Sunday, February 14, 2010


Exciting week in Brooklyn

I was in Brooklyn all week, conducting workshops for the New York City Schools, Office of Education Technology for South Brooklyn, Staten Island. I knew they were interested in electronic portfolios, because I had email communication since last spring. We held our first training this week, showing teachers how to create their own portfolios with Google Docs and Google Sites. The first two-day workshop was held Monday and Tuesday, and was overflowing (we moved to a larger room the second day). The second workshop was supposed to begin on Wednesday, but was postponed for a day because of the snowstorm that hit the New York area. I heard about 50 MPH winds hitting the Empire State Building, knocking out satellite dishes for cable TV, but it was just snow in Brooklyn. I had a day off, and postponed my flight to return later on Friday.

I am impressed with the interest in e-portfolios in this program. It is also refreshing to see the emphasis on teaching portfolios as well as student portfolios… that to really appreciate the process, teachers need to construct their own portfolios before trying to implement them with students. I am also impressed with their commitment to learning portfolios for students, not for accountability. I am interested in being able to demonstrate the value of formative, self-assessment portfolios before they might get co-opted for summative assessment.

I just found out that New York City Schools is adopting a combination of ePals (for student mail and collaboration) with GoogleApps (minus GMail) next year. That makes the training that I did this week very relevant for them. They are also looking for schools in other parts of the world to collaborate. As more educational institutions adopt Google Apps, they have a ready tool for building interactive portfolios.

I'll be back in March (on my way back from India), and will be working under a different grant, where I will focus on e-portfolios as professional development environments for teachers (online personal learning environments).

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Thursday, December 10, 2009


Fun day at Boise State

I just spent a fun day at Boise State University, working primarily with faculty members in the Educational Technology program, to help them streamline their graduate student summative ePortfolio process. We used my "Balancing the Two Faces of ePortfolios" presentation and diagram as the framework for our discussions. It was really fun to talk with faculty members who knew the technology, and we were able to brainstorm strategies for building a reflective learning journal over time, to help students capture their learning (probably in a blog) throughout the program. Then, they would be more prepared to develop a final assessment portfolio at the end of the program, tied to the program standards. Overall, I was pleased with the discussion and I enjoyed seeing how a group of faculty worked together to improve their program.

At the beginning of the day, I asked how many of them had their own e-portfolios. There was a few tentative hands that went up... but at the end of my presentation, many of them who kept a blog (most using were able to say that their blogs and the associated pages really represented who they were professionally. Lisa Dawley, the program chair, raised an interesting idea: to incorporate students' blog-folios into the LinkedIn professional network site, to begin building their professional network before they graduated... an interesting approach, especially as a showcase portfolio for employment and self-marketing. The LinkedIn site appears to work well with a blog. I am talking with schools that are using the Ning social networking site for similar purposes, all part of embedding academic work into a larger context. More to explore!

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Teaching a course with open tools

This week, I am beginning to team-teach a graduate course for Seattle Pacific University entitled, "Issues and Advances in Educational Technology" using a Google Site for the course content and a private Google Group for the class discussions.  David Wicks (my co-developer) and I thought it would be important for students to not only study these advances at a theoretical level, but also to experience these emerging technologies on a practical level. We also thought we should use tools that are free for teachers to implement in their classrooms. We are also using web-based readings rather than a textbook for the course content.

We recognize that there is a steeper learning curve with this approach, especially with most other SPU courses being implemented within Blackboard... but few schools use Blackboard. We are simply replacing desktop computer-based tools (bookmarks, word processing, web page authoring) with Internet-based tools (, GoogleDocs, Google Sites). We are encouraging our graduate students to think about the application of these tools to their own situations in their classrooms.

We also wanted to model the collaboration that is possible using Google Sites: we kept most of our comments on the pages where we discussed the content and development process of the course as it was being constructed. We also set up a Notes on Development page, using the Announcements page type in Google Sites, as a journal or page (with entries organized in reverse-chronological order) where we documented our development process... much like a blog without RSS feeds.

Speaking of RSS feeds... when you are a member of a Google Site, you can go to More Actions and Subscribe to Page Changes (for the page you are on) or Subscribe to Site Changes (for the entire site). Any time a change is made to the page or site, you will receive an email showing the changes. For collaborative projects, this feature is essential! But it can add significantly to your email volume. So, we provided advice to our students on how to manage email from this class. We will be asking the students for feedback on the process and using these open tools, and I will blog about the process periodically over the semester.

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Saturday, September 26, 2009


Group Brainstorming with GoogleDocs

I have been doing a brainstorming activity for a while with groups, but yesterday, it was especially productive. I was doing a workshop on e-portfolios at a community college. We spent the morning exploring issues of e-portfolio development in a large group, lecture-style. After lunch, we moved to a computer lab, where I led them through several exercises to help them put together a plan for implementation. I did an almost identical set of exercises in my workshop in New Hampshire in August, but it took a lot longer because then we were using pen and paper.

On Friday, I had the participants organize in groups (sitting together around a person who had a Google account). Each team gave themselves a name. Then I had each team set up a GoogleDoc to store their brainstorming ideas, sharing these documents with me and the person in the organization who was responsible for the meeting, who needed a record of all of their work… I just needed to share their results on the projector so all could see. It is so much more efficient than paper and pencil or flipcharts and markers. I know this is not an original idea… it just worked so well for me, especially when they shortened my afternoon workshop by one hour (so that participants could avoid Friday afternoon traffic in Boston… I soon found out what they meant as I made my way toward the airport!)

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Thursday, September 17, 2009


Another Midnight Class

Last night, I worked with a group of elementary teachers at midnight (for me), lunchtime for them... in Mumbai! I am starting an ePortfolio project with teachers at the American School of Bombay. This is a school with 1-1 laptops from third grade! And I get to visit the school for a conference at the end of February 2010, when I will get a chance to meet the teachers face-to-face, and see the ePortfolios that their students are building. They are part of my research for my book.

This time, I shared my desktop with Adobe Connect, and they called my phone for the audio. I was told the screensharing was much better that using Skype's new feature, and phone audio was more consistent... and when you have teachers on a short lunch break, that is important. We are also using a Ning social network between sessions. The school bought the elementary teachers Elizabeth Hebert's book, The Power of Portfolios, covering the pedagogy of portfolios in elementary schools. The book doesn't address the use of technology for this process, but together we will select the appropriate tools for students to use.  There are three third-grade teachers participating... it will be fun to see what their students can manage. It won't be a typical school situation, but I know we will learn a lot from each other.

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Saturday, August 22, 2009


Two diverse workshops

This week I was "on the road again" to Texas and Ohio. In Texas, I worked with 3rd-8th grade teachers in a school district, focusing on ePortfolios and the three levels of implementation using a blogging platform (they are using EduBlogs which is based on WordPress). In a previous entry, I provided a link to the diagram that I developed to explain the process between Level 2 (collection+reflection in blog entries) and Level 3 (selection+reflection in thematically-organized pages). After sharing this diagram with my colleagues at Seattle Pacific University, I modified the diagram for higher education, based on how they are actually developing "bPortfolios" using So I have posted both a K-12 version and a higher education version of my latest concept map. I also set up a Google Site to support my work with the district.

During the latter part of the week, I worked with a small college in Ohio to help a group of faculty members to adopt one new Web 2.0 tool in one of their classes this fall and next spring. I introduced a range of technologies, modeling the use of Google Sites and GoogleDocs. I love it when I learn something new while I am teaching: in a discussion of RSS, I learned how to subscribe to changes in a Google site (by eMail, not RSS). We also explored blogs, Twitter, networking through Google groups and Ning. I also wrapped up the workshop with an introduction to digital storytelling, with lots of higher ed examples. The participants downloaded Audacity, and explored ways that they could add audio clips to their courses in their CMS. From feedback, I hear that they want more on digital storytelling (no surprise!). I will be back there in January for a feedback and sharing session before the spring semester. I will also provide an introduction to creating digital stories (script development, image selection), so that they can prepare a digital story about their learning by the end of the school year. I will be back in late April or early May to do a hands-on workshop so that they can construct their stories. The faculty participants had new laptops (either Mac or Windows), but the experience was almost the same, since we were focusing on web-based tools. I am looking forward to working with them over the rest of this school year, to help these faculty tell the story of their Web 2.0 discoveries.

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Saturday, June 13, 2009


Two Storytelling Workshops in one week

On Monday last week, I facilitated a short, one-day digital storytelling workshop for a nearby high school in Washington, sort of scheduled at the last minute. The students took a document that they had already written in their sophomore English class, we did a quick recording, and they created very short stories (most less than two minutes). That workshop showed us that the students could create stories in about four hours, if they have their stories already written, and brought their images to the workshop already in digital formats (some of them incorporated images from a Creative Commons Advanced Flickr search). Several of the students had never seen MovieMaker2 or Audacity before, but picked up the process very quickly, most even adding music. The teachers were impressed with the speed with which these students developed their digital stories. Of course, most of their work was done before the workshop began, since we used a poem they had already written ("I Am From..."). Next year, the school intends to have these same students as juniors create a digital story from a document they will create about their "American Dream" or their goals after high school.

I just returned from West Virginia, where I facilitated two-day digital storytelling workshop for a group of school teachers and some faculty and students from a small college. Most of them did not come to the workshop with a completed script, so I added GoogleDocs to our hands-on training on the first afternoon, which let them share their scripts with me that evening for my feedback. The second day was very intense, since we had to record the narrations, and construct the stories all on the second day. Some of the participants did not have their images digitized prior to the workshop, so I am thankful that one of the workshop organizers did the scanning. Everyone finished, but the workshop ended an hour late on the second day! There were two different platforms used during the workshop: Windows XP with MovieMaker2, and Macintosh laptops with different versions of iMovie, making it an interesting balancing act. (I need to spend some more time learning the latest version of iMovie9, since I am much more comfortable with iMovie6HD.) Some of the Mac users recorded their voices with the built-in microphones on their laptops, and I was impressed with the quality of the recordings.

We had our usual problems with MovieMaker2, when people don't gather all of their images into a single folder before starting to add them to their MovieMaker collection. Since MovieMaker only creates links to the photos, rather than making a duplicate copy, when the project file is moved without the images in the same folder, then it cannot be opened and edited (with big red X's where the photos should be). I need to work out a better way to explain this process so that "newbies" can avoid this issue. But participants in both workshops produced some good stories, plus the knowledge and experience to produce more, which is even more important.

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Friday, May 22, 2009


Public Workshop available

I am conducting a "Bring Your Own Laptop" workshop at the National Educational Computing Conference on Saturday, June 27 (8:30-3:30):
Web 2.0 Tools for Classroom-Based Assessment and Interactive Student ePortfolios
Web 2.0 tools facilitate interaction and feedback. Evaluate free online tools to create Interactive ePortfolios that support formative assessment, focusing on academic standards and NETS-S. (We will focus on GoogleApps, including GoogleDocs and GoogleSites.)

My presentation during the conference is on Wednesday, July 1 (12:00-1:00):
ePortfolios 2.0: Web 2.0 tools to Improve/Showcase Student Technology Literacy
Learn how to implement free interactive Web 2.0 tools to facilitate classroom-based assessment of student technology literacy, including the advantages/disadvantages of blogs, wikis, and GoogleApps.

I am also doing a day-long workshop on the pre-conference day at the next EIFEL Conference in London, June 22, 2009:
Your Digital Self: Web 2.0 as Personal Learning Environment
Web 2.0 tools facilitate self-expression, reflection, online interaction and feedback. This hands-on workshop will focus on Web 2.0 tools that can be used to construct a PLE for a variety of purposes, and provide a broader look at using these tools within the context of ePortfolios and Digital Identity: Web Aggregators/AJAX Start Pages, Blogs & RSS Feeds, Social Networks, and Interactive Productivity Tools.

I will also be doing a keynote during the conference:
Lifelong ePortfolios: Creating your Digital Self
In the age of the participatory Web, popular social networks are creating new opportunities for reflection, collaboration and self-publishing. This keynote will outline a scenario of lifelong ePortfolios, from families to formal education to the workplace to retirement legacy stories. What are the common themes that support ePortfolio development across the lifespan? How can individuals and institutions adapt their ePortfolio strategies so that they are more engaging, and learners will want to maintain their ePortfolios for life?

Postscript: This happens to be the 5th anniversary of this blog. A few weeks ago, I created a complete page of this blog (all 330+ entries...more than 250 pages) on one web page.

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Monday, April 20, 2009


What is Web 2.0? (online course)

I received a message today that asked about my online course (
I am in my 40’s, and I never was too accomplished with the computer but can get by at work and home. However, I’ve noticed I am becoming increasingly ignorant on all these new apps (twitter, skype, linkedin, facebook, myspace, etc…) at a much faster pace than before. I feel this would help my career to be up on these new technologies as well...

PS. I know I’m a relatively private person, and maybe it’s my age but I don’t get this pre-occupation with young people putting their lives (pictures, video, personal business) out there for everyone to read? And who has the time to read it anyway!
So, I decided to set up a Google Group to support anyone who wants to follow my course content to learn more about Web 2.0, and to share the discussion with anyone else who joins the group. As an extra, the course also covers how to create an electronic portfolio using one of the many Web 2.0 tools.
* Group name: What is Web 2.0?
* Group home page:
* Group email address
The course is self-paced and currently available for free (but without any structured interaction). I just set up this class discussion group, and I haven't really advertised the course except in this blog and in the Google Groups Directory. Participants may go through the weblinks, view the videos and follow some the activities. I am currently working on a book, that I call "Your Digital Self" that covers a lot of these tools and social software strategies. I am making this course accessible under an "open courseware" model and as part of the research for my book. I may offer a more formal course next fall... but that is still not confirmed.

I am inviting participants to have their friends to join them in this learning adventure! From theories in education, we know there is power in social learning! That's what these social networks are currently demonstrating with the younger generation. My answer to her second question:
I have some of your same concerns about privacy... I have accounts on most of the social networks, but I don't use them as much as my daughter. I asked her your question (who reads it?) and her answer... "my friends!" The problem is, in our generation, most of our friends are not using these tools, so it doesn't seem to work as well for us as it does for young people who adopted these tools in high school or college.

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Friday, March 13, 2009


A K-12 Plan

I spent the first half of this week visiting schools in the school district where I am facilitating their implementation of ePortfolios K-12. Then I facilitated a two-day workshop with the committee. On the first day, there were "progress reports" and I gave the committee feedback on my visits to all of the schools. In the afternoon, we focused on Change, and I facilitated the Change Game with the committee. I think they really saw the challenges of implementing a change across the district.

On the second day, we built a plan for district-wide implementation of electronic portfolios as a developmental process, addressing both the diverse and growing technology competency of the students and teachers, as well as the varied experience with the portfolio learning and assessment process. We identified three levels of portfolio implementation: the ePortfolio as Storage (Collection), the ePortfolio as Workspace/Process (Collection + Reflection), and the ePortfolio as Showcase/Product (Collection + Selection/Reflection + Direction + Presentation). Of course, our goal is to get everyone to the third level by high school, we also recognized that there are developmental levels of both teachers and students, and that to be successful with ePortfolios, there has to be good integration of technology across the curriculum, as well as a student-centered approach to reflection and deep learning.

I set up the framework for the plan in Google Sites, but they wrote their grade-level plans collaboratively in GoogleDocs and I linked these plans into the Google Site. We have developed a first draft, which they are going to be able to share with the staffs in their individual schools. I will be heading back in May to help with the practical implementation of this plan. Luckily, each school site has access to an xServe, so they can avoid slow Internet access, and we are going to figure out how to use the blogs and wikis in Leopard Server to store the reflections and digital artifacts. The district has implemented a 1-1 Macbook program in all secondary schools, so this is a wonderful opportunity for this Apple Distinguished Educator to see a truly creative model in ePortfolios being implemented!

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Friday, February 06, 2009


Which ePortfolio Tool?

I've been getting more requests for my recommendations on software for ePortfolios. Here is a request on one of my listservs"
I'm heading a small group of teachers wishing to implement electronic student portfolios for about 100 students. We're looking at various options and wondered what your experiences are. We'd need something accessible from home and school (Web based?) and scaleable to approximately 2,200 students. We are not a 1:1, but may be eventually (really, shouldn't everybody?). Any guidance, lessons learned, limitations, etc... are much appreciated.
My response: Here is my answer to anyone who emails me about ePortfolio tools: "It Depends!" The first question to ask is not about what tool to use, but rather: "What is your purpose for having your students develop an e-portfolio?" A clear description of the purpose should then drive the selection of appropriate tools. [Yes, plural... integrate multiple tools into the process.]

Do you want a student-centered ePortfolio that is the student's story of their own learning, or do you want a system to collect data about student achievement for an external audience (accreditation, accountability). These are the extreme ends along a continuum, but also the major debate in the field today. In my opinion, if you say you want to do both, then pick two different tools, because when these two functions are combined within the same system, data collection/management tends to depress creativity and personal expression in student portfolios. [See my last blog entry about MySpace.]

I will be doing a webinar for ISTE on February 16 entitled, "ePortfolios and Web 2.0" where I will focus on a variety of tools to create student-centered portfolios: WordPress MU (a multi-user blog with pages you host on your own server), GoogleApps for Education, and a variety of Wikis. Google Sites is Google's version of a wiki (replacing Google Pages) and well integrated with GoogleDocs and other Google tools (except Blogger). I just recommend that if you decide to use Google, establish your own Google Apps for Education site, with your own domain name, as a quasi "walled garden" where student work can only be viewed by someone with an account within your domain.

The Electronic Portfolio Action Committee (EPAC) is conducting an online discussion on Monday, February 23, to discuss the whole range of tools that I outlined on my website ( or in my blog, where I am currently exploring what I call "balancing the two faces of ePortfolios" as mentioned above. You can read my article that is "in progress":

I'm also doing a "bring your own laptop" workshop at NECC (Saturday, June 27) entitled, "Web 2.0 Tools for Classroom-Based Assessment and Interactive Student ePortfolios" where we will focus on GoogleApps, but will also discuss blogs and wikis.

There are more commercial ePortfolio systems out there than course management systems (per Trent Batson in Campus Computing, 1/7/09). Most of these commercial systems are what I call "assessment management systems" developed in higher education to meet the accreditation requirements of Teacher Education programs [or as an add-on to a course management system used primarily in higher education]... There are few commercial systems that were created specifically for K-12. With the current economic environment, most schools are looking for a free solution... I just worry about the continued economic viability of some Web 2.0 sites. That's why I tend to prefer the big "cloud computing companies" (especially Google).

Sorry this message is so long... it just seemed like a "teachable moment" and very current with my own discussions in the ePortfolio community [including my own Google Group on Researching Lifelong ePortfolios and Web 2.0... requires membership application with reason for wanting to join].

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009


ePortfolio Events - Spring 2009

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Friday, January 16, 2009


Another digital storytelling workshop

I just facilitated another digital storytelling workshop, but this time, the stories were developed by high school students, not teachers. I did a workshop with their teachers last June, and had a few model stories that I could share with the students. In December, I met with the students, and the teachers who had participated in the last workshop plus a few new ones. The students worked in small groups with the teachers to write their stories. During that first day, I did a brief introduction, and showed some examples of digital stories (most of them are posted on my website) while they worked on their stories. I also showed them the two tools we would be using: Audacity and MovieMaker2. Finally, we made individual appointments with many of the students to record their stories on the day before the hands-on workshop.

Last Tuesday, I helped about two-thirds of the students record the audio of their scripts. I used two different methods: Audacity and a headset connected to my Windows laptop (created an AUP Audacity file), and my Sony hand-held digital recorder (created a stereo MP3 file). At the begnning of the workshop on Wednesday, I went through the process they would go through to finish their stories by the end of the day. I showed them how to use the "envelope" command in Audacity so that they could lower the volume of the music that most of them added to their narration, prior to inserting the final audio clip into MovieMaker2. We also set up a white board with the tasks that had to be completed by the end of the day. Most of the students finished an hour ahead of schedule, so that we were able to have our "Showtime" (complete with popcorn) and they could go home early. One of the teachers used the extra time to talk with the students about the process and what they learned. I appreciated some of the comments by a few of the students about how easy the process was (especially combining the audio tracks in Audacity).

Wow! Even though I heard most of the stories as they were being recorded, many of the final products, with the images that they included, were stunning! A few students, including two who brought in their own laptops, did a lot of the work on their own prior to the workshop (they didn't necessarily follow the process, but they did come up with some good products). We are hoping that some of these students will become mentors for this digital storytelling process with their peers. I am also going to write up some lesson plans to use with teachers, to implement this process in 50 minute periods.

I am looking forward to doing more of these workshops with students. I learned as much from them as they did from me. It was another good reality check for me!

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Sunday, November 23, 2008


Workshops in New Hampshire

I just finished a tour of southern New Hampshire, doing workshops in Manchester, Keene and Peterborough. During a two-day workshop in Manchester, we started by setting up a GoogleApps site, created a journal using the Announcements page type in Google Sites, and then explored GoogleDocs. We began the second day with a discussion of formative vs. summative portfolios: the journal/blog format provides the environment for feedback in a working portfolio, organized in reverse-chronological order. Then we constructed the framework for a summative portfolio, to demonstrate the achievement of the new ISTE NETS for Students, which models the type of portfolio that students would need to create at the end of 8th grade to demonstrate the NCLB 8th grade ICT Literacy requirements. We had a great conversation about scaffolding reflection (and a great beginning template), and I realized there was a lot that I needed to learn about being an administrator of a GoogleApps for Education site. [I also attended an evening workshop for parents on Internet Safety that one of the workshop participants just happened to be facilitating... an eye-opener for me. In my opinion, it was a little negative...did not discuss the positive impact of the Internet, but it was a reality check about online predators, and reinforced for me the importance of setting up safe Web 2.0-type environments, protected from access outside the school.]

On the one-day workshop in Keene, I conducted my first video-conferenced hands-on workshop. Fortunately, there was a facilitator at the remote site who was with me in the Manchester workshop, so she could help with the hands-on component. In this workshop, we focused just on GoogleDocs, and only briefly discussed the importance of setting up a GoogleApps for Education site in a school or district. A team of participants in the Keene workshop (from a middle school) had participated in the "Letters to the President" project sponsored by Google and the National Writing Project:
Middle and high school students from across the country used Google Docs to write about the issues and concerns they want our next president to address.
Since many of the participants had this NWP experience, which they said really engaged their students ("They loved it!"), they were ready to see how to expand this experience into an ePortfolio. We built a GoogleDocs template for an ISTE NETS Reflective Portfolio, which I shared with other participants (who shared with others, etc.). (This is an update of my previous ISTE NETS templates created five years ago.) At the end of the workshop, I briefly showed the participants GoogleSites, and how this tool could work in a comprehensive portfolio process. I think I learned as much during this workshop as the participants!

My last workshop was with a team in a school district, to help them build a vision for implementing ePortfolios across the district. I provided my "New Hampshire" introduction to ePortfolios, then spent the afternoon working on how to develop a vision and the skills necessary to implement ePortfolios across the district. We emphasized the importance of effective implementation of technology across the curriculum, and both the superintendent and the IT director for the district attended the entire workshop, to better support both the pedagogical and technological components of this process. I felt pretty good when I left; there was a clear direction that this district was heading.

What did I learn/reinforce this week?

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008


Google Interactive Tutorials

I just found a series of Flash-based interactive online tutorials which explains concepts within all of the current GoogleApps (note the tutorials available from the links on the left navigation bar):
I want to know how they created these tutorials and if this service will soon be available to site administrators or instructional developers!


Wednesday, June 11, 2008


A bilingual storytelling workshop

Yesterday, I finished a digital storytelling workshop with a group of high school teachers in Monterrey, Mexico. It was a wonderful experience. Many of them created their stories in English although for most of them, it was their second language. I am convinced that the value is in the digital storytelling process, regardless of the tools we used (MovieMaker2 and Audacity). Now I am doing a Web 2.0 ePortfolio workshop for the next 2 1/2 days. This is my third trip to Mexico in the last six months. I'm started to learn Spanish, but it is tough at my age! I'm so glad that I am mostly working with English teachers!

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Saturday, June 07, 2008


Microsoft-Holland America partnership

My dream job has shown up! Too bad I'm too busy to apply! According to PRWire, "Holland America Line and Microsoft Introduce Onboard Digital Workshops.... Guests learn digital photography and video editing, blogging, and Web skills while cruising." It reminds me of the cruises that I took to Europe in 2006 and through the Panama Canal in 2007. I kept a blog during both cruises. In 2006, I had the time to learn Apple's iWeb; in 2007, I kept a simple Blogger blog. The 2006 blog was much more visual, but the 2007 blog was much easier to produce and took a lot less online time to upload (Internet time on cruise ships is pretty expensive). I would love to see how they are implementing the program. Maybe another Holland America cruise should be on my horizon!

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Learning about ePortfolios

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

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Workshop in Durango, Mexico

I am really excited. I am currently doing a workshop with English language teachers in Durango, and we are using a variety of Web 2.0 tools to facilitate the process over three full days; our agenda and the hands-on activities.

Yesterday, we began the workshop with Blogger and also Google Groups so that we could carry on a dialogue after the workshop is over (we will continue the dialogue online through December). I also showed them RSS feeds this morning (using GoogleReader), so that they can keep track of changes in blogs and other documents that have RSS feeds, like GoogleDocs, which we also covered this morning. Tonight we started to adapt the European Language Portfolio Word documents into GoogleDocs. We also looked at pulling together a presentation portfolio with the GoogleDocs Presentation tool, and then embedding the presentation into our blogs. Most of them were able to create a quick presentation, publish it, copy the code and embed it into their blogs (much as I did earlier in this blog).

Tomorrow morning, I will introduce them to online storage, where they will store audio clips and video clips of students' English speaking skills. We will learn how to store those files online in a free file storage website, and how to embed those links both into a blog and into a GoogleDoc or a Google Page document. I will be introducing them to Google Pages later, so that they can see a web page authoring tool.

This was a very ambitious schedule for these three days. The workshop day was different. We worked 9 AM to 1 PM, took the afternoon off, and came back for a 6-8 PM shift. It was nice to take off the hot part of the day, eating my heavy meal in the afternoon, but it still makes a long day! I am really impressed with the participants in this workshop. They are participating in a fast-paced workshop, learning a lot of new technology skills in their second language, staying past the end of the workshop to keep exploring new things. This is my second workshop in Mexico, and I am very impressed! I'm also able to practice my Spanish, reinforcing the class I have been taking this spring.

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Monday, April 07, 2008


Web 2.0 Workshops

I will be conducting two workshops over the next two months on using free Web 2.0 tools for ePortfolios:
The resources for these workshops will be my examples of Web 2.0 portfolios, Google Tools, and my new Options for Online Storage.

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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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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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Sunday, August 19, 2007


ePortfolio Institute at Stanford

I had the privilege of participating in an ePortfolio conference at Stanford last week. In two days, more than 26 participants came together to plan their ePortfolio implementations. A few were from the private sector, and one person was from a local high school, but most from higher education. There were participants from Guatemala, Japan and New Zealand as well as across the U.S. But what impressed me most was how they modeled the use of technology. Helen Chen and the staff at the Stanford Center for Innovations in Learning, drew on the extensive research done at Stanford on Folio Thinking. Leaders of the EPAC, Tracy Penny-Light and John Ittelson, led the group in the planning process and technology implementation. Toru Iiyoshi of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching introduced the KEEP Toolkit for the participants to use. Their guest dinner speaker was Jim Gemmel of Microsoft, who spoke about the MyLifeBits research project. I was a last minute addition to the schedule, and I spoke about digital storytelling, Web 2.0 tools, and assessment for learning.

I was most impressed by the way they used technology. The institute was held in Wallenberg Hall, where Stanford explores many innovations in teaching and learning, so there was wireless Internet. Everyone was encouraged to bring laptops, and there were extras to use. The conference established a PBWiki site, and one graduate student was assigned to document the activities of the conference in the wiki. Everyone was given a page in the wiki to document their thoughts. There was extensive use of digital cameras, as well as the small handheld USB Flip Video cameras which were used to record reflections on the process. I was privileged to interview three individuals and one team about their reflections at the end of the workshop, using the Flip cameras. They also used traditional technologies, like white boards, markers and sticky notes. I'm not sure if the participants realized how much they experienced the process of creating an ePortfolio, especially using the wiki and video reflections. I really appreciated how the workshop leaders modeled the process.

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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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