at Microsoft: Jim Gemmell's research project called MyLifeBits Project, which is exploring "lifetime store of everything" using Gordon Bell's life work (the "official guinea pig" for the project). This work has been written up in Scientific American (A Digital Life, March 2007) and a New Yorker Article (Remember This? - May 2007). CARPE (Capture, Archival & Retrieval of Personal Experiences) is a research area of the ACM's SIGMM (Special Interest Group Multimedia). It seems that the time is right to explore these ideas, but not just in the context of later adulthood. I am interested in how we can begin this process early in life, but be more selective in what we save, as we advocate in the portfolio process (Collection, SELECTION, Reflection, Direction). I think there is a lot that the portfolio community can learn from this project... and vice versa.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Correspondence on Digital Archives & ePortfolios

I received another message from Mike Caulfield in reference to a previous dialogue that we had:
Recently there’s been a rather vigorous discussion in my part of the blogosphere about what we’ve been calling the “Inverted LMS”

The idea is pretty simple – let students blog in wordpress or another blog (as in your portfolio examples) and let them tag specific entries with a “portfolio” tag. Then use an RSS aggregator to pull those entries into the institutional blog, where they can be categorized organized and saved for institutional assessment.

A friend at Univ. Mary Washington has been looking into this arrangement for making multiple classes out of single student blogs (although not for eportfolio, yet)[Tech details here]

The LMS is “inverted” because rather than creating spaces for classes and filling them with students, he starts with the student as the atomic unit, and through category tagging and aggregators build the class piece – class or course is an attribute of something a student says, rather than the box in which they say it…

The neat thing about this is that the students can truly own their own reflective space, and only cede a portion of it as a portfolio. This encourages the student to see the portfolio piece as just a part of a larger ongoing process of reflection and story-telling. And it allows them to do it in a space they own – one that stands outside arbitrary divisions of class, subject and school vs. work vs. personal interests.

Anyway, I’d be glad to hear your thoughts on it. As you can see, one of my main concerns intersects with yours – that we make this process student-centered, not assessment centered, and that we develop this as a habit in them, not as an assignment.
First, there is nothing wrong with assessment, as long as it is student-centered, or benefiting student learning. But too often, the term is mis-understood, and used to mean "evaluation" or "accountability" or another purpose that is more institution-centered. A student doing self-assessment is engaged in a powerful process. Rather than calling your idea an inverted LMS, why not call it a Personal Learning Environment (PLE) or personal learning space. I discussed this briefly after the New Zealand ePortfolio Conference. As I look at how (mostly young) people use MySpace or FaceBook or most blogs, they are often using these online spaces not only for social networking, but also for identity production. I also received another message today from Nathan Garrett of Woodbury University a Claremont graduate student, who was commenting on my blog entry and Digital Archive for Life paper:
On a theory level, I have been heavily influenced by Donald Schon’s view of the reflective practitioner, and have been making my way through Dewey’s work. I am particularly interested in the “learning to be” part of education, helping new students to understand the way a practitioner thinks in their discipline.

At heart, I am interested in the development of systems to connect people and allow them to express themselves. I am particularly interested in distributed systems loosely coupled together that, as you put it, “allow a thousand flowers to bloom.” I see a lot of potential for technologies like RSS and open ID to aggregate and distribute people's identities. I think that one of the largest issues surrounding distributed systems is control and safety; how do we let users control their own identity in a truly distributed system? My own research at Claremont has shown that students deeply care about having the ability to limit access, but also have an imperative to establish themselves by making their work better known. Experience with my own families’ blogs and early attempts at photo sharing have really highlighted this issue for me.

Ultimately, I'm trending towards the view that the system we will end up with will use RSS to expose content, tags to organize it, and open ID to selectively share content with certain people. The organizing systems would be crucial, and probably needs to be open source for broader adoption (and easily copied or imitated by commercial companies, whose competition and adoption would be crucial).
The challenge I see is raising the awareness of the potential for using these more open systems, and to provide models that show how they work in practice. I can see this working well in higher education, but my current interest is in K12 schools and in families, where the concern for security is paramount. We need more research at all levels of human development, to validate some of these theories.

Yesterday, I purchased the Freedom Writers DVD. I had seen Erin Gruwell last February at a conference, so I knew the story and had watched the video many times on my cruise and on some flights this spring. But I was able to focus more on the commentary and the underlying meaning of this movie. Erin Gruwell's students used writing as a tool for liberation and self-identity, first in their hand-written journals and later in the computer lab. They didn't call these journals "blogs" because they weren't online (at least not in the movie) and there was an emphasis on anonymity. However, that same process is experienced by many young learners, as they use many different types of Web 2.0 technology for self expression. This movie provides an example of a talented teacher who challenged and channeled these writing efforts to a positive outcome in these young lives; it shows the power of reflection and storytelling to change lives.

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Friday, July 13, 2007


My Vision of a Digital Archive for Life

I recently had a meeting at the Center for Advanced Technology in Education, part of the Teacher Education Department at the University of Oregon. As a result of that meeting, I have started to expand on an earlier blog entry (Digital Archive for Life). Here is the executive summary of the paper, which is posted as a GoogleDoc. Comments are welcome. If anyone would like to collaborate on these ideas, send me an email. I intend to publish a polished version of this article in On The Horizon, a journal on Futures and Education.
In this article, I have outlined my vision for digital stories of development, or Online Personal Learning Environments which may eventually replace what we currently call “electronic portfolios” in education. Based on the concept of “lifetime personal web space,” this online archive of a life’s collection of artifacts and memorabilia, both personal and professional, has the potential to change the current paradigm of electronic portfolios, mostly institution-bound, and focus instead on the individual or the family as the center for creating the digital archive, which can be used in a variety of contexts across the lifespan, from schools to universities to the workplace. Finally, this archive can be used to develop personal histories and reflective narratives to preserve our stories for future generations. A possible scenario is followed by the challenges faced when developing this service for widespread dissemination.

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Thursday, July 07, 2005


One Portfolio for Life?

There is a movement in Europe and in Canada to create "E-Portfolios for Every Citizen by 2010." There is also a discussion of "one portfolio for life" which evokes many reactions. My initial response was to separate the one "digital archive of my work" for life, and the multiple presentation portfolios that I might develop for different purposes and audiences throughout my life. I know there is an effort to build systems that integrate all aspects of our digital lives, or as Serge Ravet expressed it, An educator from New Zealand sent me a link to an entry from her blog, discussing issues around digital identity:
In time our e-portfolio record of learning might develop into a massive “learning identity construction” digitized database “A real celebration of learning across a lifetime” that would make today's efforts seem mute, silent screen versions in comparison.

The tension in this extrapolation is that it is not unlike the “consumer identity construction” information databases that can already reveal our predilection for hanging out in wine bars and txting lovers at the end of the day.

The e-portfolio might be likened to "wiki for data from a security camera, VISA card statement and mobile phone bill", in that both allow the construction of digital identity.

And both might misprepresent the complexity of what it is to be human through representing identity as data.
My concern, in our rush to jump on the bandwagon of "a portfolio for all" and "portfolio as digital identity," we are missing the essential purpose of portfolio as a concept and process as well as product. By broadening the concept of the portfolio, we may be thereby weakening its use for learning. Once again, I remember Catherine Lucas' cautions about portfolio use, especially "the weakening of effect through careless imitation." The broader definition of portfolio also serves to confuse the issues.

I recently heard about assignments in an "electronic portfolio class" where students were asked to create an electronic portfolio for a dog or a cat! If the "heart and soul" of a portfolio is reflection, how can you create a portfolio for a dog or cat? It seems to me that they are creating more of a digital scrapbook than a portfolio. Again, the problem is with definition. A portfolio is a personal document, not a documentary. That class sounds more like a website development course, which just furthers the confusion of what an electronic portfolio really is.

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