Monday, March 29, 2010

 

WORDLE on ePortfolios

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic From Twitter today: "RT @chamada RT @RobinThailand: The Tweeple have spoken! A WORDLE on ePortfolios created by Twitter submissions. Thanks all.  http://twitpic.com/1bv58m"

My first impression: Why is the word assessment larger than the word reflection?
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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

 

Discovering your "something"

Today, President Obama said:
Every single one of you has something you're good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That's the opportunity an education can provide.
He also told students, "stay focused, find something you're passionate about... set goals and work hard to achieve them." I would add: How will you know what that "something" is? We all need a space where we discover, explore, and document what we are good at... what we have to offer. What better place for than exploration than a reflective portfolio, to highlight our strengths and passions? In an online journal/portfolio, we can share our goals and dreams with ourselves and our teachers, friends and family. That's an opportunity an ePortfolio can provide.

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

 

ePortfolios and new Accountability Systems

I was doing a search on Google Scholar this week, using the terms "electronic portfolios in elementary education." I came across the following abstract for an article ... the title of the article really hit a nerve with me: Will Mandating Portfolios Undermine Their Value?
Mandating portfolios on a system wide or statewide basis may destroy one of their greatest assets: allowing students to reflect on their learning and feel a sense of hope and control. Once standards are defined by an outside authority, teacher-student collaboration is minimized and the importance of students' own goals and learning assessment diminishes.
-- Case, Susan H. (1994) Will Mandating Portfolios Undermine Their Value? Educational Leadership, v52 n2 p46-47 Oct 1994
This quote underlines the challenge we have with mandating portfolios: how do we maintain student engagement and ownership? Then, again, if there is no extrinsic motivator or mandate, where is the intrinsic motivation to reflect on learning, especially when there are so many competing priorities in our students' lives? If only we could capture the motivation behind social networks to facilitate reflection on learning! That is the place where students reflect on life, albeit most often with a more social, less academic focus.

From my brief longitudinal review of the literature, it is obvious that the research on portfolios focused on K-12 schools in the 90s, and switched over to higher education since 2000. Perhaps the reason focuses on two factors: No Child Left Behind (2001) federal legislation changed the focus of assessment from the K-12 classroom to statewide standardized testing for high stakes accountability; and NCATE 2000 accreditation requirements for Teacher Education programs required establishment of Assessment Management Systems to document teacher candidate achievement and program improvement. In 2002, the Chronicle of Higher Education also declared that ePortfolios were the "next big thing" in IT... and college students provide an easily-researched population for faculty with research and publishing requirements.

While the direction for the renewal of NCLB has not been finalized, there are indications that a broader definition of assessment will allow multiple measures of achievement, supporting more formative, classroom-based assessment, which will make portfolios more popular in K-12 schools. Maybe the portfolio pendulum will move back toward K-12. President Obama made the following statement in his March 10, 2009 speech on Education:
And I'm calling on our nation's governors and state education chiefs to develop standards and assessments that don't simply measure whether students can fill in a bubble on a test, but whether they possess 21st century skills like problem-solving and critical thinking and entrepreneurship and creativity.
Wouldn't an electronic portfolio help a student showcase these 21st century skills... especially creativity? The Obama Education Plan contained the following statement:
Develop better student assessments that allow teachers and parents to identify and focus on individual needs and talents throughout the school year. Technology can help get information about student performance to teachers and parents in real time, and support ongoing efforts to improve student performance in an area of weakness and support student success in areas where the student shows particular interest or aptitude.
Shouldn't an electronic portfolio be one of those formative assessment tools, allowing a student to showcase their successes... and empower them to assess their own work? I advocate an ePortfolio that is student-centered, emphasizing student ownership and "voice" (as highlighted in the NZ report in my last blog entry). There are other tools that can be used as institution-centered data-collection systems. I hope these two approaches won't get confused... or combined. Otherwise, K-12 ePortfolios will look like many of the ePortfolios produced in Teacher Education programs today, which are, to quote Hartnell-Young and Morriss, "heavy with documentation but light on passion."

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Sunday, May 31, 2009

 

Google Sites on Reflection and Assessment

I am developing two more Google Sites with resources to support different processes in ePortfolio development. Earlier I announced a Google Site on ePortfolio Surveys, since I have been receiving requests for surveys that can be used in ePortfolio implementation studies.

The two new sites that I am developing are:
I have chosen to develop these pages in Google Sites, so that I could invite other educators to assist with the development of these resources. Educators may contact me to be added as a collaborator on any of these sites.

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Friday, May 08, 2009

 

VoiceThread for ePortfolios

There has been a lot of chatter online about using VoiceThread as an ePortfolio publishing environment. In an online class, I became aware of the following link: VoiceThread as a Digital Portfolio - a teacher blog entry with instructions and two examples of digital stories using VoiceThread for student-led conferences in fifth grade. In the first example, the feedback is in the form of text, in the second there are several voice comments; a great way to involve parents! There are two really good examples of reflection that focus on what the students learned, the challenges, and their goals for improvement in different content areas.

I recently wrote to the teacher who wrote that blog entry, requesting a copy of the booklet that she used to scaffold the students' reflections. This is the response that I got this morning:
I'd just like to share with you this little thought too. Do you remember speaking in New Zealand a number of years ago, at the ULearn Conference in Auckland? You were one of the keynote speakers and you spoke about the power of telling stories - you shared with us one story that combined photos, pictures, music and voice. Your keynote really struck a chord with me, as you emphasised the beauty and power of simplicity and choice. I base most of my digital storytelling and digital portfolio work with students on the things I took away from your keynote.
You can imagine how "tickled" I am now to be giving back something to you. Thank you for the inspiration back then and for the continued inspiration into ePortfolios.
Wow! It is thrilling to get this type of feedback from a keynote presentation that I gave in 2005.

Early childhood technology expert Gail Lovely, quoted in an article in T.H.E. Journal, says "The power of this [tool]...is in the commenting." Here are some resources from the VoiceThread website:

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Friday, May 01, 2009

 

ePortfolio Surveys

I am developing a new Google Site to collect surveys on Electronic Portfolios. I invite others to share surveys that they have used for different purposes within the context of Electronic Portfolio Development.

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

 

Feedback on Diagram

I posted the diagram in my last post to my Google Group "Researching Lifelong Portfolios and Web 2.0" and received some great feedback on it. So I updated it on the list. Today, I received a Spanish version of the diagram in my email from a teacher educator in Madrid! I love Web 2.0!

As I said in one of my posts in that discussion, "This is an example of how a social network can provoke critical thinking! I have modified the diagram, because I recognize that the process is not always linear. However, when a novice begins the process of building toward some type of presentation portfolio (the "product" or showcase in this diagram), it helps to have a sequence of tasks to complete. So I took the comments into consideration as I revised the diagram..."

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Friday, January 30, 2009

 

Balancing 2 Faces of ePortfolios

Balancing the Two Faces of ePortfolios

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

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Monday, December 22, 2008

 

EQ and ePortfolios

Daniel Goleman defines emotional intelligence as:
the capacity for recognising our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves and for managing emotions effectively in others and ourselves.
I found this diagram online:
While the source of this diagram is focused on success in organizations, these abilities are essential for success in education at all levels. While most of this model focuses on empathy and interpersonal skills, the Personal competencies (Who I am... self awareness and What I do... self-motivation) is well documented in reflections that are the "heart and soul" of a reflective journal/portfolio.

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Monday, December 08, 2008

 

Blogging and Reflection in ePortfolios

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

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

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

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

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Saturday, June 07, 2008

 

Learning about ePortfolios

Last week, I added a new page to my website: Learning about Electronic Portfolios. I converted the "open source" MOSEP course, created by the Salzburg Research Forschungsgesellschaft under a European Commission grant, into HTML format (I found their wiki hard to navigate, and impossible to link to specific pages within the course). After I finished, I discovered the PDF version of their course materials online, but it is still impossible to link to specific lessons in the course! I also posted the course that I have been constructing about Web 2.0 Tools for Lifelong & Life Wide Learning. The course includes "Portfolio Pointers" on how to use the different Web 2.0 tools to construct an online portfolio "mashup".

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Saturday, May 17, 2008

 

Friday Live featuring WSU

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

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

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

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

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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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Friday, April 04, 2008

 

eDOL: Electronic Documentation of Learning

In my AERA conference blog entry, I mentioned the research done at the University of Calgary and their concept of eDOL: Electronic Documentation of Learning, which is essentially a reflective journal that teacher candidates maintain. For more information, they have a short article in the campus newletter, and a longer article in Field Notes, the MT Program Newsletter Fall 2007 (entitled Learning to document Learning Online - an introduction to edoL on pages 8-9 in this PDF).
eDOL has evolved into two interrelated components – an eJournal and a series of ePortfolios... eJournals provide students with a rich, personalized learning object repository from which to draw content for the development of their ePortfolios.

It is the tie between the journals and the portfolios, which distinguishes our work, and we have been drawn to four key observations:
  • the journals, together with the portfolios, honor both the process and the product, providing evidence of what it means to become a teacher,
  • there is value in learning to digitally document evidence learning. Pedagogical documentation is more than collecting photographs from schools; it is the thoughtful collecting, editing, and selecting of images to support reflection,
  • our students have found value in eDOL as a unifying project to build coherence as they move through the various components of our program, and
  • eDOL has given the students a sense that they are finishing their university experience “with a place to start.”
The University of Calgary has added an important dimension to the ePortfolio literature, by emphasizing the importance of process (the eJournals or blogs) as much as the product (the ePortfolios).

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

 

Correspondence on Digital Archives & ePortfolios

I received another message from Mike Caulfield in reference to a previous dialogue that we had:
Recently there’s been a rather vigorous discussion in my part of the blogosphere about what we’ve been calling the “Inverted LMS”
http://mikecaulfield.com/2007/07/06/isa-hasa-and-the-inverted-lms/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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