Monday, January 25, 2010


AAC&U ePortfolio Symposium

It is a rare meeting where I will travel all the way across the country for a single day (and two nights) when I am not working or presenting, but the AAC&U meeting in Washington, D.C., was worth the miles traveled. I connected with friends and total strangers came up to me, acknowledging my work. The opening session was conducted by Bret Eynon and Elizabeth Clark from LaGuardia Community College, providing an overview of their program, a model for community colleges around the country. I then attended a breakout session conducted by Dr. Mentkowski from Alverno College, a pioneer in e-portfolios and "Learning that Lasts." I attended their Assessment Institute over six years ago, and their model of assessment-as-learning is the process underlying their use of portfolios and e-portfolios.

The lunch speech was given by Melissa Peet from the University of Michigan. She did an outstanding job with examples of a process of reflection that can transform students' perspectives on leadership and social change. I had an opportunity to have a very enjoyable dinner with her, along with Trent Batson and the two presenters from Laguardia Community College. I am anxious to read more about Melissa's work at UM.

After lunch, there were five mini-presentations, and then many more table groups where we could talk in-depth to one of the presenters. I sat at Gail Ring's table to learn more about the Clemson ePortfolio graduation requirement. They have students create their portfolios using Google Sites, and have provided a lot of support materials. They also created their own assessment management system to manage the collection of key assignments demonstrating required outcomes and scoring of the portfolios. There was also panel on assessment that included Trudy Banta (she told the story about the questions she asked at the IUPUI Assessment conference... described in my blog). Finally, Randy Bass gave the closing keynote, about ePortfolios in the "Post-Course" Era. It was a very thought-provoking presentation. I hope they will be posting podcasts of the major presentations.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Keynote in Spain and Motivation

After an exhausting trip from Istanbul, we arrived in Santiago de Compostela (Spain) last night. Just finished keynote address at ePortfolio conference for a national group working on ePortfolios in Spain. Great translation in the morning... none in the afternoon. My Spanish (from a short course over a year ago) isn't up to listening to presentations, but enjoying conversations during breaks and formal dinner. I hope that I can get their publications in digital format, so that I can read translated versions, because many of the ideas expressed in the meeting were very exciting. Some mentioned their use of social networking strategies; others recognized that faculty need to change their teaching and assessment strategies for ePortfolios to best support student learning. I was on a panel where a student teacher talked with great enthusiasm about her ePortfolio... I just wish I had her remarks in English to study further.

The wonders of the Internet! At dinner, one of the participants came up to me and said he didn't speak English, but he followed my blog through RSS (and translated it)! That's motivation (for me to continue writing this blog... and not spend as much time on Twitter)! Speaking of Motivation, I just watched Dan Pink's TED speech and found out about his new book, Drive (about Motivation in business). From his website:
The secret to high performance and satisfaction—at work, at school, and at home—is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.
How do these principles of Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose, as he discusses in relationship to motivation in business, apply to EDUCATION? Could the appropriate development of an ePortfolio be part of that process? Could an ePortfolio process be developed using these principles? Anxious for the book to come out in January, to see if there are some applications of his analysis to my field. I have gained so much from A Whole New Mind, his book about "the six essential [right-brained] aptitudes on which professional success and personal fulfillment now depend" (Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play, Purpose).

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009


CIC CAO Presentation

Here are my slides for the Council of Independent College' Chief Academic Officers Institute, held in Sante Fe, New Mexico over this last weekend. I found it interesting that there was no Internet access provided by this conference, although the hotel charged a daily fee. I ended up just using my iPhone, and found a cafe with free wifi (to clean out my Inbox). I am now in the Albuquerque airport with slow but free wifi.

I will be developing a guided tour to my part of the Teach21 website that was developed as part of CIC's project developed under a Microsoft U.S. Partners in Learning grant. As part of that tour, I will be creating a narrated version of this slide presentation, which will also be posted to the CIC website. The narrated version should be available by the end of the year.

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Saturday, October 31, 2009


Northwest eLearning Conference

I just finished attending another conference with my daughter: the Northwest eLearning Conference held in Nampa, Idaho. She and I led a pre-conference workshop entitled, "Voice and Reflection in ePortfolios: Multiple Purposes of Digital Stories and Podcasts in ePortfolio," and our slides are posted on SlideShare (embedded here).
It was the first event we have done together since she attended the Center for Digital Storytelling workshop in August. We didn't have time to do anything hands-on, but we were able to show many examples and cover the process, as shown in these slides. Most of the examples are online, with the links on the slides. (I won't comment too much about the difficulty I had in hooking up my Macbook Air to their projector… I ended up using a monitor for the small group, with my own speakers. Later that day, I took all on my videos out of my keynote presentation, and just transferred my slides over to the presentation computer… which was being used for both projecting to the room and on Adobe Connect. Ah, the frustrations of being a Mac user… still!)

Then, I provided the opening keynote address entitled, "Interactive ePortfolios: Using Web 2.0 tools to Provide Feedback on Student Learning." My slides are also posted here from Slideshare.
I think I opened a lot of eyes about the multiple purposes for portfolios, and the challenges of balancing formative and summative assessment in portfolio development. The pressure of accreditation seems to be driving the push toward portfolios; I think my message of "what's in it for the students" is starting to make people think about the tension between the two approaches. My conversations with faculty after my presentation led me to the conclusion that there is not a lot of experience with ePortfolios, and therefore, not a lot of research to support their implementation in many of these small colleges and universities. I probably unsettled a lot of people who were considering the adoption of different tools. My focus was on the process, and I only talked about a variety of Web 2.0 tools, and none of the commercial tools available. My presentation was recorded with Adobe Connect and is available online.

Later in that afternoon, Erin made her first conference presentation on teaching English Language Learning in Second Life. She was much braver than me… I never count on a live Internet connection for my keynote presentations… only for hands-on workshops. She included participants in her Cypris Chat community, both the founder of the group and some of the student participants. She uploaded her slides into Second Life, and made her presentation "in-world" for both the guests in-world as well as those of us present in the room. I was very proud of her and thought the presentation went very well. She will be repeating the presentation in-world with a group of graduate students from UNLV next week, and then will be doing a conference presentation at the Hawaii International Conference on Education in January, where she cannot count on Internet access. So, she will create some videos to use in her presentation to substitute for a live demo.

In all, most of this has been a good trip, including the eight hour drive each way! I hope I made some contacts that will lead to more collaboration with higher education institutions in the Pacific Northwest.

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Monday, October 26, 2009


Assessment Institute

Yesterday, I conducted a day-long pre-conference workshop on Web 2.0 Tools for Formative Assessment and Interactive ePortfolios. Today, I gave the ePortfolio track keynote (my slides are embedded here) at IUPUI's Assessment Institute. I recognize the perspective on assessment in the ePortfolio process in higher education that I see here at this conference. It was interesting at the opening session to see the number of people who stood up when asked if they were using standardized assessments (or e-portfolios) and sit down if they thought that method did not enhance student learning; most people using standardized measures sat down... more people using e-portfolios remained standing. An interesting response! In my keynote, I emphasized the concept of Opportunity Cost (what do we give up when we emphasize accountability or improvement (learning) based on Two Paradigms of Assessment (Ewell, 2008). Here are the slides that emphasized these concepts:

This was the first time I have presented these slides, but I intend to write more about these ideas, and share them with other educators who may (or may not!) be wrestling with this tension.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009


ePortfolio Conferences in 2010

So far, here are the dates for ePortfolio meetings or conferences in 2010:

ePortfolio Europe, 8th conference
sponsored by EIFE-L: July 5-7, 2010, at Savoy Place (not the hotel!) in London.

AAEEBL's first ePortfolio Conference: July 19-21, 2010, in Boston. Conference co-located with and managed by Campus Technology. Co-hosted by The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U). (date correction as of 9/29/09-- formerly listed as July 27-29, 2010)

Also, prior to the AAC&U conference, there will be a one-day ePortfolio Day on January 20, 2010, in Washington, D.C.

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Wednesday, July 01, 2009


My 21st NECC

I just finished my presentation at the 30th (and last) National Educational Compting Conference (NECC). Next year the conference will just be called ISTE 2010 in Denver. I uploaded my slides again to Slideshare... it seems a lot easier than converting a .pptx file to .ppt and then uploading to GoogleDocs, publishing it, and then capturing the Embed code. I have a new saying that I got from Hall Davidson's presentation on digital video: "All you need is an Embed code!" (to embed artifacts into a Web 2.0 site, just as I have done here!)
It has been a lot fun introducing my daughter to this community of educators... my 21st NECC, her first. She is much more experienced with social networks and Second Life, which will be an element in my book. We are already learning from each other, as she pursues a Masters in Educational Technology and I write a book on Interactive Portfolios for Learning. I just posted a new document on my website, inviting K-12 schools interested in participating in helping me build some case studies for this book.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009


EIFEL 2009 ePortfolio Conference

I just posted my first SlideShare presentation of my keynote address at the EIFEL ePortfolio 2009 conference. I couldn't do my normal upload to GoogleDocs, since the Powerpoint file was over 10 MB. I devoted my presentation to a lifelong view of ePortfolios, and especially a new book that I am in the middle of reading: Portfolio Life. I'll have more to discuss about this book when I have time to reflect more deeply.
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Thursday, June 18, 2009


International Travel Scheduled

I've accepted invitations to speak at the following international events:
Looks like I might keep my Alaska Airlines MVP Gold membership for one more year!

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Friday, May 22, 2009


Public Workshop available

I am conducting a "Bring Your Own Laptop" workshop at the National Educational Computing Conference on Saturday, June 27 (8:30-3:30):
Web 2.0 Tools for Classroom-Based Assessment and Interactive Student ePortfolios
Web 2.0 tools facilitate interaction and feedback. Evaluate free online tools to create Interactive ePortfolios that support formative assessment, focusing on academic standards and NETS-S. (We will focus on GoogleApps, including GoogleDocs and GoogleSites.)

My presentation during the conference is on Wednesday, July 1 (12:00-1:00):
ePortfolios 2.0: Web 2.0 tools to Improve/Showcase Student Technology Literacy
Learn how to implement free interactive Web 2.0 tools to facilitate classroom-based assessment of student technology literacy, including the advantages/disadvantages of blogs, wikis, and GoogleApps.

I am also doing a day-long workshop on the pre-conference day at the next EIFEL Conference in London, June 22, 2009:
Your Digital Self: Web 2.0 as Personal Learning Environment
Web 2.0 tools facilitate self-expression, reflection, online interaction and feedback. This hands-on workshop will focus on Web 2.0 tools that can be used to construct a PLE for a variety of purposes, and provide a broader look at using these tools within the context of ePortfolios and Digital Identity: Web Aggregators/AJAX Start Pages, Blogs & RSS Feeds, Social Networks, and Interactive Productivity Tools.

I will also be doing a keynote during the conference:
Lifelong ePortfolios: Creating your Digital Self
In the age of the participatory Web, popular social networks are creating new opportunities for reflection, collaboration and self-publishing. This keynote will outline a scenario of lifelong ePortfolios, from families to formal education to the workplace to retirement legacy stories. What are the common themes that support ePortfolio development across the lifespan? How can individuals and institutions adapt their ePortfolio strategies so that they are more engaging, and learners will want to maintain their ePortfolios for life?

Postscript: This happens to be the 5th anniversary of this blog. A few weeks ago, I created a complete page of this blog (all 330+ entries...more than 250 pages) on one web page.

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Saturday, March 07, 2009


CUE Conference

Due to a snow storm in the Sierras, I cancelled my plans (to visit schools) and drove down to Palm Springs to attend the CUE Conference. The first day was an EduBlogger Conference (I called it a day with fellow nerds). I loved it!. Lots of great ideas and new websites. The conference officially started the next day, and I attended a valuable session, conducted by Apple, on the Leopard Server. I am seeing a lot of potential for using this toolset for ePortfolios in K-12 schools. I'm thinking that children in elementary school could manage this interface. I'm interested in doing some research in this area.

There was only one presentation on ePortfolios (based on a 90s model of using PowerPoint). I sat in on one session on digital storytelling in primary grades using Pixie (Tech4Learning). My favorite session was a hands-on session with Animoto. Great fun! I downloaded the version to my iPhone! I am grateful for that snow storm. It gave me opportunities to reconnect with some of my California ed tech buddies! I also learned some new tools and strategies, always a sign of a successful event for me.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009


ePortfolio Events - Spring 2009

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Friday, October 24, 2008


ePortfolio 2008 in Maastricht

This is the last day of my sixth year attending the European ePortfolio conference in Maastricht in The Netherlands. During the first day, I led a full day workshop on Creating a Personal Learning Environment in the Web 2.0 Cloud. On the second day, I was primarily an attendee. This morning, I was on a panel that focused on the future of ePortfolios, and presented my model of a lifelong, life-wide portfolio "in the cloud."

This morning, the keynote speakers were from JISC in the UK, discussing their latest work on ePortfolios. I am impressed with the 40-page publication, Effective Practice with ePortfolios, that they just released, along with an InfoKit on ePortfolios. It provides a good overview of the process with some case studies in the U.K. in Higher Education and Further Education. This study complements the report published by Becta in 2007 which also addressed e-portfolios in schools, and the MOSEP report on a European study.

Since this conference was held in The Netherlands, there was a large participation from this country, and we were given another publication: Stimulating Lifelong Learning: The ePortfolio in Dutch Higher Education.

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Saturday, October 18, 2008


ILC 2008 conference

Last week I attended the first Innovative Learning Conference sponsored by CUE and FETC and held in the San Jose Convention Center. The attendance looked pretty low, but it was good to connect with a lot of California educators. I made my presentation on Voice and Reflection: Many Purposes of Digital Storytelling in ePortfolios. I also attended a lot of sessions on using cell phones in education and several sessions on PhotoStory, which looks like it is becoming the multimedia tool of choice for Windows XP users. I wonder why Microsoft hasn't released a Vista version of this software. That is the main reason that I elected to get Windows XP on my new HP netbook.

Speaking of netbooks, I attended a session on these small inexpensive laptops that are starting to be used in education. I was interested in the discussion of the next generation XO laptop with two touch-sensitive displays, to be released in 2010. No keyboard! Very interesting design! I'm getting used to "typing on the screen" of my iPhone. I wonder if this is the direction of small laptops. This week Apple announced updates of MacBooks. When asked about netbooks, here was Steve Jobs' response: "... that's a nascent market that's just getting started." Hmmm... I recently read about an Apple patent application for a multi-touch user interface. As they say, stay tuned!

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Sunday, October 12, 2008


Midnight Skype Conference

I just finished a Skype conversation with a group of people at EduCamp Berlin (it was morning for them, after midnight for me, but I am a night owl!). The photo above captured the setting of the video-skype-session. The local facilitator is behind the camera, I am on the big screen and to the bottom left the Berlin audience. We used Skype (audio/video), but I set up my slides in GoogleDocs presentation, shared the link with the remote site, took control of the slideshow, and gave a short talk. We followed the presentation with some questions from the audience. They kept the camera pointed toward the audience, so I could see them as we talked. Maybe next time we might use Yugma (screen sharing), but I thought this worked pretty well, and it was free!

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Sunday, July 06, 2008


NECC 2008 retrospective

I am now home from the latest National Educational Computing Conference (in San Antonio) and am thinking about some of the highlights for me. I created several blog entries while I was there, so now I am reflecting on my overall experience at that conference. There seemed to be a "conference within the conference" which began with the EduBloggercom event on Saturday, June 28. I had attended in the afternoon in 2007 in Atlanta (after my own morning workshop) which I found to be beneficial. This year, the group voted on the sessions that they wanted to hold, using cell phone texting (but I missed that part of the event), and then used the conference wiki to schedule the events and locations during the day. Some of the discussions were very interesting and worthwhile. I continued to run into many of the participants in the Blogger Cafe throughout the rest of the conference. That was an open space with chairs and tables and electrical power! There were some organized discussions, but more impromptu dialogue.

The conference also set up a Ning group, which I joined, and others invited me to be their friend. However, other than establishing these friend lists, I never saw any direct benefit for joining while I was at the conference. It was fun to see some old friends on the website, but I never saw any of them in person. I realize that I needed to be more pro-active to get something out of that type of social network. I attended my usual conference events and wandered around the vendor floor. I'm just wondering if this use of a Ning group in such a huge conference was just a playground for the attendees who subscribed to get some experience with a social network, or if others got more out of their participation.

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Saturday, April 12, 2008


LaGuardia Community College Conference

As the first U.S. ePortfolio conference, this meeting at LaGuardia Community College (April 10-12) had a special feeling about it. Drawing over 500 people from both LGCC and across the U.S. (and a few other countries), the conversation had a richness that was indicative of the maturity of ePortfolio practices. Holding the conference in the middle of a very active campus within a few subway stops from Times Square also created a very vibrant feeling, much different than the usual conference experience in hotels or convention centers. We were literally in the middle of the action! I loved how they involved so many students in conference t-shirts to help with the conference logistics.

In addition to the usual speakers (and an excellent keynote address by Kathleen Blake Yancey), there were also a lot of presenters sharing their practice at LGCC. The Center for Teaching and Learning at LGCC is establishing a National Resource Center on Inquiry, Reflection & Integrative Education to support innovation on campuses nationwide. I especially liked the focus on their students' unique stories, using the power of personal narrative in their ePortfolios.

I also took advantage of my trip to the East Coast, and attended the Rhode Island Sakai Conference, on April 9, where I learned more about the efforts in that state to establish a Proficiency Based Graduation Requirement (PBGR). I was most impressed by a small group of students who talked about their beginning efforts using Sakai. I especially liked their comments on what they would like to change (i.e., allow more personal expression in the OSP, like they can do in Facebook).

At the LaGuardia conference, I did see some student portfolios from the University of Michigan that looked very creative, using the Sakai tool. I have asked them to give me an account on their system, so that I could try to re-create my portfolio, since I have not been able to do so in the existing demonstration templates.

I am hoping that these conferences will begin a national dialogue on the role of ePortfolios in transforming learning, not only in higher education, but also in secondary schools. I met with a small group of educators that would like to begin a national research project, looking at the various statewide high school portfolio initiatives in Washington state, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Ohio. It is time to bring secondary schools into this dynamic conversation.

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Monday, April 07, 2008


Web 2.0 Workshops

I will be conducting two workshops over the next two months on using free Web 2.0 tools for ePortfolios:
The resources for these workshops will be my examples of Web 2.0 portfolios, Google Tools, and my new Options for Online Storage.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008


AERA 2008 Conference

Holding a conference of this size in midtown Manhattan has some substantial challenges, especially since the sessions were spread between four hotels from the Marriott on 46th Street & Broadway in Times Square to the Hilton at 6th Avenue and 53rd Street. There were sessions that I wanted to attend, but the time it took to get between hotels limited my choice of sessions. I attended two SIG meetings: Portfolios and Reflection in Teaching and Teacher Education and the new Applied Research in Virtual Environments for Learning. The Portfolio SIG had a fascinating discussion on reflection, which gave me a lot of new ideas. This afternoon, I did a short (12 minute) presentation on my REFLECT research and I posted my slides and the paper online.

Several of the other participants in the same session also had very interesting research to present. Lina Pelliccione from Curtin University in Australia presented a paper that:
focused on the goal of enhancing student reflection and learning with the key objective being to determine whether a structured reflective tool can enhance students’ ability to engage in the reflective cycle at a deeper level.
I was also impressed with a paper given by two teacher educators from the University of Calgary entitled, "The Value of eJournals to Support ePortfolio Development for Assessment in Teacher Education" by Susan Crichton and Gail Kopp.
The originality of this work rests in the importance of establishing an eJournal to accompany the ePortfolio. Based on our findings in this action research study, we challenge and add to the existing ePortfolio literature around such issues as ePortfolio project design, process vs. product, the use of templates, social software, and documentation.
They call it eDOL: Electronic Documentation of Learning. There it is: research that supports the importance of including a blog in an ePortfolio! These educators have validated my current opinion and practice of including a reflective journal (a.k.a., blog) in a comprehensive ePortfolio system.

After the presentation today, I had a very stimulating conversation with an educator from New Zealand. He had been reading this blog and most of my web site, and it was almost spooky to have someone seemingly inside my head, observing the changes in my own thinking over the last eight years. It was also exhilarating to talk about the leading (bleeding?) edge of ePortfolio implementation. It also confirms for me the power of the Internet to facilitate collaboration.

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Friday, March 07, 2008


SITE 2008 Conference

It is good to be back. I'd forgotten what a warm and caring community I had found in the Society for Technology and Teacher Education (SITE). I attended these conferences every year from the mid-90s through all of the PT3 grants (2006). Last year I missed the conference because I was in Asia/Australia/New Zealand. Some highlights from this conference (besides lots of wonderful networking!):
I'll have to plan to attend SITE next year (I am advocating for a Retired membership and conference fee rate). I am starting to form an idea for a distributed research project where educators from across the world can participate in Researching Lifelong Portfolios and Web 2.0. More to be revealed in the next month or so.

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Friday, February 29, 2008


Seattle Conference

For once, I made a presentation at a conference in a location where I could sleep in my own bed (at least for a short time). The Northwest Council for Computers in Education is holding its annual conference at the Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle. I did a presentation on Interactive ePortfolios: Using Web 2.0 tools to Provide Feedback on Student Learning. Part of my experience was taking the Sounder train into downtown Seattle (leaving my town at 6:30 AM!), and finding that the train had wifi... fairly slow, but I was able to upload a version of my slides, and check my email on my trip home.

The keynote presenter was Mark Prensky, who had a pretty powerful message. He is well known for his research on games and "digital natives" and his focus on student engagement. (One quote from a student: "eMail is for old people!") He gave the audience a 5-minute research assignment for which we could only use a cell phone (no computers!) to find the answer. Very interesting exercise. It makes me more convinced that learners should be using cell phones more in the ePortfolio process.


Thursday, February 14, 2008


More International Travel Planned

I just heard from the group in Mexico that they want me back. I guess my workshop in December was very well received. The participants give ratings with a range of 1 (best) to 7 (worst). The average of my evaluations was 1.2! Looks like I am going to work with the high school teachers on digital storytelling/podcasting.

I have also been invited to speak in Bogota, Columbia in August 2008, at a conference with the theme "How to integrate Information and Communication Technologies to Higher Education Curriculum." I will do a presentation that will discuss the role of e-portfolios in higher education and then I will do a full day-long hands-on workshop on the second day. I just might need to get my handouts translated into Spanish!


Sunday, January 20, 2008


MacWorld 2008

I was at MacWorld for two days. I am undecided about the MacBook Air. Only a single USB 2 port (no firewire), no interchangeable battery (but it is supposed to last 5 hours), an external SuperDrive $99 add-on (powered through USB port). It is definitely for road warriors who need a lighter machine; it really isn't a desktop replacement laptop, like the MacBook Pro. Impressive engineering, though, with the ability to "borrow" the use of optical drives wirelessly on other computers (even a Windows computer!) for backup or installing software. Just gives an idea of the developments to come! The 64GB solid state drive option adds $1,000 to the price, though.

The other announcements were impressive: Time Capsule, an Airport base station with a hard drive, for backing up all the Macs on your network; the changes to iPhone/iPod Touch software that includes inserting your current location into GoogleMaps WITHOUT a GPS! (triangulating on wifi and cell phone networks) and changes to Apple TV, including renting movies online and being able to watch them on any device, including your big screen TV or your iPod.

I also saw Microsoft Office 2008 which was just released ...anxious to get my hands on my own copy. I saw the updated iView Multimedia which is now integrated into the Special Media Edition version. I was a fan of the earlier iView, when I used it in the late 90s. I created an interesting travel website with that tool. I now remember than Microsoft had bought the product. It will be interesting to see how this software has changed.


Wednesday, December 05, 2007


ITESM Workshop in Mexico City

I just finished conducting an ePortfolio workshop in Mexico City. Initially, they thought they would use the Blackboard Content System (the older version); but instead, they want me to use one of the free online tools, so I introduced them to the Google tools. They contacted me because they liked my White Paper that I wrote almost three years ago.

During the workshop, we covered my basic workshop about e-portfolios and planning (in the first morning) then we started the hands-on component. In the first afternoon, the participants created a Google account, and set up a blog in Blogger. I showed them how to make comments on their neighbor's blog, illustrating the interactivity that would be useful in a blog/learning journal. Then, I introduced them to GoogleDocs Document tool, and we created a basic portfolio document, just like I used to do using Word, only this time, the files were all online. They also learned how to Share these documents with their neighbors, and add comments or co-author their portfolios. This morning, we continued with the hands-on component, when I introduced them to the GoogleDocs Presentation tool. Since we were on a wireless network that required a proxy server, we had some technical issues and the speed was very slow. I then introduced them to the Google Pages tool, which also proved to be a problem for a few of the participants. We talked about the pros and cons of the different Google tools and their use in ePortfolio development, and finally I gave them the presentation on digital storytelling that I did at the National Council for the Social Studies conference last Friday. At the end of the workshop, I think the participants really appreciated becoming acquainted with the many new free online tools that they and their students could use. In the afternoon, I led an hour-long conversation about e-portfolios with those attendees who could not get into my workshop (I told them that I limit hands-on workshops to 30 people).

This private university, which also includes private high schools, has more than 33 campus locations all over Mexico. The head of their Academic Affairs discussed (in Spanish) their new program for implementing faculty e-portfolios for assessing competencies in their areas of professional development, including cooperative learning, project-based learning, case studies, and negotiation. They did not intend to implement any specific software for faculty portfolios, but would let faculty choose their own tools. Thank goodness my new friend, Kathy (principal of one of the brand new high schools) was taking notes in English, and was able to show me what was being said. This conference also had keynote addresses about ethics in higher education (also in Spanish) and communities of practice (by Etienne Wenger in English).

I was most impressed by the organization of the meeting (I have a new fancy nametag to add to my collection): I had someone to guide me everywhere I went on their campus, I was wined and dined every evening, and I had a private chauffeur drive me to and from the airport. I don't think I have been treated so royally by any other university since my PT3 grant was over. They also were very warm and patient participants, speaking to me in English (I don't speak Spanish), and translating when needed. I did my presentation in English (the participants in my workshop were required to bring their own laptops and to speak English). Overall, I hope I have more opportunities to work with them. I am on a real high!

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007


My Award

I received a PDF copy of my 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award from Eifel. I deeply appreciate this honor, especially at this time in my life. Eifel is establishing a new website,, an early work in progress which they hope will trigger further reflection on ePortfolios and digital identity. As the only organization that is addressing the widespread uses of ePortfolios across the lifespan and all sectors of society, it will be important to support their development and dissemination efforts.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007


Upcoming E-Portfolio Events

I'm at the Eife-l ePortfolio 2007 conference in Maastricht, Netherlands (and my Blogger page is in Dutch!). This evening was the banquet celebration for the conference. After the awards for the best papers, they gave a special "Lifetime Achievement Award" and guess who got it? Me! Besides a bouquet of flowers, I'm not sure what else I get, but it was a very nice honor. I was actually very touched.

There are two ePortfolio events planned for the next spring: February 7-8, 2008, in Brisbane, Australia sponsored by QUT, and May 5-7, 2008, in Montreal, Canada, sponsored by Eife-l.


Friday, July 27, 2007


ADE Institute 2007

I am finishing up a marathon experience with over 200 of my fellow Apple Distinguished Educators. From the hands-on sessions of Wednesday, to our field trip to the Defense Language Institute and Language Lines in Monterey, focusing on second language learning, to the 24 hour group project that replaced a good night sleep, all produced wonderful memories. We put together a team project that was awesome, and my batteries are charged again with enthusiasm and new energy. These educators truly modeled the combination of creativity and technology.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007


NECC07 Conference - Day 4

What happened to Day 2 & 3? A whole lot of networking and conversation! Today was the day that I did my presentation on the Multiple Purposes of Digital Stories and Podcasts in ePortfolios, or as I subtitled it, "YouTube/iTunes meets 'academic' MySpace." I also finished my digital story called NameTags, which is now on my website (in several places). Now it is going on my iPod!

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Saturday, June 23, 2007


NECC07 Conference - Day 1

This morning, I gave a workshop on "Using Wikis for Classroom-Based Assessment and Interactive Student ePortfolios." I chose to do only a half day workshop, so that I could provide an introduction to the tool, but not worry about going too in-depth. I received some good feedback ("I thought I knew everything about ePortfolios until I came to your workshop"). I don't take the checklist approach, and emphasize voice and passion, so I know that made an impression. The workshop was a BYOL (Bring Your Own Laptop) although some of the participants did not realize (now did I), so some were there without a computer (a bit frustrating!). But I think it went well.

This afternoon, I am attending the EduBloggers conference. I had not planned to do anything this afternoon, but I saw the sign as I arrived at the Convention Center. So I wandered in, and here I am! I've met people that I've known by name in the Blogosphere (and in person at other conferences) and other people have introduced themselves to me because they know me through my website. I am really impressed by the innovative educators that are here at this conference. This is a good way to spend a Saturday afternoon.


Friday, May 11, 2007


Call completed

Through reasons unknown, I could not receive a phone call on the ship, so I bought a phone card and was able to place a phone call from the ship's office phone, where I also had a wireless connection for my computer. I called the conference organizer's cell phone and he was able to connect my voice into the sound system in the room. I was able to say hello. There were no questions, but I gave them a few parting words, told them where I was cruising, had set up a blog, and welcomed comments and emails if they had any questions. I heard them clap, and then he hung up the phone. It was all over by 7 AM (my time on the ship).


Thursday, May 10, 2007


First VideoFunet conference in Finland

I am doing a "virtual" video closing keynote presentation at the first VideoFunet conference in Finland. My presentation is entitled, "Digital Stories and ePortfolios: Documenting Lifelong and LifeWide Learning." I put together a 48 minute video and a "How-To" page for this conference. If participants have any questions, add a comment to this blog entry.



Technology on the High Seas

For the last 10 days, I have been on a cruise, from Ft. Lauderdale to Seattle (yes, through the Panama Canal... it was incredible). The technology for supporting the virtual presentation above has been a challenge. I tried three times to create a DVD in PAL format. For some reason, iDVD kept freezing, so I compressed the video with the best quality and uploaded a 1.6 GB MOV file to my server.

I also sent a data DVD to the conference organizers before I left. The conference presentation is actually in Finland on Friday afternoon (early morning for me, off the coast of Mexico between Acapulco and Cabo San Lucas). I had a challenging time getting the right telephone number to receive a phone call in my room (and I'm still not sure of exact GMT). So, if I get a phone call, that will work. Otherwise, I am inviting any conference participants to either send me an email with their questions or post a comment to this blog entry.

Why not use Skype? Because the cruise line blocks all voice connections over Skype, they say because of bandwidth issues. Their Internet access is by satellite. Also, my Internet access costs me 25 cents per minute. I bought a plan for 500 minutes when I got on the ship the day I arrived. That has worked OK for eMail and the occasional travel blog entry. I am averaging a half hour a day. At one port, I was able to get Internet access for $6/hour, and was able to have a Skype conversation with my daughter in Budapest.

On my Mediterranean cruise last year, I used iWeb for my 2006 travel blog. I had a lot of trouble with uploading the files to my .Mac account over the slow satellite connection. This year I am not taking as many pictures or any shore excursions, so I decided to take a simpler approach, setting up another Blogger blog. I do have two hours of video of the day we crossed the Panama Canal. Some of it is as interesting as watching paint dry (or water raise up by gravity feed, or lock gates open/close), but I should be able to edit it down to the key scenes.


Friday, April 13, 2007


AERA Conference

I facilitated a symposium at AERA on April 11 entitled, Researching Electronic Portfolios in Schools: The Role of Teacher Professional Development. We had more than 30 people in attendance on a very snowy day in Chicago! Many people from outside the U.S. were interested in this research. There were some very interesting questions about the study, some of which I realized I was not prepared to answer, especially about impact on student learning. I co-presented with Evangeline Harris Stefanakis, who is doing longitudinal research in schools in New York City, where she is finding interesting results with bilingual students in some of the poorest schools in the city (they use PowerPoint as their ePortfolio tool). I have been working with her to get her results published on the Internet. She accompanied me on my trip to Australia and New Zealand, and since we shared flights and hotel rooms, we had lots of time to talk about research, especially in preparation for AERA.

There were more than 46 portfolio papers in 10 different sessions at AERA, primarily focused on reflection and teacher education, and some valuable additions to the literature. I was also discussant at a session on Teacher Education portfolios. My REFLECT study in K12 schools is certainly unique, although there are some studies that are being conducted in England that will provide more knowledge about the widespread implementation of ePortfolios in schools. As the final 24 questions for students and teachers in our REFLECT data collection, I am using those that were also used in the study conducted by Elizabeth Hartnell-Young in a study sponsored last winter by BECTA (British Educational Computing & Telecommunications Agency). I spent over a week with Liz in Hong Kong and Australia in March, and talked with her about her research (and also launched her new book, which I discussed earlier in this blog). All of my experiences over the last two months of traveling have led me to think more deeply about the REFLECT study.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007


ePortfolio New Zealand

I am once again so impressed with the ePortfolio leaders in New Zealand. I am just finishing up a wonderful day-and-a-half of conversations about electronic portfolios. There is a new open source portfolio being built in New Zealand, called Mahara, which is based on the three components of artifacts (collection), multiple views, and audiences (selection). I appreciated having a delightful dinner last evening with the Mahara team.

There were a lot of K-12 teachers attending this conference. What I heard from the closing session of this conference was the general theme that the ePortfolio was really a personal learning space. I agree with that perspective. It really puts the ePortfolio into a perspective.



New web pages

I created two new web pages while in Australia:

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Hong Kong Conference

This is the first stop on the Asia ePortfolio Trilogy tour. A group of about 40 Hong Kong educators gathered for the first ePortfolio conference in Hong Kong. I am really excited about what I see happening here, and the level of interest, despite the low level of attendance. There is now a policy in Hong Kong for all secondary students to develop a Student Learning Profile, which can have a variety of formats; one of those could be an ePortfolio. So there will be a lot of exciting developments happening in Hong Kong over the next few years.


Monday, February 26, 2007


Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK) for e-portfolios?

I attended the annual conference of the American Association for Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE) last weekend in New York City. I went to many presentations on the program that focused on e-portfolios. What I heard continues to distress me: teacher educators are most often talking about using portfolios for collecting data for reporting and accreditation. I was the discussant in a wonderful presentation by the faculty of the University of Wisconsin Madison, where that was not the case. Their presentations focused on a scaffolded model that helped teacher candidates reflect on their growth and change as they progressed through the program. However, at 7:45 on a Sunday morning, there weren't a lot of people attending. In one of the "portfolio as data" sessions, I asked about the role of reflection. In another, I commented about the importance of students telling the story of their own growth in their own voice. It made the data-happy folks very defensive ("the stories come through the data"). WRONG! The stories come from the students own voices! I am more and more convinced that the full balanced story of portfolios is not being told in Teacher Education. There is so much attention being given to the data collection, that there is not a lot of energy left to tell the stories.

At the same conference, I attended several sessions that focused on Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK), which:
...attempts to capture some of the essential qualities of knowledge required by teachers for technology integration in their teaching, while addressing the complex, multifaceted and situated nature of teacher knowledge. At the heart of the TPCK framework, is the complex interplay of three primary forms of knowledge: Content (C), Pedagogy (P), and Technology (T). See Figure above. As must be clear, the TPCK framework builds on Shulman's idea of Pedagogical Content Knowledge.
I think a lot of the problem with the implementation of electronic portfolios is that they are being implemented without TPCK. There isn't a lot of knowledge about the pedagogical content of using portfolios for learning; the administrators and data managers are implementing electronic portfolios (that are really used as assessment management systems) with full knowledge of data and statistics but without full knowledge of the theoretical underpinnings and value of using portfolios to support student and teacher learning.

We have many faculty who understand these issues, but see the implementation of portfolios in conflict with their prior understandings of how portfolios help students learn. I am also concerned that we are not implementing portfolios in teacher education that models how teacher candidates will use them when they get their own students in their own classrooms. Many students see portfolios as a hoop they need to jump through, to give the institution data needed for accreditation, and not something that will help them as professional educators. That was NOT what I saw in the UWM presentation; their model was supported by both the faculty who spoke and the few students that were there. I wish that model could be shared more widely. They need to tell their story!

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007


Free Web Conferences available

Based on the success of the video conference last week with Mexico, I have decided to offer FREE web-based conferences available to K12 teachers (in after-school workshop groups of 5 or more teachers) and as a guest lecturer in teacher education classes. I've had success offering these workshops on a limited basis to some of my ADE colleagues. I've decided to make this offer on my website. I also just learned that I can have a free Eluminate vRoom, limited to 3 simultaneous participants. So I have two options to facilitate these online workshops: live video chats using iChat (Macintosh only) or Skype (requires two computers on the other end: one for my video feed, one to show my PowerPoint slides), and Eluminate vRoom (single computer required: no video feed).

I decided to offer these live conferences for two reasons: I really enjoy talking to teachers about ePortfolios (I learn a lot in the process), and the tools are now free for small groups. I've decided to offer the first conference to a school group for free, offering a follow-up ongoing professional development class for a fee, as I have offered in the past. I also want to pay back the Teacher Education community for the wonderful opportunity that I had for four years working under a PT3 grant.

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Friday, January 19, 2007


Skype Video Conference with LatinCALL

I just finished a video conference with the Computer-Assisted Language Learning conference for Latin America. They were in Durango, Mexico; I was sitting in my living room in Puyallup, Washington. While video conferencing is not new, this is my first time using Skype for this type of video conferencing. What was unique for me was that this was a cross-platform video conference: I was using a Macintosh and they were using a Windows computer. I was able to see the audience and the screen while I was presenting (to make sure that we were on the same slide). Other than it being early in the morning for me, and my voice had not warmed up, I was fairly pleased with the results. I think they were pleased also.

At MacWorld, I also saw a demonstration of the new iChat in the next version of OS X, which would allow screen sharing with another Macintosh on the Internet. That looks like a great way to conduct these types of video presentations. However, until the rest of the world wakes up to the superiority of the Macintosh, there will be few opportunities to use this tool (can you tell that I am an Apple Distinguished Educator?). For now, I will use Skype and may try doing SkypeCasting.


Monday, October 16, 2006


EIFE-L Conference 2006

I just left the fourth annual EuroPortfolio conference sponsored by EIFE-L. My keynote presentation on the second morning was entitled, Voice and Interactivity in ePortfolios: Digital Stories and Web 2.0. It was based on two articles that I have on my website: Authentic Assessment with Electronic Portfolios using Common Software and Web 2.0 Tools and Purposes of Digital Stories in ePortfolios. I will post the podcast of my presentation here when I finish editing it, adding my slides.

One of the things I emphasized was the need for “every day-ness” or how we can make ePortfolio development a natural process integrated into everyday life supporting Lifelong and Life Wide Learning. I also mentioned Social Learning, or how we can integrate ePortfolio development with what Vygotsky told us about learning as an interactive social activity. I also mentioned that the Architecture of Interaction (Web 2.0) allows a Pedagogy of Interaction (ePortfolio 2.0).

I took the opportunity to create a new graphic that describes a "mash-up" of different Web 2.0 tools that could be combined together for a powerful ePortfolio system, using a variety of online tools that students might already be using. These are generic tools or types of digital documents that can be created by any system. The important components are interactivity and multimedia.
ePortfolio Mash-Up

I discussed three emerging Models for Portfolios
mPortfolios (Mobility)
iPortfolios (Interactivity)
Digital Stories (Voice) facilitating Individual Identity, Reflection, and Meaning Making.

Thanks to my friend Evangeline Stefanakis, I showed that Portfolios are Lived Stories and that the real power of the portfolio is personal by showing the story that I am currently living. It was a risk, but the response was gratifying.

There are some exciting developments and new tools that were shown at this conference. Every year the field matures. I did not have a chance to attend the "plug-fest" on the first day, so I was limited in my observation of the technical developments. Elizabeth Hartnell-Young will be researching the use of Nokia mobile phones in ePortfolio development in schools. I also learned that there is another ePortfolio conference planned for Asia in March. Here is the schedule:
March 19-20, 2007 - Hong Kong
March 26-27, 2007 - Melbourne, Australia
March 29-30, 2007 - Wellington, N.Z.

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Saturday, July 15, 2006


WebCT Conference

I just left the WebCT Users Conference, where I provided the closing keynote address. The feedback was good. I was told by one of the executives (who shared a ride with me to the airport) that it was the best electronic portfolio presentation he had seen, because I dealt with a lot of content. At other conferences I have received feedback that perhaps I put too much content into my presentation, but this was a higher education audience and I heard a lot of appreciation for the books I referenced. In the airport, I bought Friedman's latest version of The World is Flat, and skimmed it for the updates that he made since the book was originally published a year earlier. I also added a couple of new slides to my presentation, about his impression of skills needed for a "flat" world.

I attended most of the conference, sitting in on all of the presentations about their newly-released electronic portfolio product, that is integrated with their course management system. While they have not provided me with a demo account yet, to be able to add that system to my "Online Portfolio Adventure," from the literature and the demonstrations, it appears to be student-centered and allows individuality and creativity. They are keeping the assessment management separate from the portfolio, developing another product called Caliper which is designed as a comprehensive assessment system. Caliper is not available this year, and it was not clear when it would be released, but the portfolio is available now for the more current installations of WebCT.

The man who presented the Caliper tool talked about the "positivist" (Caliper) and "constructivist" (Portfolio) versions of their tools (institution-centered vs. student-centered)! I was asked by one of the leaders from one of the pilot sites whether I worked with them on their portfolio development, since it seemed to represent my philosophy. I told him that I did not, but that my philosophy is published on my website for anyone to read! And I base my philosophy on some of the early portfolio literature, where the positivist/constructivist tension is introducted by Paulson & Paulson in 1994.

Since WebCT has been acquired by Blackboard, I am wondering what will happen with the original Blackboard portfolio. It was obvious at this conference that every WebCT product was being re-branded with the Blackboard name. Next year's users conference will be a combined WebCT/Blackboard conference in Boston.

The new WebCT portfolio only allows students to have a single portfolio, although they can create different views for different audiences by turning sections on and off. The tool has a blog and appears to seamlessly save any work created in a course into the portfolio, where it will be preserved after the course is over. If discussions are saved, the entries (other than the portfolio owner) are made anonymous. One feature that is not fully developed appears to be the export function. I understand that the tool will allow students to export their work, but not the structure of the portfolio, something that I think is essential.

I also got a peek at the new version of the TaskStream WebFolio builder that will be released next Tuesday, July 18. I am impressed! I will provide more details after I have a chance to update my portfolio with the new version.

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Thursday, July 06, 2006


NECC06 Conference

NECC 2006 is being held in San Diego. I worked with two of my REFLECT site coordinators to make a presentation during the first session on the first morning. We were impressed with the number of people present during that early hour, on the morning after the fireworks. We were also impressed with the types of questions being asked. After the presentation, I ran into other people who were there, and the dialogue continued.

This morning, one person asked me the usual question about my recommendations about free or low cost tools. Of course I said that was not the first question to ask... determine the purpose first, and then look at the tools to best meet those goals. He asked about Elgg, an open source ePortfolio tool. I told him that this software had a lot of promise as a blog, archive and social networking tool, all important components of a working portfolio. However, it is still missing the presentation builder that allows a learner to organize presentation portfolios for different purposes or audiences (a component that is part of their development plan). Of course that is one problem with open source software... without a business model to support the development, it can take longer to implement changes unless there is a regular funding stream. My experience with commercial tools shows that the companies are very responsive to their customer base, and have the resources to support ongoing support and development. Educators in schools need to recognize that they often get what they pay for, and the commercial market needs to look at how to make their products more affordable for schools. Somewhere in between free and $?? there is a sweet spot. I'm not sure we are there yet.

In the Open Source resource area, I found an electronic portfolio being designed to link with Moodle. When I looked at a demo it became apparent that this tool is being created as a digital archive of student work, with reflection on each artifact as it is uploaded. However, it does not have a presentation builder, so that a learner can construct a reflective story about a group of artifacts. While talking to the developer, he indicated that the Open University in the U.K. was building an electronic portfolio that they are tying into Moodle, that has five developers and so they are planning to include a presentation builder with templates. This open source software will supposedly be available in 2007. I hope I will see it at the EuroPortfolio conference in October in Oxford. I also learned that the University of Denver is thinking of modifying their portfolio system and making it available to the public for free.

I just heard Nicholas Negraponte talk about the $100 laptop that is being designed primarily for students in third world countries. Fascinating project. Their website says that they are not marketing to individuals or to school districts in the U.S. Their primary target groups are national governments in the developing world. But I think I have seen a vision of where laptops will be in the next decade. What I like is the low power requirements (>2 watts) and the ability to charge the NiMh battery by human power. I also like the simplicity of the system. I agree with several of his points: we don't need Caps Lock keys, and the software today is very bloated. When I think about what features I currently use in the software I have, and the time it takes to load the system, I long for the days when I could turn on my Radio Shack WP10 and just start writing!

I sat in a presentation on the University of Vermont's Portfolio Connection, a research project on electronic portfolios in teacher education programs throughout the state of Vermont. I was impressed by Joyce Morriss's Webquest on electronic portfolios. Their findings are very interesting: the student assessment portfolios built for accreditation are deadly dull; the professional portfolios that the student construct for showcase and employment are diverse and show the students' authentic voice!

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Friday, June 30, 2006


2007 ePortfolio Conferences "Down Under"

I have just been invited to participate in two more ePortfolio Conferences, one in Melbourne, Australia on March 26-27, 2007, and the other in Wellington, New Zealand on April 2-3, 2007.


Wednesday, April 12, 2006


Research (and Finally Home!)

I've been traveling since I returned from the trip to Italy: from a meeting and the CUE conference in Palm Springs, to school site visits in Arizona, New Jersey, Maryland, and California, to the SITE and FETC conferences, a dissertation defense and a meeting in Orlando, to the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Conference in San Francisco. It is good to be back home, even for a few weeks. I've seen a lot of classrooms (as part of the site visits for the REFLECT Initiative) and I've talked to a lot of educators, both in schools and at the conferences. A few of my impressions:

In Florida, it seemed like the role of digital storytelling in education has become more prominent. The FETC conference had many workshops on digital storytelling. The SITE conference hosted a keynote address by Joe Lambert (see my last entry and the new SITE Digital Storytelling blog). I led a roundtable on Researching Digital Storytelling and attended several other sessions throughout the conference. I also saw a new tool that was under development at the University of Virginia, to use primary source images in constructing online digital stories, primarily in social studies classes. The tools are becoming very interesting, and varied.

AERA is always a very enlightening conference, giving a glimpse into the current state of education. I attended sessions over the weekend, and led my own roundtable on the REFLECT Initiative Research project. A session on the role of technology in portfolios in Teacher Education gave me more concerns about the lack of authenticity in the accreditation portfolio process. I was impressed that a paper presented by an educator from Australia, that reported the real value of the portfolio process happened when teachers actually developed portfolios with their own students. I also heard Larry Cuban talk about the problems with researching educational technology in schools. He emphasized the importance of collecting data "on the ground" in schools, and not to confuse correllation with causation. He is rarely invited to speak in technology meetings, because of his book Oversold and Underused and his presentation reinforced the need for triangulation of data in educational technology research, which made me comfortable with the multiple methods that we are using to gather data in the REFLECT research. I also had an opportunity to re-connect with Evangeline Harris Stefanakis, whose book on Multiple Intelligences and Portfolios is one of my favorites.

I also had an opportunity to hear the latest presentations by Neal Strudler and Keith Wetzel about their sabbatical study on electronic portfolios. They have published their papers and presentations online, and their study provides an interesting picture of the status of six Teacher Education programs who are "mature" users of electronic portfolios. Their latest article, "Costs and benefits of electronic portfolios in teacher education: Student voices," is especially interesting, focusing on student views of this process. I heard from them, anecdotally, that for some of the students they interviewed, the term portfolio was a dirty word, or at least the experience was too much work for the benefits. Their paper outlines the benefits of the reflection that is central to the portfolio, but also outlined the disadvantages as well.

I also attended a session at AERA on the impact of high stakes assessment on technology implementation in laptop schools (ubiquitous computing). The study was conducted at the University of Virginia. It should be no surprise that the middle school teachers in the study had to focus more of their time on preparing students for the testing than providing the types of rich experiences that could be gained from the available ubiquitous computing. That study was very depressing.

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Sunday, March 05, 2006


Conference in Florence

I have just participated in a conference in Florence, Italy, which had a focus on the future of education, sponsored by Indire, an Italian educational research organization in Florence. It was an old model for a conference where we sat and listened to presenters all morning (the traditional process did not match the evolutionary content, but I guess you have to start with a process where people are comfortable). The afternoon program was another three hours of presentations, no breaks, no interaction. At the end of the day, there was an interesting performance by a mime, and in between different session, they showed a silent video on the wall in the auditorium, with different people walking by and peering into the camera. In many ways I felt like I was in the middle of a Fellini movie! It reminded me of the experience I had in college, watching La Strada, and not understanding the movie or the culture. This movie and mime performance seemed like the same experience.

I provided the last presentation on the second morning and I included a little group interaction at the beginning. After I was done, they allowed 30 minutes of questions from the audience, but most of the questions were really speeches, all in Italian, of course. We all had wireless translation devices with earphones, they could hear the translation from English (most of the presentations) and we could hear the introductions and discussion by the presentation chairs (all in Italian). Actually, I was surprised at how well the bilingual translation worked for me.

We were told that this was actually the first International Education Conference held in Italy in quite a few years. All of the presenters were from outside of Italy, although I was the only one from the U.S. Other presenters were from Iceland, Holland, France, Australia, England, and Spain. There were about 400 educators present. But I could tell that they had little experience with this type of event: no coffee breaks, all sitting in one room, no interaction until the very end. But it was an interesting experience. I met some great people, and I still have a workshop to do on Monday afternoon for a smaller group at the Indire office. I think they want me to teach a distance class for them on electronic portfolios (no traveling, they said!). We'll see what happens and how it would work.

I'm glad I made the decision to come to this conference. I now realize that my initial impressions about this event was from their relatively inexperience with this type of event. I think I added a different dimension to the event, especially after I showed my granddaughter's 2nd grade portfolio and autobiography as an example of an electronic portfolio with a digital story. They applauded after her story was over. The Italian version of the portfolio is more of an assessment record kept by the teacher, not owned by the student. Teachers resent the additional effort (no wonder!). This is another example of the perversion of the concept of the portfolio, co-opted by a government for large scale assessment. My perspective provided a very different definition for them. One gentleman held up his wallet: that was his portfolio to keep valuable little items inside. I said that was very similar to an educational portfolio, containing valuable items for the learner to keep.
[posted from an Internet cafe in Florence]


Tuesday, December 13, 2005


Conferences "Down Under"

I am now stateside, after spending more than two weeks in Australia, ending with the ePortfolio New Zealand conference in Auckland. The ASCILITE conference in Brisbane was an interesting experience. I led a "Learning Circle" at the end of each of the first two days of the conference, focusing on ePortfolios and Digital Storytelling. We asked the participants on the first day to do a "fast write" with their reflections on the conference themes. After collecting their brief jottings, a few came up right away and audio recorded their reflections. The next day, we shared what had been collected so far, recorded a few more, and talked about illustrating the reflections with images. On the last day, we recorded the last of the audio clips, gathered as many images as we could, and then constructed most of two different digital stories in about three hours. In the plenary session on the last day, I showed both stories, even though one was not quite complete. While not the way I would prefer to put together digital stories, I learned what could be done under pressure!

On the following two days, I led workshops at QUT, including a half-day digital storytelling workshop. I was surprised that quite a few of the participants developed one-to-two minute stories that they recorded, after our very short hands-on activity. At least eight people had time to write a brief story and have it recorded.

On Monday, I was in Auckland, providing the opening keynote to the ePortfolio New Zealand conference. This meeting was organized by Eifel, as an extension of their conferences in Europe and last year in Melbourne. Although there were about 60 participants, and the conference only lasted a day and a half, it was a very good conference, one of the best ePortfolio conferences that I participated in. I thought there was a lot of opportunity for dialogue, built into the program and during breaks. On the second day, I shared a session on Digital Storytelling with a professional developer from Australia.

We decided to make the session somewhat interactive and hands-on. After demonstrations of a few digital stories, we asked the participants to spend five minutes doing a short reflection on the conference so far. We then had about a half hour to record their reflections. I have five people who recorded 30 second to one minute reflections. The other person recorded directly into PhotoStory. We played the clips at the end of the conference in the plenary session.

I was skeptical when we planned the ASCILITE activity, but it worked so well that I did a briefer version at the ePortfolio conference. Now, Eifel has some audio to add to their website about the conference. I think it also helped the participants see how the process works within a reflective portfolio framework. Oh, yes, and my new microphone was a great hit and worked beautifully with Sound Studio and with the one Windows computer I hooked it up to during my hands-on workshop in Adelaide. However, it did not work with my version of Audacity for the Mac. Hmmmm....

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Sunday, August 28, 2005


EPortfolio New Zealand

I decided to participate in the ePortfolio New Zealand conference that will be held in Auckland on December 12-13, 2005. It just delays my departure from "down under" by three days. That conference follows e-portfolio meetings in Adelaide (December 1-2) and Brisbane (ASCILITE conference on December 4-7 and Queensland University of Technology ePortfolio Symposium on December 8-9).


Wednesday, July 27, 2005


A new keynote topic

I've just sent the following description to the EuroPortfolio conference for my keynote at their next meeting in Cambridge, England on October 27, 2005:
Title: E-portfolios: digital stories of lifelong and lifewide learning
Description: The potential of e-portfolios to support lifelong and lifewide learning is limited only by our current technologies, limited experience, and narrow vision. Let's imagine what could happen if every citizen was issued personal web server space that they would own for a lifetime? This Digital Archive for Life (DAL) would provide space to store the raw materials for e-portfolios, archives of family records, genealogy and digital stories, autobiographies, child development data (such as digital versions of New Zealand's "Plunket books"), evidence of personal and professional accomplishments, and all kinds of personal information. From cradle to grave, see examples of how we could store and celebrate the results of lifelong and lifewide learning.
This keynote will give me an opportunity to focus on a variety of developments that are already taking place, like OurMedia and other websites that offer more limited free webspace, such as this blogging service! I can also share more of our digital family stories. In a half hour, I won't have time to share my thoughts on the importance of reflection, storytelling and deep learning, but I'll make sure I model it!


Sunday, July 17, 2005


A Wonderful Week in N.Z.

I have been in New Zealand for a week, and my head is just spinning! First, I participated in the ULearn05 conference in Auckland during the first three days last week. It reminds me of the special quality of our early Alaska computer conferences. It was a special treat for me to reconnect with Ian Jukes as well, who was a favorite presenter at our early Alaska conferences. I enjoyed sharing my passion for digital storytelling, both in a hands-on workshop and in my closing keynote address on Wednesday afternoon. I was really impressed with the special Maori ceremonies that opened and closed the conference. I just wish I understood what was being said.

On Thursday, I traveled to Christchurch, and had a short meeting with the developer of Interact, about the portfolio tools that he is building into this open source learning management software. I am very interested in the development of this software. I had downloaded an earlier version of Interact and placed it on my own server space, since the requirements were simply PHP and MySQL. I am anxious to see the next version of the software, which he hopes to have ready by the term starting in August. On Friday, I met with the Christchurch College of Education, and by the end of the afternoon, I had more converts to doing digital storytelling as part of e-portfolios.

On Friday evening, I flew to Dunedin for the weekend. I spent many hours this weekend with the authors of the book on Learning through Storytelling in Higher Education. My head is still spinning from our wonderful conversations this weekend. I will be thinking about our dialogue a lot over the next few weeks. For the first time, I made a presentation to nurse educators plus some hands-on e-portfolio activities in a computer lab, and showed a lot of digital stories. Yep, more converts to digital storytelling! It became apparent that health care professionals can use digital stories in their practice. It was very special to talk about reflection at such a deep level with these "experts" on storytelling in learning. Today we had more dialogue and I showed more digital stories. Their observations about the poetic quality of many of these stories confirmed my own impressions, shared at the Kean conference in June.

I have returned to Christchurch, preparing for three more days of meetings before my return home. This has been a magical trip. There is something very special about the people of New Zealand! I hope to come back on a regular basis!

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Wednesday, June 29, 2005


NECC05 Conference

I can finally relax. All of my presentations are over. I did a hands-on workshop for NECC on Sunday. Then, I met with the site leaders of the TaskStream REFLECT Initiative research project on Monday. It was a great day. All the time we spent focusing on the planning for this workshop was well worth the effort. We were able to facilitate a lot of discussion among the participants, and to lay out the research plan, and the various components of the professional development (the regional workshops, the online professional development, the onsite visits, etc.). After this meeting, I was more excited about the project. I also realized how much work was ahead of me. This will be much more intense than my PT3 grant. And I thought I was retiring!

The National Educational Computing Conference (NECC) is just like "old home week" or "same time, next year" - my annual renewal with my technology-in-education buddies. It is fun to reconnect, to announce my retirement, and to celebrate with 15,000+ people! I also did a presentation yesterday called, "Enhancing Student Voices in ePortfolios through Blogging and Digital Storytelling." The desciption of the session was:
Are your e-portfolios standardized checklists of skills or constructivist stories of learning? Learn about open-source or free strategies that increase student voice in learner-centered e-portfolios.
The overwhelmingly positive reaction from participants who were there has been very gratifying. I had one of those "Aha!" experiences when I realized at the end of my presentation, the link between my "Choices" digital story and my message about ePortfolios. When I quote Robert Frost's poem (and my last titles were: Go where no one else has gone... and leave a trail), I urged the participants to take the road "less traveled by" with ePortfolios. Make them digital stories of deep learning, not standardized checklists of skills!


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