Saturday, April 17, 2010


ePortfolio on iPad & iWork

This morning, I read the following tweet:
Had a student bring an iPad with his digital portfolio to an interview. Keynote with pictures and video of him teaching. Cool! (@alvintrusty)
Since I bought Keynote for my iPad, I decided to give it a try. This is now the 37th version of my online presentation portfolio, but the first developed using my iPad. I found the 2007 version of my portfolio that I created in PowerPoint, and imported it into Keynote on my Mac (I found out later it was an unnecessary step... Keynote on the iPad will convert PowerPoint files). Then, I connected my iPad to my laptop and through iTunes, imported the file into my iPad. Once transferred to my iPad, I was able to activate through my Apple account and upload the keynote file to that website. Once there, I activated public sharing and received the link to share it publically (I was able to update the file the next day, but needed to make the link public again on the iWork website). I noticed that embedded hyperlinks worked on the iPad, but not on the website.

In the original Powerpoint, I used the Speakers Notes to record my reflections. When the file was imported into the iPad, the notes were stripped out. Interesting! It really didn't take me long to do this conversion with a few simple edits. The iWork website has a place to add notes, so there is a level of interactivity once it is uploaded. This was the first presentation that I edited on the iPad. It looks pretty easy to use. I would prefer a more interactive environment for a working portfolio, but this format is more appropriate for a presentation portfolio, and appears to be free when used with the Mac or iPad version of the iWork software.

I placed weblinks in the original Powerpoint, and they appeared in the iPad version. The links worked in presentation mode, but to get back into my presentation, I needed to open Keynote again... and I was not connected to a projector, so I don't know if the web pages would show through the projector. I did notice that the .mov videos that were stored on my .Mac account did not play in Safari on the iPad. Next time, I will see about embedding videos in my next Keynote presentation, to see how it works. I haven't yet figured out whether videos imported into the iPad through iTunes can be linked to play from within Keynote.

This ePortfolio can be viewed either online or on the iPad without Internet access. The real downside of this process is versioning: if I make changes on my iPad, I need to be careful if I transfer it back to my Mac, to make sure I am saving the most recent version... and I would need to upload the changed version to, which replaces the older version (but eliminates the public link, which needs to be reset on the iWork website). This illustrates the value of editing my GoogleDocs Presentation version: the latest version is always stored online. (However, right now I cannot edit GoogleDocs through the iPad's Safari browser.)

I am looking forward to future developments in the software for this platform. I have used Keynote to create a presentation portfolio and shared it using my iPad; there are blogging tools for maintaining a working/reflecting portfolio (WordPress and BlogPress on the iPad); and I can store files in many cloud storage sites, including GoogleDocs,, Apple's iDisk or These are all three main components of a learner-centered portfolio system: storage of artifacts, reflection/documenting learning over time, and a presentation/showcase medium. We just need a tool to tie them all together. I am anxious to see how this environment matures, and how easily it can be implemented by learners of different ages!

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Monday, April 12, 2010


Changes to GoogleDocs

Announced today: This video says it well. Also, the TechCrunch post today: Google Docs Gets More Realtime; Adds Google Drawings To The Mix. You know, I saw the Drawing icon when I signed in to Google Docs this morning. Now I see what it means. It just keeps getting better and better! Thanks, Google! My next collaborative ePortfolio planning workshops are going to be a lot more fun! And the output will be a lot more visual!
Official GoogleDocs Blog Post

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Saturday, April 10, 2010


ePortfolio Apps Needed?

Today, I received the following email message from a graduate student in the UK:
I am very interested in the mobile application development we have discussed and intend to make it the focus of my research.
I will be developing for the iPad, iPod, iPhone platform initially.

Just a thought, do you think the greatest need currently is for apps which connect to an ePortfolio such as: Wordpress, Blogger, Google Docs or similar, to enable uploading, editing and reflection of digital content? 
Or, is there also a need for a standalone mobile ePortfolio app?
Here is my response:

There are many purposes for ePortfolios, that require different types of tools (learning/reflection, showcase/employment, assessment/accountability). There are also many portfolio processes to be supported by different tools: creating/authoring digital content, collecting my work, reflecting on that work, selecting (hyperlinking or embedding) that work into my presentation portfolio, writing goals, presenting my work, getting feedback, etc.

With Web 2.0, an ePortfolio is really an aggregator of my work that is stored at many places online: video in video sharing sites like YouTube, Vimeo,, etc.; images in Flickr, Picasa; documents in GoogleDocs,, or lots of other locations; audio in Myna, etc. What we lack is an aggregator. We need a database to keep track of our online content, sort of like a database that we can use to organize our personal content, wherever it resides on the web. If you look at the report that was written by Ian Fox in NZ, a database of personal/academic content, that can be meta-tagged, is the missing link.

I imagine something that acts like my Macintosh in Garage Band or iMovie or Keynote, where I pull up Media, and it shows me my photos in iPhoto, my movies, my iTunes files, etc. I can select that piece of content and insert it into my document. We need a Web 2.0 equivalent, so that I can get to my content wherever it is stored online. What I need is not to insert the actual content, but to be presented with a choice of a hyperlink or an embed code that I can copy and paste into whatever presentation portfolio I am using. Right now, I have to do this task manually, link by link. For me, that is the need: a content management system for Cloud content, that is accessible on a website using any browser or mobile app. We can upload all kinds of data to the Web from our mobile devices... how do we organize all of this content?

Electronic Portfolio Components

Above is a diagram of eportfolio components as described in BECTA and JISC reports, and you will see where there is a need to organize the Digital Repository: online space to store resources and an archive of evidence.  I have also defined the Two Faces of ePortfolios, which are the workspace (reflection + archive/collection) and showcase (presentation+feedback). Most of the commercial tools organize the showcase... no one independently organizes the workspace right now (except what I do on my own in my blog or in a spreadsheet/matrix). And it needs to be easy enough for a 3rd grader to use! Maybe I'm thinking about a version of the MyLifeBits research that Microsoft conducted around "life store" of data.

So, we'd love some input: what type of apps are needed to support ePortfolio development using mobile devices with access to the Internet?

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Microsoft Resource on Digital Storytelling

When I was at the Hawaii International Conference on Education, I heard Bernard Robin present on Digital Storytelling, and he mentioned that Microsoft was releasing a Digital Storytelling resource guide for teachers, using the new Windows Lime MovieMaker (for Windows 7) and PhotoStory for Windows XP. Looks like some nice work and good resources.

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Sunday, January 17, 2010


My Wish List for Audio in Google Docs

Now that we can Upload Anything into Google Docs, I have a wish list for more upgrades. I want to be able to embed and play audio files that I store in my Google Docs account, not just download them. As indicated in my last blog entry, I was able to embed an uploaded MP3 on a Google Sites page, but it wasn't easy. I'm looking for a gadget to embed stored audio as easily as embedding a YouTube video. I want Google Docs to generate an embed code, not just a link to download an MP3. Or give me a menu item in Google Sites.

I realize there is the potential for copyright abuse with MP3s, but I want to be able to create audio narrations to go along with the other artifacts in a portfolio. Students learning to speak another language need an easy way to capture spoken evidence of their learning. Of course, the user interface is also an issue, since it is usually young children who can talk about their learning before they can write about it... or collect reading samples, now sometimes done with iPods... so it needs to be easy enough for elementary teachers and students to use.

Even better, a built-in tool like Myna would be terrific, that would allow someone to record a narration that would get embedded on a page! The first e-portfolio tool that I ever used (the Grady Profile originally written in Hypercard) had the built-in ability to record audio (specifically reading samples). That was 1991! I don't know of any web-based e-portfolio tool with the ability to capture audio directly (rather than uploading a pre-recorded audio file). Right now, we often use Audacity for recording to our computers, exporting the audio clip to MP3, uploading/embedding the clip into whatever e-portfolio system we are using... a lot of steps. As we move to cloud computing, we need more simple cloud-based tools that don't rely on desktop applications.

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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 (
...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
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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Monday, December 14, 2009


10 Reasons to use a Blog for your ePortfolio

Here is another blog entry from a faculty member at Boise State University, where I visited last week. It is refreshing to see faculty members model the use of blogs as a reflection space. Both Barbara and Lisa's blogs are developed in, taking advantage of the pages in addition to the blog entries. As they implement a reflective journal (aka, learning log) with their graduate students in the Educational Technology Program at Boise State, they will be providing a model of reflection that their students can emulate in their K-12 classrooms. Bravo!

Of course, all blogging tools are not created equal. I am creating this blog in Blogger, because that is the tool I started using in May 2004. Blogger allows Labels (key word tags) but not the categories available in WordPress. Blogger doesn't allow additional pages, like in WordPress. When I first started blogging, I posted duplicate entries to both a WordPress blog on my own server space (but gave it up after a few months as duplicative), and developed a portfolio using the pages and sub-pages available in (version 2.0+).  I keep a private personal blog in WordPress because I require a password to access the blog (or any individual entry in a public WordPress blog can require a password). So if WordPress has so many more features, why am I still writing this blog in Blogger? I think it is the user interface: Blogger is clean, simple, easy to use; I find the WordPress interface to be more cluttered, complex, but I can see its advantage for institutions that want to host the system on their own servers. For me, the major difference is that I can embed audio, video and slideshare files into my Blogger blog, but would require me to upgrade my account with VideoPress for an annual $60 fee (not applicable for sites hosting WordPress on their own server).

I just finished reading a dissertation written by an elementary teacher who implemented an electronic portfolio to support process writing with her fourth grade students using WordPress on a server in her school... in Greek! In the school where I worked in Turkey last month, that school is implementing e-portfolios with fourth and fifth grade students, making a transition from PowerPoint to WordPress on their own server... in Turkish! It helps to have a technology support staff! The value of this open source tool that can be installed on an institution's server, and modified to be implemented in the native language of the school, provides an easily modifiable environment to facilitate the reflection that is "the heart and soul" of a portfolio. My next project will be to test out the blogging capabilities built into the Mahara open source e-portfolio tool.

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Tuesday, December 08, 2009


Dragon Dictate for iPhone

I am writing this entry on my iPhone using Dragon Dictate, a new app available for free (for now). I am sitting in a motel room south of Reno, Nevada. Getting ready to drive back to the airport to go home after being snowbound for a day. Meeting canceled due to weather. I also left my power cord for my laptop at home. For the last day and a half, all I've had is my iPhone. Somehow it all worked. My inbox had over 100 messages sent and received in the last day. I even changed my return flight reservation on Alaska website.

I'm not sure this will replace my laptop, but I am impressed with how little I miss my laptop. And when I discovered that DragonDictate was available for the iPhone. I immediately downloaded it. I recorded 95% of this message using the software on my iPhone. Only needed to make minor changes and it has a keyboard for that purpose. I am still not comfortable dictating but I could really get used to this. Writers and researchers say there is a distinct difference between typed text, hand written text, and spoken text. It will be interesting to analyze my writing done in this format.

Sent from my iPhone

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Monday, August 17, 2009


Blog Portfolio Model

I am in Texas, working with a school district, where they are implementing ePortfolios using EduBlogs (WordPress). Here is a new model that I created to help explain the process. I was reading David Warlick's Classroom Blogging book on the plane ride from Seattle to Dallas, and the concept of blogging as a conversation really resonated with me, as the left side of this diagram reflects. This model works with any blogging tool that also allows pages, such as Movable Type. I added a full size version of the graphic on one of my web pages.

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Monday, June 01, 2009


New Google Tools

The Google I/O Conference last week provided a glimpse at some very exciting new tools, some available now, some in the near future.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009


Wordle of this blog

Just for fun, I've been taking some of my digital documents and putting them through The Wordle above is for this blog before today... sort of looks like a footprint. Hmmm... It is fun to see the themes that come through the most-used words in a document. Below is the Wordle for my latest article, Balancing the Two Faces of ePortfolios:
An interesting way to learn from a word cloud! Almost better than an abstract!

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Saturday, April 25, 2009


Personal Brain

This is the 36th tool that I have used to re-create my electronic presentation portfolio, as part of my Online Portfolio Adventure. The process moved very smoothly; I was able to convert all URLs to weblinks (copy the link, create a weblink and the URL in the Clipboard is automatically inserted). The tool allowed me to reconstruct my portfolio in less than two hours, once I figured out the interface, copying the information from my Google Sites portfolio where I had the URLs on the page (and the links). All of my other artifacts are web links. I prefer to have the links open a new window (and the portfolio remains open). When an artifact is opened, the reader can then close the window to go back to the portfolio. However, in this tool, the weblinks opened in the lower window. Clicking on the Back arrow went back to the source of the link. That makes it very nice for keeping the portfolio navigation on the screen.

This tool would work very well for a presentation portfolio but other tools will need to be used for summative assessment. To aggregate assessment data, a spreadsheet could be created to collect quantitative data. The real advantage of Personal Brain is the dynamic nature of the mind map to organize and present the portfolio. I was able to upload a few files as attachments. I was able to create this hyperlinked set of web pages, with no knowledge of HTML. Once the "plex" was built, I exported it to HTML view, which created a folder that I uploaded to my website. However, to make any changes to the site required me to export the entire site again. There is also no interactivity with readers. So, while this is a very interesting "mind mapping" approach to developing a presentation portfolio, it lacks the ability to insert graphics except as an attachment. The software must be downloaded to a desktop computer to construct the "plex" so I used the Pro 30-day Trial version, but I'm not sure the Free Edition allows exporting to HTML.

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Friday, January 16, 2009


Another new toy/tool

I just upgraded my old Flip video camera (and gave my first-generation Flip to my granddaughter for Christmas). I like this new version because it has a built-in rechargeable battery that charges through the USB port... no more messing with AA batteries!

While watching one of my favorite morning TV programs on MSNBC (Morning Joe), one of the founders of a brand new Internet news site, Global Post, was explaining how they were collecting stories from all over the world. Each of their reporters were given these Flip video cameras to capture their stories destined for their website. Immediately, the co-host of the program (Mika) said, "Oh, I love my Flip..." and pulled it out of her purse.

This version of the camera is a lot smaller than the original, so it fits
into my purse more easily. I am hoping that it will be more handy (smaller, better power system) so that I can do more video blogging (maybe!). I've been watching a friend and colleague do a lot of work with these cameras, including capturing reflections of participants during a workshop.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008


GoogleApps for Education

I just left a workshop in an elementary school in a small town in New Hampshire, where a few teachers were learning to use GoogleApps for Education. They established their own domain name for their school, and learned how to manage the site so that it restricts viewing by only those who have an account in their domain. They found that they were able to restrict the "gadgets" that were available for students to add to their Start pages. We recognize that there are growing numbers of universities adopting this tool; I hope that Google recognizes the special needs of K-12 schools who adopt this toolset, with students who are under age 18.

In this after-school workshop, we covered using GoogleDocs on the first afternoon, then we covered Google Sites on the second day. They taught me a lot about how to modify their sites. (I love working with creative teachers; I learn so much from them!) I introduced how to use the Announcements page type in Google Sites for students to create reflective journals (simple blogs). I've already modified my "how-to" page based on my work with them, and set up another site to demonstrate the various examples with all of the "how-to" instructions.

I am now convinced that in GoogleApps (Sites, Docs, etc.) I have found the best free Web 2.0 tool for maintaining an online personal learning environment that can be used for formative assessment in education. Here are the descriptions of the workshops that I am doing in New Hampshire this fall:
Using GoogleDocs to Create Interactive Student ePortfolios –- 1 day in Keene, NH on Thursday, November 20
This workshop will show participants how to use GoogleDocs, available for free on the Internet, to facilitate classroom-based assessment in electronic portfolios. A special emphasis of this workshop will be to focus on creating ePortfolios that meet the requirements of the New Hampshire Educational Technology Plan.

Using Google Apps Education Edition to Create/Manage Interactive Student ePortfolios –- 2 days in Manchester, NH on Tuesday-Wednesday, November 18-19
This workshop will show participants how to use GoogleApps, available for free on the Internet, to facilitate classroom-based assessment in electronic portfolios. These tools include GoogleDocs, Gmail, GoogleTalk, Google Calendar and Google Sites (Google’'s version of a wiki). A special emphasis of this workshop will be to focus on creating ePortfolios that meet the requirements of the New Hampshire Educational Technology Plan.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008


Google Sites

Google Sites (the former JotSpot wiki bought by Google in 2006) was released in February 2008 and is replacing Google Page Creator. I recently tried to log into Google Page Creator and got the following message:
We are no longer accepting new sign-ups for Page Creator because we have shifted our focus to developing Google Sites, which offers many of the capabilities of Page Creator along with new features like site-level navigation, site-level headers, control over who can see and edit your site, and rich embeddings like calendars, videos, and Google docs.
With that situation, I decided to work on a Google Sites version of my online portfolio. My detailed reflection on this tool is part of my Reflections on creating this 35th online version of my online portfolio. I am finishing up another "How-To" page on "Creating an Interactive Presentation Portfolio with Google Sites."

The bottom line: this tool has the potential to be one of the best free Web 2.0 tools to construct a presentation portfolio. I really like the way that it integrates (and can embed) all types of GoogleDocs and video stored in either YouTube or Google Video. With RSS feeds and a very simple interface, I think it will have a very low learning curve for the average user who is familiar with other Google Tools. It is much easier to use than Google Pages. Each site includes a Site Map and the author can decide which pages to include in the Navigation bar through the page settings.

I have a lot of questions about file attachments and the File Cabinet page type, but since the tool is still in Beta, I'm sure there is a lot more development ahead. This tool is a winner, especially when used within the GoogleApps Education Edition, where collaboration can be restricted to members within the same domain. I will be learning a lot more about this tool this fall as I help teachers in a few New Hampshire communities to implement GoogleApps Education Edition for student portfolios under the NH Educational Technology Plan.

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Monday, July 21, 2008


Navigating with my new iPhone

I just spent last week in Orlando with a rental car and my daughter riding along, navigating with Maps on my new iPhone. It was so cool! She searched for the nearest cash machine, found a restaurant across town, and an outlet mall for our retail therapy/bonding sessions, and found the nearest movie theater and show times so that we could see Mamma Mia (saw it on stage in Budapest and loved it just as much). I spent a lot of my free time exploring the iTunes Apps store.

I am writing this post on my iPhone at 30,000+ feet while traveling to Indianapolis for the NCTE Institute (more in a later entry). I just wish I could get used to typing with my thumbs. At least my fingernails are not getting in my way! I know it will take more practice.

I figured out how to update my Facebook status; I've also figured out how the different mail servers work (deleting a message in GMail and MobileMe puts it in the trash on those servers but does nothing on the Comcast server... I'm not sure which approach I prefer). Also, reading a message in GMail on my iPhone means it will not get downloaded to my laptop, but reading a Comcast mail message has no effect (I can still download them to my desktop). I know what one I prefer there. I'm still using my desktop computer to maintain a record of all of my email messages. I know I am going to need to change that habit!

Taking pictures with the camera and sending by email has been fun. I still need to figure out if I can attach then to a web page (like this blog or Picasa). Lots more to learn, but the implications for using this type of tool (more likely the iTouch) for documenting the learning process has a lot of potential. I am planning to work with at least one school in NH on these types of 1-to-1 and Web 2.0 tools in the next school year.

Created on my iPhone... but edited on my computer. Making corrections in a message after it has been saved in the outbox (but before it has been sent) is impossible (or not obvious) which makes editing this post a problem... But I sent it to myself instead of directly to my blog. That's my next thing to learn.


Sunday, July 13, 2008


From my new iPhone

I started this message with one of the applications on my brand new iPhone, but was not able to write in this area, so I am finishing this entry the normal way! I stopped at the AT&T store near my home on Saturday afternoon, and they had just received another shipment of iPhones, so I got a black 16 GB model! I used the maps right away to navigate to another store; I just wish it had voice commands like my old Palm/TomTom GPS unit. I also found some new software, including Travel Tracker, one of my favorites on the Palm, only it doesn't update my calendar with flights, etc. I got a very quick response from the company that Apple has not opened the Calendar database up to 3rd parties as of yet.

I managed to get my MobileMe set up and am synching with only a few problems. I left ten years of my calendar on my Palm Desktop, and I can't figure out how to publish my iCal, but otherwise, the transition from my Palm SmartPhone has been pretty seamless. I will spend the next two weeks on vacation exploring Orlando with my new GPS, and playing with the faster G3 connectivity. I will also explore some of the many different iPhone applications that are available through the iTunes store. One of my complaints: you have to buy a software package before you try it out (to see if it works the way you like). I just wasted some money on a game; with most Palm software there was usually a trial period before payment was required. I am slowly getting used to entering text with my fingers, but I am still much more facile with a regular keyboard. So far, I've been able to open GoogleDocs through my iPhone, but haven't figured out if I can edit these files. On my Mac, I can't use Safari to edit in many of the Google tools, so the iPhone version of Safari probably has the same limitations. It also does not support Flash or Java, the underlying technology of many Web 2.0 applications. Exploring and comparing will be very interesting!

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Friday, June 06, 2008


Sharepoint Example from WSU

I received a comment on a previous blog entry that I would like to highlight here, with a graduate student's portfolio created with WSU's SharePoint service.
I attend WSU and am a grad student. I use Sharepoint to host my ePortfolio and I think it covers all the needed functions. It is dynamic and very useful.
Here is a link to my ePortfolio if you'd like to see an example:

Also, I've created some instructional material for creating ePortfolios in MS Sharepoint. Feel free to check them out and share with anyone who could use them!

Hope to hear from you,
Matt Kushin
Thanks, Matt!

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Friday, May 09, 2008


Blogs and ePortfolios

After the recent ePortfolio conference in Montreal, where I met Stephen Downes, his blog entry discussed the following entries about using blogs in the ePortfolio process:
This ain’t yo mama’s e-portfolio, part 1
This ain’t yo mama’s e-portfolio, part 2
This ain’t yo mama’s e-portfolio, part 3

Alan Levine had discussed these issues in 2004, around the time I began this blog: Two Rivers Mix: RSS and e-Portfolios.

Penn State University switched over to the Movable Type blogging tool at the beginning of this year, and here are several weblinks that provide more information.
ePortfolios at Penn State

I have already blogged about the research on blogs at the University of Calgary. It is important to emphasize that blogging tools facilitate personal publishing and reflection, which make this type of tool an essential part of any comprehensive ePortfolio system.

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Using GoogleDocs in the Classroom

In the link above, Google has put together a very nice guide to help teachers use GoogleDocs in the classroom. This multipage GoogleDoc document includes the following sections:
Here is a video about Google Apps for Education that was recently added to YouTube by Google.


Thursday, May 08, 2008


Follow up on WSU ePortfolio work

The comment on my blog entry earlier this week, made by Nils Peterson at Washington State University, encouraged me to revisit some other entries that have come to my attention over the last six months:

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Wednesday, April 30, 2008


GoogleDocs updates

GoogleDocs, the quintessential Web 2.0 tool, is always being upgraded. The advantage of this type of software is that I didn't have to do anything (such as download software updates) to take advantage of the latest version. I discovered some new features today while organizing all of my logins and passwords in a GoogleDocs spreadsheet (which I am not publishing for obvious reasons). I discovered that when I put a URL into a cell in the spreadsheet, it automatically became a hyperlink. I went back and re-visited the spreadsheet that I had uploaded as part of my portfolio over a year ago (My Artifacts-at-a-Glance) and found that the links, which were not active when I first converted the document from Excel, are now all "clickable." They have also provided the capability to embed GoogleDocs presentations into web pages, so I have inserted below the GoogleDocs Presentation version of my portfolio, which was converted from PowerPoint and edited to add comments/reflections and hyperlinks to the artifacts listed in the spreadsheet mentioned above.

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Saturday, April 26, 2008


GoogleDocs updates

Lots of upgrades to GoogleDocs were announced yesterday! The tools are accessible offline using Google Gears, "an open source project that enables more powerful web applications, by adding new features to your web browser." Now all of my documents are also stored on my computer, so that I can work on them even when I am not connected to the Internet. Once connected, the files are synchronized. GoogleDocs is also available from mobile phones through a special interface. I just found a short video on YouTube that describes the offline access to GoogleDocs.


Thursday, February 07, 2008


iPhone Portfolio

I was in Birmingham, Alabama, last week, helping UAB define their vision for ePortfolios across their campus, and leading a workshop to help them identify their change strategies and potential tools. During a break, one of the participants showed me a collection of images on her iPhone, showcasing her husband's sculptures, a classic implementation of an art portfolio. I knew the time would come when people would start using mobile devices to publish their portfolios. I'm still not ready for my own iPhone (I'm waiting for upgrades I discussed in my July 15 blog entry). Maybe I should get an iPod Touch in the meantime! But I can't record audio (yet) or take pictures with it. I bought my last two iPods just before they released a new version. I think I'll wait.

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Thursday, December 27, 2007



Buzzword is an online word processor sponsored by Adobe. Although it has similarities to GoogleDocs and ZohoWriter, it has some significant differences. A real difference in this tool is the page layout formatting: every document has margins, can have a header and footer added, and visually shows page breaks. It does have the ability to add links, but I had to use the full URL for links to the other pages that I created. It does not have the ability to create "bookmarks" within documents, to be able to link to different parts of a single multi-page document (which I can do in GoogleDocs). If I wanted to print out a Buzzword document, it would be fully formatted. The tool has some other useful features: in addition to spell check, it shows the number of flagged words in the toolbar at the bottom of the screen. It also has an automatic word count at the bottom of the screen. There is also the ability to zoom in and out of the screen using a slider bar at the bottom.

I have discovered that when you share a document with another person, you have three choices:
* Co-author- full writing privileges
* Reviewer- can only add comments to the document
* Reader - can only read the document

To share a document, the program sends an email with a URL, which requires the individual to create a free account before viewing the document.

The purpose of this program is collaborative writing, not to create a portfolio. However, it does have the capabilities of full interactivity, either through co-authoring or being able to add comments. It really doesn't have a "public" view. It is currently a "work in progress" so I'm sure there will be a lot of progress over the next few months.

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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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Monday, November 12, 2007


Categorizing ePortfolio Systems

I just posted an updated version of My Online Portfolio Adventure, including Categories of ePortfolio tools and services. Links to the services can be found on that web page. I have not included the many services that are emerging in Europe, because I don't have enough experience with them to classify them. Input from other ePortfolio developers is welcome.
* Interactivity allows dialogue and feedback in the portfolio, either through comments or collaborative editing
** Data management system allows collection of evaluation data about portfolios,
and can produce reports aggregating quantitative data

As I look at this list, the level of individual personalization and creativity is roughly in the same order; the most creativity for the portfolio developer is in the first category, and the least is in the last, although there are exceptions (many of the Web 2.0 services allow a lot of creativity).

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007


A few more ePortfolio Tools

I've tried a few more tools for constructing ePortfolios:

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Monday, October 22, 2007


Using Tags to Create an E-Portfolio

(Now I am in Budapest, and Blogger screens are in Hungarian! Good thing I've used this website for over three years, and can remember where the commands are on the screen!)

After hearing that the MyStuff e-portfolio, being created by the Open University in the U.K. was using tags instead of folders to organize the work in their system, I decided to try the quintessential tagging program, (now owned by Yahoo), to create a version of my portfolio. Since all of my artifacts are stored online in one of my server spaces, it became relatively easy to create a set of tags to describe the work in my portfolio. I also started to create a list of other resources, as well, including commercial e-portfolio tools and open source e-portfolio tools.

Interestingly, each tag can have a 1,000 characters of explanation, which was more than enough for each section in my portfolio. Where I ran out of space was in the captions for each link, limited to 256 characters. Not enough for a full reflection, but enough for a brief caption for each artifact. It has occurred to me that a fuller reflection could be posted as a blog entry, with the link to that specific entry tagged in, would overcome these limitations.

The next challenge is where to store artifacts online. I am starting to look at online storage services, although I'm not sure any of them let you create a hyperlink to the individual items stored in their space. That is a subject for future research.

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Friday, October 19, 2007


Open Source ePortfolio Systems

At the ePortfolio Conference in Maastricht, The Netherlands, one of the keynote speakers was from the Open University in the U.K. They have been developing an open source ePortfolio system for several years, and it should be fully deployed in February 2008. They call their system MyStuff and it is fully integrated with Moodle. This system does not use folders to store files, but uses tags instead, which offers a very different, more flexible and intriguing way to access artifacts in a portfolio.

The list of open source ePortfolio systems to date includes:I heard from some New Zealanders at the conference that the Mahara team has received more funding to adapt the system to schools, and the adaptations should be completed by the end of this year. In a few weeks, I hope to do an evaluation of the capabilities of some of these tools. I have already developed a portfolio in Elgg. I will also see about getting access to MyStuff. I tried Klahowya a few years ago and couldn't make it work on my server space. I will be working with the University of Oregon's Center for Advanced Technology in Education to evaluate Mahara and Elgg for their Special Education ePortfolio project. I am working with SPDC and schools in New Hampshire to implement the Moofolio to demonstrate technology fluency. Since I just learned about MyStuff, I am anxious to try it out, as well.

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007


New online video

Today I was a guest "speaker" in an online conference on Adult Learning for an organization in the U.K. for which I created a new online video (27 minutes) discussing the "What, Why and How" of ePortfolios in Adult Learning. In the follow-up discussion, one of the participants asked about how a user can control who sees their stuff (in light of some current issues around cyberbullying). My response:
You raise a valid concern. When you publish a web site in Google Pages, I'm not sure if you can require a password. That is one of the questions that I will have to ask them. That is, of course, the appeal of some of the other customized e-portfolio systems... Using GoogleDocs, you don't have to publish your Document or Presentation for the whole world to see. You can just send it to another online user as a link. It just depends on your purpose, whether you want a portfolio that is open to the public, or whether you want to share it with specific people.
That makes the GoogleDocs (both Document and Presentation) better tools for collaboration and interaction (not available in Google Pages) and the fact that you don't have to publish to the Internet, but can simply share with specific online users. You can also carry on a live text chat with the Presentation tool, and post comments in a Document. But they are both very linear! I was also asked about mind mapping tools that could be used to create a concept map of learning. I have seen one portfolio done with Inspiration, and I love that tool for conceptualizing my own personal learning and growth, but I do not use that concept map as part of my portfolio. Maybe I should look into those online concept mapping tools, since they might address a learning style issue of many learners.

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New tutorials using GoogleDocs and Pages

While sitting around a hospital yesterday using their free wifi for guests (and also caring for a relative), I created two new "how to" documents, using the actual tool itself:I learned even more about the tools as I was creating these mini-tutorials, which both originated as PowerPoint presentations. Converting the first document to GoogleDocs was very fast and easy, only requiring a minor amount of tweaking. However, I also deleted my first version and uploaded the PowerPoint file again because I couldn't make the changes I wanted in the online version. The second one, created in Google Page Creator, required that I save each graphic as a separate file and then upload that file into the file repository in Google Pages. Once there, I could re-use some of the images. I could also very easily hyperlink to some of the pages in my portfolio as an example. After using both of these tools, I like the "quick and easy" nature of the GoogleDocs presentation tool, doing most of my authoring in PowerPoint. I also like the Share feature, and being able to "present" a portfolio in real time online, where there is a chat window for comments. Google Pages is for more of a formal presentation, without the interactivity capability. Both tools allow as much creativity as I wanted, without needing to use any HTML coding.

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Monday, October 01, 2007


Updating Mash Up discussion

I realized that I uploaded the Google Mash Up page too quickly. I fleshed out the details a little more this morning, but have a lot more to add. I will update this blog when I think the page, and its attachments, are more complete.

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Friday, September 28, 2007


ePortfolio Mash-up with Google Apps

Here is a conceptual model that I am exploring, using the variety of Google tools to facilitate an online learning portfolio. Here is a full size version of the image, plus a further discussion that I am building about this conceptual model.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Google Presentation Tool

This is the 31st tool that I have used to recreate my online portfolio. It was also the quickest! It took me about two minutes to convert a 6.3 MB PowerPoint file into my online portfolio using the brand new Google Presentation tool. I understand it was just released yesterday. I changed a couple of slides and published it, all in about 15 minutes! I am very impressed!!! (I tried the same thing a few months ago with Zoho, and it never worked)

Anyone can use this software to create an online portfolio if they have a good Internet connection. Even the hyperlinks that I had on the slides were converted. The interactivity can be facilitated through the "Share" feature, just like GoogleDocs Document, although it lacks the Insert function available in that tool. I am wondering if they intend to add comments in later versions. I see that other people can be sent the URL for the presentation, and they can view the presentation in real time. Wow!

I can see that I need to do a whole new set of instructions on using the Google Apps (Docs, Presentation, Pages) to create electronic portfolios. Here is a short YouTube video about GoogleDocs that discusses the process. I'm going to showcase this toolset next week in an online presentation that I am doing next week for the NIACE online conference in the U.K., focusing on electronic portfolios in adult learnng.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Google Pages

This is the 30th tool that I have used to create my electronic portfolio. The process moved very smoothly. I was able to convert all URLs to weblinks. The tool allowed me to reconstruct my portfolio in less than an hour, copying the information from my Elgg portfolio, where I had the URLs on the page (and the links). I easily uploaded my graphics. All of my other artifacts are web links. The program's Site Manager shows all of the files that I have uploaded. There is a limit of 100 MB per account for all pages and files. There is also no data management tool, to aggregate assessment data. I'm not sure there is an interactivity feature to this program, such as found in a blog or wiki. Therefore, this tool would work for a presentation portfolio but not for formative or summative assessment.

The real advantage of Google Pages is the many different tools, gadgets and widgets available, as well as the file management system. I was able to upload files as attachments. I created a Table of Contents on the left side of the page, with links to each section on the site, and then copied to each page. I was able to create each page as I created the first link. I am very impressed with this tool. I was able to create this hyperlinked set of web pages, with no knowledge of HTML. I had one small problem with editing the graphic at the bottom of one page. So, I closed the browser window, and opened it again. It automatically saves the pages every few minutes. This program would work well for a presentation portfolio, but GoogleDocs would work better if the goal is a learning portfolio, with interactivity and feedback. I could see GoogleDocs used to create artifacts, with collaboration and feedback, and Google Pages used for the formal presentation portfolio.

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Monday, August 27, 2007


Elgg (Eduspaces)

I've been watching the Elgg tool for several years, but was waiting until the presentation builder was finished. This is the 29th tool that I have used to re-create my electronic portfolio. The process moved pretty smoothly. I was able to convert all URLs to weblinks. The tool allowed me to reconstruct my portfolio in less than an hour, copying the information from my ZohoWriter portfolio, where I had the URLs on the page (and the links). I easily uploaded a few graphics. All of my other artifacts are web links.

Since I prefer to have the links open a new window (and the portfolio remains open), I was able to specific each link to open in a new window. When an artifact is opened, the reader can close the window and easily return to the portfolio, rather than using the Back button. There is also no data management tool, to aggregate assessment data. Therefore, this tool would work for formative assessment (providing teacher and peer feedback on student work) but not for summative assessment.

The real advantage of Elgg is the social networking and blogging built into the system, as well as the file management system. I could not figure out how to create links to another Elgg presentation page, so I put the entire portfolio into a single presentation page. The program created a Table of Contents at the top of the page, with links to each section on the page. Very nice! It is very nice to have a presentation builder now as part of Elgg. Even if it is a very simple tool, it allows text, blog posts and files to be included on a presentation page. I would really like pages and sub pages, such as in WordPress, but at least it now has another way to present portfolio data, instead of just the reverse chronological order of the blog.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007


Quoted in eSchool News

Today, this blog was quoted in eSchool News, with specific reference to my blog entry on the iPhone in Education.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007


CD Burning Question

I received the following question in an email last week:
I have recently started to implement the use of electronic portfolios using Microsoft Word with hyperlinks to digital media. Much of the work linked has been converted to PDF files and all works well until we try to burn collections to CD. Once a collection is on a CD and we click on a hyperlinked file, we get the "Cannot open specified file" message and the link is still referencing the original storage drive. Can you tell me how to avoid this?
Here is my response: Now you know why I no longer use Microsoft Word for ePortfolios. You might try GoogleDocs (the equivalent Web 2.0 tool). If you converted everything to PDF (including the portfolio) and hyperlinked the documents together (or put everything into a single PDF file with hyperlinks), you would solve that problem when you publish to CD. My instructions for creating PDF-based portfolios are online: (but that was published in 2001).

But even that process is ePortfolio 1.0. You really need to look at some new tools, but using the same strategies. I really like wikis and blogs or many interactive Web 2.0 tools. I have a web page that outlines the different options:

CDs are going away. Even DVDs are limited in the future. They aren't interactive environments. Read my description of ePortfolio 1.0 and ePortfolio 2.0:
Everything is moving to the WWW. Here is my latest proposal for a paper at next year's AERA (created/published in GoogleDocs):

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Monday, August 13, 2007


iPod Microphones

At the workshop last week, the participants used the xTreme Mac MicroMemo iPod microphone. I have the Belkin TuneTalk Stereo and also the Griffin iTalk Pro. Today I found a "shootout" of these three from the O'Reilly Digital Media blog. I have ordered the MicroMemo version for my brand new iPod Nano, since they make one specifically for the Nano. I will do my own experiment when it gets here, to see which one I like best. The Belkin has a switch to set the gain, and it can be plugged into USB power. I find that I can only record a little over an hour with the Belkin before I have to charge my video iPod (30 GB). Last week, I used the Belkin on my Nano, and recorded two hours on a fully-charged Nano battery (it records to flash memory, not a hard drive, so there are no hard drive noises or delays). I noticed in the workshop that for many of the participants, the audio of their narration was very quiet. I will explore techniques for placing the MicroMemo for optimal recording quality.

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Sunday, July 15, 2007


iPhone verdict -- not yet (for me)

I tried out an iPhone at the local Apple store, and decided not to buy this version, at least not just yet. It took me forever to type a URL into Safari (mostly because of my long fingernails!), but it would also raise my phone bill $20 a month. I'm not convinced that it would be as functional for me as my current Treo 680, where I can make the small keys work fairly well with my fingernails. If the iPhone would connect with a bluetooth keyboard, then I might find it more useful for email on the road.

I really want BT DUN (BlueTooth Dial Up Networking). My old Sony Ericsson T616 BlueTooth phone acted as a modem for my Mac laptop (at 9600 baud it was painfully slow, but I was able to download my email to my desktop computer, not to my phone). I've tried unsuccessfully for the last hour or so to make my Palm Treo 680 to do BT DUN (the website shows that I can, I downloaded the drivers but they don't seem to be working), but I can still download email to my phone and do minimal web surfing, if I need to (not often). So far the BT DUN option is not available on the iPhone at this time. So, it's not worth it to me to replace my 8-month-old Treo with a $500 device that will cost me more each month. I think it needs a few more features before it will do what I want to do. I am also waiting for the AT&T speed to improve. I bought one of the first Macs in January 1984, and it cost me a lot to keep upgrading it before I finally replaced it with a Mac SE (remember the 80s?). That experience taught me to wait for a later version of any new technology. They work out the bugs, expand the features, and maybe even lower the price.

As an Apple Distinguished Educator, I know I'll get a chance to play with one at our Institute in a little over a week. Maybe after that time, I'll change my mind, but right now, I think I'll wait for the next version.


Wednesday, June 06, 2007


My eCoach

This is the 27th tool that I have used to recreate my electronic portfolio. I was asked to try out the tool by the founder of the company. Since I copied the pages from an earlier online version, I was able to reconstruct my portfolio in less than an two hours, copying and pasting the information, although the fine tuning the formatting took more time. As with all of my other portfolios, all of my artifacts are documents already stored on one of my websites. It did not automatically convert URLs embedded into the text into hyperlinks; I had to convert each artifact link individually, although I was told that it should have converted them.

My eCoach offers collaboration, communication, curriculum, and coaching tools for a one-time fee of $35 to set up the account. A team leader can set up teams for $200. This version of my portfolio was created using the Universal [Web Page] Builder. I set the setting so that every page in this portfolio will allow comments, which provides the opportunity for interactivity/feedback.

My general impression is that this tool is relatively easy to use, although it took me a few tries to select the right template. It created an attractive layout, although limited to 800 pixels wide, to accommodate older computers and projectors. This caused a problem with one of the images that I uploaded, which they fixed. The system allows 100 MB of online storage, so I uploaded a video version of my last portfolio.

This is a flexible tool that allows for cloning pages, for others to leave comments, and coaching support from an eCoach. Users can create multiple tabs as categories with multiple pages under each category. Each page has a text editor that allows users to add text, images, videos, audio files, podcasts, documents, presentations, and most types of files.

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Sunday, June 03, 2007


PowerPoint & LecShare Pro

PowerPoint is the 26th tool that I have used to create my electronic portfolio. I authored the portfolio in PowerPoint and then created different versions linked from a more comprehensive web page. In addition to using LecShare Pro, I also used the "Save as Web Page..." command in PowerPoint. The Lecshare HTML version (with audio and notes) did not create hyperlinks that I had created in the PowerPoint file; the PowerPoint-created HTML version includes the hyperlinks. The more detailed reflection on the web page is also part of the audio narration at the end of the video versions.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007


LecShare Pro

I bought the LecShare Pro software, and converted my keynote address from the ePortfolio Hong Kong conference into several different formats. The results are posted on a single web page. I was told by the developers of the LecShare software that "the slowness of importing is actually due to the way MS Office works on the Mac. When the new version of Office comes out we hope that Microsoft's API is much more responsive."

I am very impressed with the output of this LecShare Pro software. The quality of the video is very good, and the process is much easier than using the other strategies that I have tried.


Thursday, May 24, 2007


Slide-to-Video Software so far

Here is the Macintosh software that I have tried so far, and the issue with each one:


Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Convert narrated slide shows

I am starting to use my iPod and Belkin microphone to record my presentations at conferences & workshops. I am experimenting with strategies to turn these presentations (primarily in PowerPoint) into video so that I can post them on my website. I started using GarageBand last fall, converting each slide into JPEGs and importing them into the Podcast track in GarageBand. I wasn't happy with the final quality of the video, although the result looked fine on an iPod: here is my half-hour keynote at the ePortfolio conference in Oxford, England last fall:

Earlier this month, I presented a closing keynote address to a conference in Finland while I was on a cruise (I sent them a DVD with the keynote presentation, and called them from the cruise ship for Q&A after the presentation was over). Since the keynote contained many examples of digital stories, I recorded the audio with SoundStudio and used iMovie to put together the video, inserting full DV versions of each story in between my slides (converted to JPEG) with audio narration inserted. I was pleased with the quality of the videos, although I thought the slides were grainy.

I am looking for better ways to automate this process. When I search the Internet for software to convert PowerPoint to video, I find mostly Windows software. I know we have ADE licenses for Impatica for PowerPoint, although it converts PowerPoint into web pages - I do not see a video option.

I also downloaded a new product called LecShare Pro (with a Mac version!) which converts PowerPoint slide shows into these different formats: QuickTime, MPEG-4, Accessible HTML, Microsoft Word, audio only. Last night, I took the audio from the 45 minute keynote from a session that I did in Hong Kong in March, synchronized the audio clip with the slides and converted the whole thing into several formats. Since I have not registered the software ($69), there is a watermark on all of the slides, but it shows what is possible. The audio is also not compressed in the trial version, so the file is really too large to post on the Internet. But the process of synchronizing the audio to the slides was fairly straightforward, once I got started. The software worked directly with PowerPoint, but was pretty slow opening and saving files.

The software also allows recording audio directly, slide by slide, into a file. This option might work very nicely with ePortfolios created in PowerPoint. Students could do audio reflections on their portfolios with this tool, then convert them for either WWW, DVD or CD publishing.

I am looking for more Macintosh software that will help me take my audio clips and my slides, and put them together into different output formats.


Friday, March 16, 2007


Workshop in Japan

I have been in Japan since Wednesday, for a symposium on Portfolios in Medical Education at Mie University in Tsu, near Nagoya. I was a second presenter after another expert from a medical school in the U.K., where they have been using portfolios for high stakes, summative assessment. I provided quite a contrast with my focus on student-centered, formative portfolios. This was my second bilingual hands-on workshop: the first in Finland in 1998 and now Japan in 2007. This was quite a contrast. In Finland, I was teaching how to create an electronic portfolio with Adobe Acrobat. Today, we created an electronic portfolio with GoogleDocs. This time, I knew the tool well enough to be able to point to the part of the screen where the different commands existed in the English version, and it all worked, although I had a great workshop assistant who was typing and using the software in Japanese.

The participants were very actively engaged in both yesterday afternoon's workshop, which was mostly lecture, and today's full day workshop, which was very hands-on and participatory. We had simultaneous translation, which I had only experienced a year ago in Italy, where it was all a lecture format. At least today, that was a lot of experiential learning going on. I learned one thing: only use the Firefox browser when using GoogleDocs. Internet Explorer for Windows did not work well.

I am most impressed by how well I was taken care of while I was here. I was met at the airport and escorted to my hotel, where I had my first dinner. Every day, I was escorted to their offices or to where I needed to be for the workshops. Tomorrow, I will be escorted on the train back to the airport for my flight to Hong Kong. The taxicabs were immaculate, with white covers on the seats. My hotel had free wifi and free breakfast. Our lunches were catered in beautiful boxes. I had no idea about everything I was eating, but it was all very good. As my first trip to Japan, it was very impressive!

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Friday, March 09, 2007


Identity Production and Online Portfolios

I recently read a paper online entitled, "Identity Production in a Networked Culture: Why Youth Heart MySpace." In this article, based on a speech made at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, February 19, 2006, the author addresses three issues related to MySpace: identity production, hanging out and digital publics.
The dynamics of identity production play out visibly on MySpace. Profiles are digital bodies, public displays of identity where people can explore impression management [2]. Because the digital world requires people to write themselves into being [3], profiles provide an opportunity to craft the intended expression through language, imagery and media....

What we're seeing right now is a cultural shift due to the introduction of a new medium and the emergence of greater restrictions on youth mobility and access. The long-term implications of this are unclear. Regardless of what will come, youth are doing what they've always done - repurposing new mediums in order to learn about social culture.

Technology will have an effect because the underlying architecture and the opportunities afforded are fundamentally different. But youth will continue to work out identity issues, hang out and create spaces that are their own, regardless of what technologies are available.
A colleague of mine completed a dissertation a year ago, where she studied the implementation of electronic portfolios created using very different tools in two different Teacher Education programs. In one university, the students were taught to use a free web page editing tool (Composer) and were encouraged to individualize their portfolios. That university had developed a separate assessment management system to collect and manage the accountability data, which was not very obvious to the students. In the second university, the students were forced to purchase an account for 4-to-6 years in one of the commercial systems, and were provided with highly prescriptive assignments in a system "specifically designed to impose uniformity on the portfolio task." My colleague is presenting a case study at the SITE conference about the frustrations of a student in that second university, who was an experienced MySpace user, and used that experience to customize her portfolio, despite the constraints of the system.

In one of my more recent blog entries, I shared an email from an educator who indicated that she was looking for a portfolio system that would allow students to individualize their portfolios (among other criteria). She also wanted it to be interactive, to support multimedia, to be secure, to allow assessment, and to be portable (i.e. students can take it with them when they leave). When a tool is developed, the tool developers have to prioritize their development efforts, to provide the most important tools that their clients say they need. That's why most of the ePortfolio tool developers have created very good assessment management systems, that collect data that institutions need for accountability and summative assessment. But in the order of priority, the needs of the learner, for an environment where they can express their own individuality through their portfolios, is often left on the "wish list" for future development (or not even considered).

In my opinion, this situation is the result of programmers and technology experts developing what they think is an efficient system for collecting this data, not a tool that facilitates individuality and creativity. Perhaps the technicians don't recognize the psychological need for adolescents (and post-adolescents) to establish a unique identity, both face-to-face and online. In my current research, I am finding that MySpace is so popular because it encourages and enables individuality and creativity in addition to the social networking that also drives that system.

In my review of the many tools out there, I found that there were many tradeoffs between usability and creativity, qualities that I think are very important to maintain student engagement. To their credit, the better commercial ePortfolio providers are addressing these usability issues as they continuously modify their software. But it is a challenge to balance competing priorities with limited resources.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007


GoogleDocs for Online Portfolio Development

This is the 25th tool that I have used to create my online portfolio as part of my "Online Portfolio Adventure" research over the last three years. Since I copied the pages from another version of my portfolio, the tool allowed me to reconstruct my portfolio in less than an hour, copying and pasting the information, although fine tuning the formatting took more time. As with all of my other portfolios, all of my artifacts are documents already stored on one of my websites, so I did not have to upload any documents. I think this program is a viable tool for maintaining portfolios that are comprised mostly of word processing documents that are converted into GoogleDocs. I don't know how it handles other documents as attachments, such as PowerPoint. It is very easy to create links from a GoogleDocs page to any web page or any other GoogleDocs page. I used to teach how to create a hyperlinked portfolio with Microsoft Word. This is the online (Web 2.0) equivalent!

This system has the potential to offer interactivity, since each page can have comments added by those selected to Collaborate. I was able to add links by simply copying from another website with the links embedded and I could designate that each link would open a new browser window which is what I prefer: the portfolio remains open so that when an artifact is opened, the reader can close the window and easily return to the portfolio, rather than using the Back button.There is no data management tool, to aggregate assessment data, although Google Spreadsheet could be used. Therefore, this tool would work for formative assessment (providing teacher and/or peer feedback on student work) but not for summative assessment. But the process for adding comments and feedback would need to be agreed upon with the approved collaborators within the system.

The major advantage of GoogleDocs is that it is a Web 2.0 tool, and universally available through a WWW browser. I found it fairly easy to use, although it helped that I knew how to edit HTML to fine tune the formatting. I tried to use the Google Spreadsheet to create the Portfolio-at-a-Glance matrix, since it was originally created in Excel. However, I could not easily create hyperlinks in the cells, and the links did not translate when I converted the Excel spreadsheet into Google. So, I converted the spreadsheet to HTML and pasted it into Edit HTML on a new page. A table is easy to edit in a GoogleDocs page. I also found it extremely easy to insert images on a page. I published another "How-To" page on using GoogleDocs to create an online portfolio.

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Thursday, February 15, 2007


Online ePortfolio Strategies

I received an email recently from a teacher who participated in the online class that I just finished teaching. She asked:
I am now very excited about the direction I hope to take the e-portfolio at our school. One of the things I have decided to do is to use this opportunity to mentor rather than teach my students. I am hoping that I will be able to work alongside them as we all create our own portfolios (me too). I have significant technological challenges and if you have time would appreciate your input. I am not as technologically savvy as perhaps I should be given that I teach online.

I have lots of cool ideas but my biggest stumbling block is technology. I want a space for students to create their portfolios that is:

1. interactive
2. will be able to support multimedia
3. allow students to individualize their portfolios
4. is secure
5. allows assessment
6. is portable (i.e. students can take it with them when they leave)

I figured that a student webpage (assuming they could make one) would cover 1, 2, 3 and 6, but not 4 or 5.

Moodle covers 1, 4, and 5 but not 2 (very well), 3 and 6

A CDROM covers 2, 3, 4, & 6 but not 1, & 5.

I know I'm asking for the world, but please help.

I know the parents at the school would balk at the idea of student pages accessible to anyone & to be honest I don't want my personal information out there either. This may not be where the Internet is right now, but I'm not comfortable sharing with the world! However I think that as a group of Grade 11 and 12 students and a mentor (me), we could really achieve something meaningful. Now that The Graduation Portfolio is no longer mandatory in BC, I want to make this an optional course for students interested in creating their own e-portfolios as a start to a lifelong journey.
I responded: I decided to take your document and put together a GoogleDoc page to look at different strategies. I added five more options to look at. After you review the table, you can get back to me. I think there are other options that you could consider.

I don't understand what you mean by assessment. Do you want to score student portfolio work, based on a rubric? Or do you want to provide students feedback on their work (which I think your first section, Interactive, covers).

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Monday, February 05, 2007



I added a few "how-to's" on a couple of my online portfolios, which are Web 2.0 tools, but not necessarily portfolio tools: (my favorite wiki) and (my favorite blogging tool) for ePortfolio development. These pages briefly cover the process:
These pages provide some suggestions for a sequence of activities using that specific tool to construct an interactive ePortfolio.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007


KEEP Toolkit

I created the 24th version of my portfolio using the KEEP Toolkit created by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. I copied the pages from another HTML version of my portfolio. The tool allowed me to reconstruct my portfolio in less than two hours, copying and pasting the information.

Once I figured out how the Dashboard worked, and how I could develop my portfolio with blank templates, it was relatively straightforward. I was able to do basic text editing with the Rich Text Editor. I added all links using the software's edit links tool.

I was also able to create several versions of my portfolio and individual pages, and stitch them together for another view. There is a lot of flexibility with the authoring tools. There is also no data management tool, to aggregate assessment data. Therefore, this tool would work for formative assessment (providing teacher and peer feedback on student work) but not for summative assessment.

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Epsilen ePortfolio tool

I created the 23rd version of my ePortfolio using the Epsilen ePortfolio tool, created at IUPUI CyberLab. The tools is free for anyone with an EDU email address. Since I copied the pages from another HTML version of my portfolio, all URLs came over as weblinks. The tool allowed me to reconstruct my portfolio in about than an hour, copying and pasting the information.

The software includes a blog and has elements of social networking built in. The ability to control who views each page can be controlled through customized access keys. Documents can be saved in files and folders, but the storage is limited to 75 MB. There is also no data management tool, to aggregate assessment data. Therefore, this tool would work for formative assessment (providing teacher and peer feedback on student work through the blog, QuickNotes, and an internal email system).

The user interface needs a little work. I had to figure out that to add additional pages to my portfolio (not the ones in their template) I had to select the Options Menu. The portfolio itself has a few other selections on the page that I did not put there (Access key, Login). However, it automatically generated the navigation bar on the left side of the window. Once I figured out how the basic software worked, it went pretty smoothly. If I wanted, I could change colors, but did not find any other design templates available.

One option that could be added is a Personal CMS toolset that features a complete Course Management System (CMS), offering tools such as Lessons, Chat, Drop Boxes, Grade Book, Course Mail, and Forums for discussion.

On the whole, the system let me work around its template structure, and create my own portfolio. It also offers a lot of additional features that I did not try.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006


EduTools ePortfolio Review

The WCET EduTools study of seven ePortfolio tools has been completed and is online:
In the Spring of 2006, EduTools and ePAC International undertook the review of seven ePortfolio products on the behalf of seven partner institutions or systems of institutions. In consultation with ePAC and the project partners, a set of 69 electronic portfolio features were identified and defined by Bruce Landon. Based on those features, reviews were conducted and completed in April 2006. According to the agreement with the partners, the feature set and reviews are now available for public use.

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