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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Tuesday, February 02, 2010


Blogger discontinuing FTP support

Today, Blogger announced that they will no longer support FTP publishing in Blogger after March 26, 2010. I have been publishing this blog to my own web server since May 2004, using FTP almost from the beginning because, at the time, I didn't want ads on my blog (no longer an issue). Now, I need to make a decision... do I host this blog as a address (not accessible on a lot of school networks), or do I host it on a custom domain (I have a couple of them that I am not using), or do I transfer the whole thing over to (not possible in the current FTP format)? So, I have a few weeks to make a decision... but I will be doing a lot of traveling between now and the end of March (New York, India, New Zealand, Sedona). I will post my decision soon, and will do the appropriate re-directing on my web server. Still, it is irritating, at a time when I am going to be very busy!

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Thursday, December 17, 2009


Digital Narratives in Online Class

I just spent the afternoon reviewing and grading the final projects in the online class that I have been teaching this fall. One of the assignments was a narrated digital narrative, with the following instructions:
You will create a multimedia digital narrative (digital story with voice narration), that outlines your Technology Philosophy/Creed. This project will be submitted as a URL and embedded into your blog, and the script for your narration should include the references you used to support your statement. This digital narrative will be 4-to-5 minutes (400-500 words), recorded and illustrated with digital images, and posted online, either in YouTube/TeacherTube/SchoolTube (upload a digital video created with iMovie, MovieMaker or PhotoStory), or developed in, or developed as Powerpoint adding narration using Digital images should be either Creative Commons (from Flickr search) or digital photos that you have taken or Powerpoint slides you have exported to JPEG or screenshots of educational websites. No student faces should be identifiable (see Privacy statement). 
I provided step-by-step instructions for using one of the free video editors (iMovie, MovieMaker2 or PhotoStory), and two Web 2.0 authoring tools (VoiceThread or Screenr). Given those choices, the final projects were developed using a variety of tools:
All of the students maintained a bPortfolio (blog-portfolio maintained in and most of them embedded their videos using the following tools:
  • Youtube (8)
  • Screenr (5) (2 exported to YouTube)
  • motionbox (1)
  • voicethread (1) (one exported to YouTube)
  • vodpod (3) (to embed video in blog)
For many of these students, it was the first time they had created any type of digital video, or posted a video online. For an online class, there was no face-to-face assistance for the assignment, even though I offered to come on campus to provide a hands-on workshop (no one asked me). Some said that the hardest part of the project was embedding the video into their WordPress blogs (thus the use of There was some push back when the assignment was first discussed on our last Adobe Connect Conference, but I provided both a practical and theoretical rationale. I am so pleased with the resulting assignments. I am going to ask for permission to post a few of them on the class website.

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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: 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:

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Monday, December 14, 2009


10 Reasons to use a Blog for your ePortfolio

Here is another blog entry from a faculty member at Boise State University, where I visited last week. It is refreshing to see faculty members model the use of blogs as a reflection space. Both Barbara and Lisa's blogs are developed in, taking advantage of the pages in addition to the blog entries. As they implement a reflective journal (aka, learning log) with their graduate students in the Educational Technology Program at Boise State, they will be providing a model of reflection that their students can emulate in their K-12 classrooms. Bravo!

Of course, all blogging tools are not created equal. I am creating this blog in Blogger, because that is the tool I started using in May 2004. Blogger allows Labels (key word tags) but not the categories available in WordPress. Blogger doesn't allow additional pages, like in WordPress. When I first started blogging, I posted duplicate entries to both a WordPress blog on my own server space (but gave it up after a few months as duplicative), and developed a portfolio using the pages and sub-pages available in (version 2.0+).  I keep a private personal blog in WordPress because I require a password to access the blog (or any individual entry in a public WordPress blog can require a password). So if WordPress has so many more features, why am I still writing this blog in Blogger? I think it is the user interface: Blogger is clean, simple, easy to use; I find the WordPress interface to be more cluttered, complex, but I can see its advantage for institutions that want to host the system on their own servers. For me, the major difference is that I can embed audio, video and slideshare files into my Blogger blog, but would require me to upgrade my account with VideoPress for an annual $60 fee (not applicable for sites hosting WordPress on their own server).

I just finished reading a dissertation written by an elementary teacher who implemented an electronic portfolio to support process writing with her fourth grade students using WordPress on a server in her school... in Greek! In the school where I worked in Turkey last month, that school is implementing e-portfolios with fourth and fifth grade students, making a transition from PowerPoint to WordPress on their own server... in Turkish! It helps to have a technology support staff! The value of this open source tool that can be installed on an institution's server, and modified to be implemented in the native language of the school, provides an easily modifiable environment to facilitate the reflection that is "the heart and soul" of a portfolio. My next project will be to test out the blogging capabilities built into the Mahara open source e-portfolio tool.

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Thursday, December 10, 2009


Fun day at Boise State

I just spent a fun day at Boise State University, working primarily with faculty members in the Educational Technology program, to help them streamline their graduate student summative ePortfolio process. We used my "Balancing the Two Faces of ePortfolios" presentation and diagram as the framework for our discussions. It was really fun to talk with faculty members who knew the technology, and we were able to brainstorm strategies for building a reflective learning journal over time, to help students capture their learning (probably in a blog) throughout the program. Then, they would be more prepared to develop a final assessment portfolio at the end of the program, tied to the program standards. Overall, I was pleased with the discussion and I enjoyed seeing how a group of faculty worked together to improve their program.

At the beginning of the day, I asked how many of them had their own e-portfolios. There was a few tentative hands that went up... but at the end of my presentation, many of them who kept a blog (most using were able to say that their blogs and the associated pages really represented who they were professionally. Lisa Dawley, the program chair, raised an interesting idea: to incorporate students' blog-folios into the LinkedIn professional network site, to begin building their professional network before they graduated... an interesting approach, especially as a showcase portfolio for employment and self-marketing. The LinkedIn site appears to work well with a blog. I am talking with schools that are using the Ning social networking site for similar purposes, all part of embedding academic work into a larger context. More to explore!

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Monday, August 17, 2009


Blog Portfolio Model

I am in Texas, working with a school district, where they are implementing ePortfolios using EduBlogs (WordPress). Here is a new model that I created to help explain the process. I was reading David Warlick's Classroom Blogging book on the plane ride from Seattle to Dallas, and the concept of blogging as a conversation really resonated with me, as the left side of this diagram reflects. This model works with any blogging tool that also allows pages, such as Movable Type. I added a full size version of the graphic on one of my web pages.

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Friday, July 24, 2009


Conversation with Teacher Educator

Yesterday, I had an interesting conversation with a teacher educator from a college near me. Several years ago, they had adopted one of the commercial tools but just recently gave up on it. Instead they have their students sign up for accounts so that they would own the site after they graduate. I also pointed out the fact that blog content follows an interoperability standard that allows them to transfer their content to another blogging system, should they want to. He had read some of my website (but not this blog) and decided that student choice and creativity were more important than data aggregation! He noticed immediately a change in students' attitudes toward their blogs compared to those who used the rigid commercial system.

We also talked about confidentality and the ability to password-protect individual entries or the entire site. I like the ability to document learning over time in tagged blog entries and then construct pages around specific themes (outcomes/goals/standards). I just wish WP would automatically generate permanent pages with aggregated entries based on tags... but that is a topic for another day.

When asked about how they are managing the data aggregation, he said they are using the gradebook function of the college's CMS to collect faculty evaluation data. We are planning to meet next month to talk about their process.

This discussion reminds me of the discussion held at the NCEPR meeting earlier this week. When talking about technology challenges, more than one person mentioned "rigid" systems, either home-grown or commercial. Once again, the needs of institutions for data aggregation often overshadows the importance of student choice and voice, especially in how the visual presentation truly represents the learner's own vision and creativity. This Teacher Ed program has figured out how to balance the needs of the institution with the needs of their teacher
candidates... who just might want to replicate the process with their own students... with tools that are free and available in schools.

Follow-up: The teacher educator, David Wicks of Seattle Pacific University, gave me permission to share his FAQs about WordPress and his blog entry where he discussed their decision to adopt WordPress, a process he calls bPortfolios (b is for blog).

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Thursday, May 28, 2009


Wordle of this blog

Just for fun, I've been taking some of my digital documents and putting them through The Wordle above is for this blog before today... sort of looks like a footprint. Hmmm... It is fun to see the themes that come through the most-used words in a document. Below is the Wordle for my latest article, Balancing the Two Faces of ePortfolios:
An interesting way to learn from a word cloud! Almost better than an abstract!

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Friday, January 30, 2009


Balancing 2 Faces of ePortfolios

Balancing the Two Faces of ePortfolios

I am working on a new diagram and document that focuses on the two major purposes of ePortfolios in (primarily) higher education, and will discuss the difference in strategies and tools, much of it discussed in other entries in my blog. I've transfered the working version into a GoogleDocs file, and invite co-authors who are interested in working on these ideas. This is also the theme of an upcoming keynote address that I will be making next fall.

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Monday, December 08, 2008


Blogging and Reflection in ePortfolios

I just watched Arianna Huffington's interview on Charlie Rose Show, December 4, 2008, where she talked about blogging and the new book just published by her and the editors at Huffington Post. I'm one of those new readers of her blog site, getting hooked during the election campaign beginning in August 2008. I think blogs have had a huge impact on our political discourse; Arianna Huffington credits Obama's use of the Internet and social networking with his election as the 44th President of the United States.

Huffington said that blogging is successful because it is an intimate, conversational form of writing (first thoughts, best thoughts) and "the key is really to find your voice and to find your passion. That's what makes a good blog." These ideas support my opinion that a form of blogging should be included in any ePortfolio process: it provides a conversational form of writing that is essential for reflection and deep learning, which I believe is part of the "heart and soul" of a portfolio. I am promoting the concept of two portfolios: the Working Portfolio, which WSU calls the "workspace" or some schools have called the [digital] shoebox; and any number of Presentation Portfolios (depending on purpose and audience) which WSU calls the "showcase" and schools call "showtime!" In order to build more formal presentations, we need the digital archive or the storage of work samples (collection) to draw upon (selection) for inclusion in these presentations. Reflection takes place at two points in time: when the piece of work (an artifact) is saved in the digital archive (a contemporaneous reflection while the work is fresh on our minds)... thus the role of the blog; and when (and if) this piece is included in the more formal presentation/showcase or assessment portfolio. The reflection written at this point of time is more summative or cumulative, providing a much broader perspective on a body of work that represents the author's goals for the showcase portfolio. Technologically, selection would involve creating a hyperlink to specific blog entries (reflection) which may have documents (artifacts) as attachments.

These two types of reflection involve two levels of support for reflection: the reflection in a blog would focus on a specific piece of work or learning experience (such as in service learning), and what has been learned while the experience is very fresh or immediate. The reflection in a presentation portfolio is more of a retrospective as well as an argument, providing a rationale that a collection of work meets specific outcomes or goals (related to the goal of the portfolio).

Most ePortfolio systems tend to emphasize the showcase (portfolio as product) rather than the workspace (portfolio as process). There are also two different types of organization: Blogs are organized in reverse chronological order; most showcase portfolios are organized thematically, around a set of learning goals, outcomes or standards. Both levels of reflection and organization are important, and require different strategies for supporting different levels of reflection.

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Saturday, May 17, 2008


Friday Live featuring WSU

During yesterday's Friday Live sponsored by the TLT group, the presentation focused on the work of Washington State University and their work on ePortfolios (official title: Using Outside Experts to Assess Program Outcomes Online; Experiences at Washington State University). Their presentation, and the discussion in the chat, focused on the power of an e-portfolio to document the process of learning, something that I have been emphasizing in many entries recently in this blog.

WSU's ePortfolio contest brought in outside experts to judge student projects, which were documented in these ePortfolios, and there were several comments about the importance of documenting the process as much as the outcomes, normally shown in a poster. Here is another example where keeping a reflective journal is perhaps the most powerful part of the ePortfolio journey, revealing to the learners and their audiences, their construction of knowledge.

WSU uses Microsoft's SharePoint platform to support their students' ePortfolio development, based on a philosophy that they should be learning to use tools that they would use in their professional lives after they leave the university. They also believe that the students should structure their own electronic portfolios. I agree with both of those viewpoints.

The TLT Group has posted a web page on Electronic Portfolios: Formative Evaluation, Planning that provides some valuable insights on planning for planning to implement ePortfolios in a higher education institution.

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Friday, May 09, 2008


Blogs and ePortfolios

After the recent ePortfolio conference in Montreal, where I met Stephen Downes, his blog entry discussed the following entries about using blogs in the ePortfolio process:
This ain’t yo mama’s e-portfolio, part 1
This ain’t yo mama’s e-portfolio, part 2
This ain’t yo mama’s e-portfolio, part 3

Alan Levine had discussed these issues in 2004, around the time I began this blog: Two Rivers Mix: RSS and e-Portfolios.

Penn State University switched over to the Movable Type blogging tool at the beginning of this year, and here are several weblinks that provide more information.
ePortfolios at Penn State

I have already blogged about the research on blogs at the University of Calgary. It is important to emphasize that blogging tools facilitate personal publishing and reflection, which make this type of tool an essential part of any comprehensive ePortfolio system.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2006


A new blogging tool

I am trying out the new iWeb software, part of Apple's iLife06 suite of tools. I am traveling in Europe, and so am posting a Travel Blog for friends and relatives to keep track of our journey and share a small sample of our digital photos. I made a specific entry about doing Travel Blogs with different software tools.

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Monday, June 20, 2005



I'm writing this entry in a new Widget that is available for Tiger (Mac OS X 10.4). I have this widget on my Dashboard, and can make an entry quickly! Sort of reminds me of the old days of Mac OS 9 when we had extensions and Apple menu items. But this is cooler and more stable!


Friday, December 03, 2004


"Blog" top word

According to the Scout Report today, "Blog" is the top word of the year.
This week Merriam-Webster Inc, the company responsible for producing that venerable dictionary announced its top 10 "words of the year" list, with the immensely popular "blog" taking the number one place. The company compiles the list each year by taking the most researched words on its various Web sites...


Tuesday, September 07, 2004


Blogger model for ePortfolios

As I was setting up another blog, using Blogger, and marveling at how easy it is, it occurred to me that the Blogger model might be developed for e-portfolio construction. Blogger is currently a free service from Google, and an individual can either use the Blogspot hosting site to hold the files, with ads added to the top of the page, or change the publishing settings to FTP the entries to my own server, without ads. I can attach files and images, which are stored in my server space. The entries are stored chronologically, but other blogging software allows categories and subcategories. The software handles the organization, but the files are stored in my own server space. Albeit, I pay for my domain name and server space on an annual basis, but I am not using even half of my space allocation.

Why can't there be a similar type of software, similar to Blogger, that allows me to choose a different form of organization? What needs to be added to Blogger? Categories and sub-categories plus a tool to inventory the attachment files, to be able to use them in other entries. Right now, I think they can only be used in the original entry (unless I manually enter the full URL of the file). Word Press allows Categories, but the organization within each one is still chronological, the most recent on top. Perhaps that is not terrible for a portfolio, but I would like more control over the organization.

Of course, I could use a web publishing service, like Yahoo's GeoCities, to create static web pages, but there are limitations with the amount of free storage space. I really like the ease-of-use that I have with Blogger or Word Press, or any of the other blogging tools I have tried. Perhaps I am asking for a hybrid between the Open Source Portfolio and the open source Word Press blogging software.

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Wednesday, September 01, 2004


Blogging tools

I spent a lot of time yesterday setting up different free blogs, to try them out. I have a free LiveJournal account. I set up a 90-day trial TypePad account that I linked to one of my URLs currently not in use. I also sent an e-mail to Will Richardson who runs the Weblogg-Ed blog. It appears that they are using Manila, and I have two administrator accounts where I could experiment. Dan Mitchell set one up for the ADE Bloggers, and a university in New Jersey is letting me play with their system. I also set up a couple of wikis, using SeedWiki and Swiki. I realize now that I need to set up a page where I can keep track of all of the log-in pages, my account name and my password.

What I find confusing as I learn to use these systems is the different strategies for editing. With Blogger, WordPress, LiveJournal, and TypePad (the hosted version of Movable Type), you edit the blog in a different URL from the URL where you view it. I find myself using tabs in Mozilla to move back and forth between the editing window and the "public face" of the blog. The wikis I use both edit in the same window where they are created, which makes that an easier interface. But as I discussed with Joanne last night, we both find seedwiki's user interface to be more difficult. That is why I want to try swiki. The one advantage that LiveJournal has is the availability of client programs to make entries without using a browser, or being online. I downloaded xjournal for Macintosh OS X. I also see that there is client software for my Palm, that also interfaces with most of the blogs I currently use. I may spend the $10 to see if that can make a difference, especially when I am away from my computer (which is hardly ever!).

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Thursday, August 19, 2004



I know it's been out there for a year, but I just found Alan Levine's tutorial on blogging, called BlogShop 2.0. Very impressive, Alan. Why didn't I find it when I was starting my journey into blogging last spring? He has a posting about "Blog-folios" and a link to an e-portfolio created with Movable Type.


Wednesday, August 11, 2004


Multimedia Blogs and e-portfolios

Reading our ADE blog site, I see that there is some discussion in the blogsphere about adding multimedia content into blogs and the potential for digital portfolios. Fellow ADE blogger Dan Mitchell wrote, "What it takes is someone to create the tools that permit bloggers to create, edit, and link other media types with the same facility that current blogging tools provide for text-based blogging. All the better if it can be done entirely within the browser.
And what better company to take the lead than the company that already has all the best tools for creating these media? Yes, you know who I'm talking about.

My response:
I think what we need for this to happen is an environment to maintain a collection of documents (a digital archive), in any web-accessible format, and to be able to access that archive and construct any type of multimedia presentation linking to any number of those documents. Right now, I can upload documents into my blog, but there is no easy way to meta-tag those documents as they are stored, nor is there a way that they could be retrieved easily.

I think we need an authoring environment with an interface like most of the iLife suite, that allows quick access to any type of multimedia artifact. The problem with the iLife software is that these are silos that are beginning to talk to each other (like being able to see the iPhoto and iTunes libraries in iMovie). But I can't combine media types in a single archive and I do not always want to create a digital video file. Sometimes I want to produce a presentation, sometimes a web page, sometimes a mind map. And my .Mac account isn't the answer.

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Sunday, July 25, 2004


Home from Camp Apple

It was an inspiring four days. I learned so much about blogs, and using Userland's Manila. It was also an opportunity to spend four days with a group of people with the same values, at least when it comes to learning and technology. It is apparent to me that the tools are very close to being ready. I downloaded and installed the update to iBlog, but haven't tried to use it yet.

When I had an opportunity to share my professional achievements, I said, "showing learners how to use technology to tell the story of their learning, whether through e-portfolios, digital stories, or blogs." My highlighted personal achievement was working with my grandchildren to help them develop their e-portfolios.


Friday, July 23, 2004


Camp Apple Project

Today, we chose the teams we would work with on a group project. There were many that interested me, including electronic portfolios and several different digital storytelling projects. But I decided to join the small team working on Blogging! I am learning so much about using Userland's Manila for maintaining a group blog. It had many elements of a wiki (it was set up so that we could edit each other's posts). I also spent some time finding links on blogging in education. I can see many possibilities for using a tool like this for a learning portfolio.

I had downloaded iBlog last week, so I installed it today. Then I read about another tool that is an update to iBlog, not free ($20). It's called Blogwave Studio for .Mac. Both tools are integrated with some of the iLife tools, which is a good start. More experimenting ahead! I'm not sure I want to change tools so early in the process. I am pleased that we have a blog set up on the ADE Community. Maybe we can interest more ADEs in sharing their thoughts and activities using this tool. The time is late!


Saturday, May 22, 2004


First Posting

Welcome to my first entry into the world of blogging. I'm not sure I can get into the habit of posting to a web log on a regular basis, but I want to give it a try, since this looks like a technology that is being used in reflective portfolios.

My first concern is the commercialization of the portfolio as a product. I think it is ironic that my first view of my blog, when originally posted to the website, contained advertisements from several of the commercial tools. Thanks to Jeremy, I figured out how to post this blog to my own website, which removed the advertising.

I know blog postings are supposed to be short, so I will just enter a link to a paper that I am currently working on, that covers Electronic Portfolios as Digital Stories of Deep Learning. I have recently completed a short video clip covering some of those issues for my new CD-ROM. I welcome feedback on either of these documents.


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