I have been very interested in the concept of the mportfolio, the result of blending together the eportfolio and mlearning. I have blogged about this before, and here. This blog post is an attempt to pull together what is currently available now for options of creating and adding to an eportfolio through the use of a mobile device, specifically an iPod Touch or an iPhone.
Why these devices? Firstly as an ADE, I promote the educational use of Apple products. Secondly, I own an iPod touch (not an iPhone…). Thirdly, the developments of apps and mobile integration of the Apple mobile platform far exceeds any other option, so therefore if there is an appropriate app ready to use it is more than likely to exist on the iPhone platform.
This following breakdown is by no means exhaustive. Please let me know of any other solutions/apps that should be listed here.
mPortfolio options through Apps
Searching the term portfolio in the iTunes app store brings up plenty of stock or photographers portfolio apps, searching the term eportfolio returns 1 result for the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh web app. In reality there is no real ePortfolio app for the iPhone as such, and I wouldn’t really expect there to be. Instead the question really is what app best supports an existing eportfolio set-up or what app allows the sharing of learning, reflections and feedback? So here we go…
In no particular order:
WordPress (Free):If your eportfolio is contained within a WordPress blog (wordpress.com, Edublogs or self-hosted) this is the app for you. Allows new post and pages to be created, images inserted (taken on camera or saved from web) and comments moderated. Draft posts can be saved locally if offline and posted when connected. More than one blog can be administered, so you could set up a class of student blogs/eportfolios. The ability to post learning/reflections is excellent but the app does not directly facilitate other stakeholders giving feedback on learning. this would have to be done through a web browser. The app is very easy to use and has worked seamlessly for me when used on this blog. App in beta for BlackBerry phones.
Evernote (Free): Evernote for iPhone lets you create notes, snap photos, and record voice memos that you can then access any time — from your iPhone/iPod Touch, computer, or the web. The notes are synced to your online space on the Evernote site, this becomes the container for your eportfolio/learning. The notes can be made public or shared with others at your discretion. However a note cannot be commented on directly, as in a blog post, for feedback purposes. If you were to upgrade your free Evernote account to premium (US$45/year) then others you have shared notes with can edit or add to them, allowing a kind of commenting/feedback feature. Also the free account has an monthly upload limit of 40MB. The app works well and syncs perfectly with the online space. The ability to embed or cross-post notes into a blog would be awesome! Limited to one Evernote account per iPhone/Touch.App also available for BlackBerry, Palm Pre and Windows Mobile phones.
BlogPress (NZ$4.19) & BlogPress Lite (Free): Similar to the WordPress app but dedicated to Blogger blogs. The full version allows uploading/inserting of photos (to your Picasa account) and movies (to your Youtube account) into posts. The lite version is limited to just photos. As with the WordPress app, draft posts can be saved locally if offline and more than one blog can be administered, so you could set up a class of student blogs/eportfolios. The ability to post learning/reflections is excellent but the app does not directly facilitate other stakeholders giving feedback on learning. this would have to be done through a web browser. An added feature unique to BlogPress is the ability to the post the same post to multiple blogs which could come in handy if as a teacher you wanted to post the same message to all or a group of students blogs/eportfolios at once.
Safari: The standard web browser on the iPhone/iPod Touch. Needs to be mentioned here as it allows connection to any online service that may contain your eportfolio or elements of. Works well and is the only way to add links and other features to the body of your text in blogs posts etc. Makes web browsing a great experience on a mobile but dedicated web apps are much more intuitive.
Tumblr (Free): Conceptually very similar to Evernote. Upload text, photos, quotes, links and audio (i.e. learning, reflections etc.) to your Tumblr blog/eportfolio directly from your iPhone/Touch. Post can be saved locally and uploaded at a later time. Integrates with other web containers such as Facebook and can also broadcast to such services as Twitter. Many more features through web site. Easy to use. Limited to one Tumblr account per iPhone/Touch. Comments and feedback on posts can be made through your web browser rather than the app.
BlogWriter (NZ$2.59) BlogWriter Lite (Free): Allows posting to WordPress or Blogger blogs. Full version allows photo uploads with geotagging but free version is limited to text only posts. Also includes an RSS reader. Interface is a bit clunky and visually not that appealing but the app does what it says it will do. I have included it here but prefer the free WordPress and Blogger apps over this.
Tubey (NZ$4.59) Tubey Lite (Free): This app did not work for me but I thought I would mention it here as the concept is great and has potential to be used as a component or contributor to an eportfolio. Tubey allows the user to click, upload and share. Using the iPhone’s camera or any saved images, these are imported into the app, titles/transitions added, and the really fantastic part, narration can be recorded to explain what the images (learning) is showing, the movie is then uploaded to YouTube and cross-posted to your Blogger blog. Potentially cool, but kept returning an error for me and had no movies successfully uploaded.
Some other apps that could potentially be useful for contributing elements to an eportfolio include PixelPipe and Qik (both free but iPhone only) which record and upload video/photo content to up to 110 different online sites including most well known blogging platforms and video/photo sharing sites or can cross-post content to your blog. Unable to test due to having no iPhone…
So what does all this mean? Essentially what this shows is that the mportfolio can happen and quite easily if the container for it is a well known blogging platform such as WordPress or Blogger. These two platforms are well catered for in terms of apps that can post content.
However for me it has opened another chapter of my own eportfolio developemnt to the reality of a more streamlined, less time consuming eportfolio through sites such as Tumblr or Evernote which are easily catered for on the mobile platform and through traditional means. That would be an eportfolio that captures the process instantly through rethinking the capturing and posting learning, and thoughts including written, visual and spoken with the use of an iPhone (or the continually rumoured iPod Touch with camera). I had never really considered Tumblr or Evernote to be a serious contender in the eportfolio stakes but when I see the ease of capturing learning evidence on a mobile device and uploading it, I am almost converted! Others are too, various blogs post describe the potential such as here. However before I convert fully, I need to read some of the fine print regarding accounts for students and also investigate privacy/security issues.
So to finish, there are plenty of apps that support an existing eportfolio especially if it is contained within a blogging platform. However these apps are only designed to post new information or edit existing content, but don’t support the ability to directly participate, comment, provide feedback in the eportfolio. To do this one must use a web browser either on the mobile or on desktop computer. What would be really great is if an app was developed specifically for commenting on blogs, much like the WordPress or BlogPress apps allow specific posting to their respective blogs, an app could allow commenting to a WordPress blog and a different app to a Blogger blog. Either that or it could be a feature of the already existing apps.
Next post will look at mportfolios from the eportfolio tool perspective. For example, if your eportfolio is contained in an Elgg installation, how can the iPhone support and allow posting to it? Should be interesting.