Tuesday, February 23, 2010


ASB India

I am working on my TEDxIndia presentation on Thursday in Mumbai. I've been in India for a week, and it has been a spectacular trip, both visiting the American School of Bombay, and spending the weekend in Delhi and Agra (including a visit to the beautiful Taj Mahal!). It has been fascinating to see what can be done within a 1-to-1 laptop program, beginning in 3rd grade. I have been meeting with a variety of teachers for the last week, answering questions about ePortfolios, and trying to demystify the process. This is a PYP elementary school, and the students have been maintaining paper portfolios for quite a while, so adopting an electronic portfolio is natural transition in their 1-to-1 program.

I've been working with some of the teachers over the year, with short web/audio conferences on a monthly basis, and I am excited to see what the 3rd grade students have achieved using Google Sites. They have set up pages for each content  area using the Announcements page type, adding entries on a regular basis. One teacher says some of the students are making entries on their own, without prompting. The school videotaped those students talking about their portfolios. Many of their comments were priceless! I am hoping they will post the video online, so that I can link to it.

I am preparing for my TEDxIndia talk. The narrative is posted as a GoogleDocs document, and the slides are posted to SlideShare.
I would love some feedback on the ideas about how the boundaries are blurring between Social Networking and ePortfolio Development, and the need for more intrinsic motivation, based on Dan Pink's book, Drive.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009


TEDx India presentation

In February 2010 I will be in Mumbai, India, at ASB Un-Plugged 2010, an International Schools Conference. Prior to the conference, I have been invited to make a presentation at TEDxASB, which will be held at the American School of Bombay on February 25th, 2010 between 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm. The theme of the TEDx event is “Embracing Leadership, Innovation, and Change”. The audience will consist of the participants of ASB Un-Plugged 2010 and members of the ASB community -- parents, faculty and students.

Here is my proposed presentation:

Social Networks and Interactive Portfolios: Blurring the Boundaries

Electronic Portfolios have been with us for almost two decades, used primarily in education to store documents and reflect on learning, provide feedback for improvement, and showcase achievements for accountability or employment. Social networks have emerged over the last five years, used by individuals and groups to store documents and share experiences, showcase accomplishments, communicate and collaborate with friends and family, and, in some cases, facilitate employment searches. The boundaries between these two processes are gradually blurring. As we consider the potential of lifelong e-portfolios, will they resemble the structured accountability systems that are currently being implemented in many higher education institutions? Or are we beginning to see lifelong interactive portfolios emerging as mash-ups in the Web 2.0 cloud, using blogs, wikis, Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr, YouTube, etc.? There are many similarities between these two processes; the major differences are in extrinsic vs. intrinsic motivation (Dan Pink's concept of autonomy, mastery, and purpose). This presentation will draw on Pink's new book, Drive, and how blurring the boundaries between social networks and e-portfolios could motivate people to adopt the portfolio processes of collection, reflection, selection/presentation, interaction, and collaboration to support lifelong learning.

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Monday, December 28, 2009


Motivation and Selecting an ePortfolio System

I have pre-ordered Dan Pink's new book, Drive, which is all about motivation in business, but the more I read, from his newsletter and website, the more I can see application in education. Pink quotes Internet guru and author Clay Shirky (www.shirky.com):
...the most successful websites and electronic forums have a certain Type I approach [to motivation] in their DNA. They're designed-often explicitly--to tap into intrinsic motivation. You can do the same with your online presences if you listen to Shirky and:
• Create an environment that makes people feel good about participating.
• Give users autonomy.
• Keep the system as open as possible.
These criteria came to mind as I recall the following e-mail message I received a week ago:
My school district has been using a ePortfolio system for over three years now with limited success, and is currently researching ePortfolio alternatives.  While I have found numerous platforms that are currently on the market, I have not found any recent articles which compare and contrast these options.  We are particularly focused on adopting a system that will easily allow us to aggregate/export data surrounding student achievement of specific learning goals, primarily as they relate to gradation requirements, but also as a manner to track the consistency of learning and teaching which occurs across the school.

Is there a particular ePortfolio platform that you feel is especially adept at accomplishing these tasks, or an article that you might recommend?
I really wonder what he means by "limited success" but here is part of my response: [after referencing my April 22 blog entry]:
So, you need to decide whether you want an electronic portfolio or an assessment management system. When you describe "a system that will easily allow us to aggregate/export data surrounding student achievement of specific learning goals, primarily as they relate to gradation requirements, but also as a manner to track the consistency of learning and teaching which occurs across the school" that sounds like an institution-centered assessment management system, not a student-centered ePortfolio.  For what purpose of assessment? Accountability or Improvement? (see my recent blog entry and the associated White Paper). There are a variety of recommendations in that blog entry.

In a recent presentation at the Assessment Conference in Indianapolis in October, I made the following point about "Opportunity Cost" (what you give up when you make a decision). You might also be interested in an article on the Limitations of Portfolios.

I don't know what systems you have considered. Do you have a server where you could install Mahara (an open source portfolio tool created in New Zealand)? Did you look at Digication? My research is on students developing student-centered ePortfolios using a variety of free Web 2.0 tools (that they can continue to use after they graduate), primarily GoogleApps (Docs, Sites) or WordPress/EduBlogs. These systems are not used to collect quantitative data about student learning. For that purpose, you could use a data management system that allows you to link to student-centered online portfolio artifacts.

I'm not sure this answers your questions, but the tools today are very primitive, and not well balanced between accountability and improvement. Also, most of the research has been done in higher education, not in K-12. If only we could just capture the engagement of Facebook into an ePortfolio system... but I do not advocate using social networks for ePortfolios... just incorporate those strategies into ePortfolio systems. The only one I know of that tries to include those social networking strategies in a hosted system is Epsilen.com.
So, in addition to the functional criteria for evaluating e-portfolio systems, what about some motivational principles for that are aligned with Shirky's three criteria, where students feel good about participating, giving them some autonomy, while keeping the system as open as possible? Can we also consider Dan Pink's motivating workplace environment that promotes autonomy, mastery, and purpose?

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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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