Sunday, March 14, 2010

 

TEDxASB Presentation

The video of my TEDxASB presentation has been posted to YouTube.

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 achievement 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?

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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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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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Monday, July 06, 2009

 

Social Networking reaching critical mass?

I feel like my social networks are changing. This last weekend, my closest family members established Facebook accounts. My daughter had an account before I did, and she uses it a lot with her face-to-face friends. She left her Budapest friends with the comment, “See you on Facebook.” Until yesterday, it just seemed like a college student and professional tool. Now, it is becoming a family tool. I’ve seen how well it works watching my daughter using Facebook and Twitter from my iPhone. Now I see my son using those tools from his Blackberry! It really feels like a critical mass is emerging. Prior to this weekend, most of my “friends” on Facebook were distant Ed Tech buddies. Now, my immediate family is involved, which makes me want to log in more often.

I also noticed that social networking at NECC changed this year. I signed up for the Ning network, as I did last year, but the traffic this year was very low. This year, it was all Twitter! I wonder how soon there will be a link between Facebook and Twitter, so that the same update doesn't need to be posted to each account. As I learned at NECC, “All you need is an Embed code.”

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Thursday, February 05, 2009

 

MySpace Founders on Charlie Rose

I enjoyed the video clip of Charlie Rose's interview with the co-founders of MySpace, conducted on Tuesday night. They claimed that there are 125 million visitors a month to their website. Of particular interest to me at the end of the interview was their response to Charlie's question, "Realizing that you're not a philosopher, why is it so compelling for so many people?" Chris DeWolfe's response:
A lot of it is about the ability to express yourself. So if you look at your MySpace Profile, you have your music that you're listening to, you have the colors, you have the background, you have the videos. So, I look at your Profile, if you have one, and I can get to know you pretty quickly. It's almost as if you invited me over to a dinner party and you had certain music playing, and you had certain kinds of furniture, and you invited a certain group of friends, I would get to know you very quickly. So, I think it's an online representation of who you are, which is really fascinating, and it's a great way to stay in touch with people, and it's a great discovery mechanism. And there's no other place and no other way to really do that.

Tom Anderson (the other co-founder) added: I think a lot of it has to do with timing, too; that we came out right at the right time when digital cameras were on the rise, and people wanted to come in. People weren't exactly ready for something like MySpace a year or two earlier, so timing really helped us in being there to give people what they wanted.
The issue of personal expression is the major challenge with many of the ePortfolio systems that are in use in formal education today. It is fascinating to contemplate the role of social networks to build what I call "Your Digital Self" online (EIFeL calls ePortfolios "digital identity"). There are many capabilities missing from the current social networks that we need in institutional ePortfolios. Some of the most current ePortfolio systems (Elgg, Mahara, Epsilen) have blogs and built-in social networks, but most of the commercial and open source tools lack the capability for the level of personal expression found in MySpace or Facebook. As DeWolfe described the "discovery mechanism" which is learning, it is interesting to think about creating "Academic MySpaces" (that aren't blocked on most school networks!) that would engage students as much as the current crop of social networking sites. Engagement just won't be a factor until we can incorporate those elements of personal expression.

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