Friday, December 25, 2009

 

The New Family Album/Diary

For the last six months, my daughter has been living with me, giving me an opportunity to observe how the younger generation lives with technology (not that I don't... but most of my generation of friends and colleagues only use email, not social networks). My Christmas presents from her today were: a windshield mount for my iPhone and a Phillips 8x10 electronic picture frame, to show up to 1,000 photos (one of the few electronic gadgets I have not already bought for myself!). She and I both have iPhones where we can both capture images... she just captures most of hers with the Facebook app and immediately uploads them to her account. Last weekend, we went to a Messiah concert, she took pictures, and had comments from her friends before the concert was over. She has developed a habit of documenting her experiences with her iPhone and Facebook, creating the 21st Century form of the family photo album and diary combined. She has demonstrated the "everydayness" of documenting her experiences because she has a handy tool, and the motivation to share among her far-flung community of friends... who provide feedback through comments.

The ability to immediately document (and also reflect) on experience, and receive immediate feedback from both peers and mentors, is what we need in the academic e-portfolio development process. I am not advocating using Facebook for academic portfolios, but I am witnessing many portfolio processes that can be supported by adding this capability to any number of available systems (already available with most blogs): a social networking app that works with a mobile device (including a camera... missing from the iPod Touch right now). The iPhone/iPod Touch also has the capability to record audio clips, important for younger learners, or those who reflect better with their voices than with their fingers. (There is Dragon Dictation on the iPhone that seems to do a fairly good job of translating spoken words to text... in a quiet place... it didn't work for me when I tried it in an airport Food Court... would that be similar to a busy classroom?).

The tools are slowly starting to emerge to facilitate the workspace/learning/process portfolio, or eDoL (Electronic Documentation of Learning). As we approach the end of this decade, and I reflect upon how much technology has changed in the last 10 years, it is pretty exciting to think about where it will be at the end of the next decade (an appropriate reflection for New Year's Eve?). It is an exciting time to be exploring the potential, and to help others find the relevance of these social networking processes in the service of lifelong learning. Such a gift!

Merry Christmas! (my annual Christmas letter)

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

 

mPortfolios (m=mobile)

Nick Rate, an educator from New Zealand (and fellow ADE) who published a paper last year for the Ministry of Education on Assessment for Learning and ePortfolios, has just written a few blog posts about using mobile devices to maintain student-centered mPortfolios using the iPod Touch. As he said in a previous post last year:
I see a huge potential in how mobile technologies can contribute to this area and it relates closely to some of the core beliefs I have about ePortfolios. The ability to share, for the purpose of receiving relevant and constructive feedback to improve learning, can only really happen if the learning is shared or made available almost immediately.

The web can make his happen. A blog post with embedded media takes minutes and then it’s there, ready to share. But a web based portfolio does not necessarily mean that parents will view it and share in the learning. And if they do, will they leave a comment? Will they view the learning with their child?
The physical presence of a portable device, like an iPod touch, could significantly change this. A child bringing home an iPod containing their learning gives an opportunity for sharing, not dependent on a broadband connection, taking only on a few minutes of time with mum or dad. Feedback is instant. Praise here and a suggestion here. Done.
His most recent blog posts focus on some of the software available for the iPod Touch that could be used to support mPortfolios:
I learned about a few new apps available for the iPod Touch/iPhone, and his discussion raises a lot of possibilities for developing mPortfolios. The challenge is in the interactivity: a web browser is needed to add comments and provide feedback. It looks like these tools can support the presentation but not necessarily the conversation about learning. Still, these developments are in the right direction, especially when combined with web-based solutions that provide the interactivity.

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