Tag Archives: Helen Barrett

ePortfolios on the wire

A couple of eportfolio developments that have come up over the last week or so that may be of interest to readers.

Digication ePortfolios

The first is the Digication ePortfolio Google Apps addon posted by Helen Barrett on the K12 ePortfolio Google Group.

More information about the Digication eportfolio tool can be found in this additional video and PDF. It is an eportfolio tool in its own right, but now has the ability to be included in your Google Apps package for you school. This gives you the ability to create unlimited eportfolios for staff and students within your school through their Google Apps account. As Helen writes:

This is a very exciting development. The combination of GoogleDocs/Sites for collection/integration of technology into the curriculum, Blogger for day-to-day reflection/documentation of learning, and now Digication for presentaton/reflection/showcase makes GoogleApps Education Edition the strongest platform for K-12 schools to implement e-portfolios.

While the videos above show how easy it is to set-up and construct your Digication eportfolio, it is not clear how a teacher, mentor, coach or another student is able to participate in the learning process of the eportfolio and provide feedback and comments. Even if this option only caters for the presentation/showcasing element of an eportfolio, I still think commenting and feedback has a place.

What it is reinforcing is the increasing potential of Google Apps in your school to be the central portal to your learning and school administration spaces, especially as more and more education solutions are added to the marketplace.

MyPortfolio

MyPortfolio is an eportfolio tool provided to New Zealand schools built on the Mahara eportfolio platform. In a recent press release, it has been announced that this service will continue to be provided free to schools until the end of 2013. This is great news and reinforces the Ministry of Education’s continued support of eportfolios for teachers and students in NZ schools.

Not only is the service confirmed as being free, it has also been updated to include a wide range of new features and improvements. More information on these enhancements can be read in this document but for me the most interesting development is in the new Moderation Online tool.

I think online moderation has huge potential for teaching and learning, if not just to get teachers collaborating and participating online unpacking and reflecting on learning. I see it as having such a close relationship if not being integral to a teacher’s professional eportfolio. I have yet to have a play with this new functionality but thanks to Paul Seiler at the MOE, I am all set up and ready to see how it works. More to come on this.

ePortfolio Guidelines for Beginners

The Ministry’s MLE team has recently published a draft set of eportfolio guidlelines:

If you are interested in finding out more about digital portfolios then these guidelines will increase your understanding of the emerging importance and place of ePortfolios in the education of our children. The guidelines are aimed primarily at, but not limited to, a non-technical audience with limited prior knowledge of ePortfolios. If you are a school leader, then the guidelines should provide you with sufficient understanding to enable you to consider the place of ePortfolios in your school’s ongoing educational strategy.

Download the guidelines here.

Student Voice

Below is a short presentation for the EBE ICTPD cluster focusing on student voice in schools.

Unfortunately I am not able to present this in person nor am I able to Skype in to facilitate the meeting. So I have undertaken a new learning experience in creating a slidecast/webinar in Slideshare. A straightforward process but the recorded voice just doesn’t have the same impact as F2F…

In the presentation I have tried to give a brief overview of student voice in four areas:

  • student voice in reflections on learning
  • student voice in student led conferences
  • student voice in learning and school design
  • student voice in a democratic curriculum

Pulling together all the threads of student voice has been a great process to go through for me professionally. There are some great resources out there that support the importance of engaging students in discussions about learning and school. This quote sums it up nicely:

What pupils say about teaching, learning, and schooling is not only worth listening to but provides an important – perhaps the most important – foundation for thinking about ways of improving schools. Rudduck, Chaplain & Wallace (1996).

Have also being playing with LiveBinders to act as the online portal for this presentation. This allows me to collect all the resources the audience needs for the presentation, organize them neatly and easily and present them with ‘pride’.

For example, the Livebinder below has a tab for the presentation, my blog, two videos to view, my Delicious tags for studentvoice and a Google doc of the presentation notes. Essentially a one stop shop for supporting the ideas presented and any follow up.

Thanks to @janenicholls for alerting me to this tool. Would appear to be a really simple way to effectively support a presentation you are giving.

Although, having seen Jog the Web (thanks @miriamtuohy) used before for a similar purpose, and liking the layout and look better, will probably jog rather than bind. What do you think?

[iframe http://livebinders.com/play/play_or_edit?id=20133 600px 350px]

Social Networks and Interactive Portfolios

TEDx Talk. Dr. Helen Barrett on Social Networks and Interactive Portfolios: Blurring the Boundaries.

Electronic Portfolios have been with us for more almost two decades, used primarily in education to store documents and reflect on learning, provide feedback for improvement, and showcase achievement for accountability or employment. Social networks have emerged over the last five years, used by individuals and groups to store documents and share experiences, showcase accomplishments, communicate and collaborate with friends and family, and, in some cases, facilitate employment searches. The boundaries between these two processes are gradually blurring. As we consider the potential of lifelong e-portfolios, will they resemble the structured accountability systems that are currently being implemented in many higher education institutions? Or are we beginning to see lifelong interactive portfolios emerging as mash-ups in the cloud?

ePortfolios in NZ

Jamin Lietz has initiated a thread in the MLE Google Group entitled ePortfolios in NZ.

He notes the purpose of the group:

It is my desire to establish a network with those who are using ePortfolios this year as a tool to enhance teaching and learning. I hope that together we can share good practice, research findings, our  journey, etc.

I would encourage anyone to dive on in there and participate in the ongoing discussions.

Some notable eportfolio personnel have participated already including Dr Helen Barrett, the global eportfolio guru, and Ian Fox the local NZ portfolio legend.

Thanks Jamin!

Nga Tii Roa

I have spent the last three days working with the Nga Tii Roa Learning Cluster in the Bay of Plenty. The schools involved (Otamarakau, Pongakawa, Rangiuru, Te Ranga, Pukehina and Paengaroa) are currently part of an EHSAS cluster focusing on enhancing writing standards and assessment for learning. They are interested in using eportfolios to help facilitate this development.

This was a follow up visit from a teacher who attended my ULearn08 workshop last month. We began with an after school session for the whole cluster and then day two was spent with lead teachers and those with a particular interest in developing eportfolios within their schools. A couple of teachers also joined us from Lynmore School.

This proved to be a valuable session with lots of discussion about the purpose of the eportfolios and looking at the best tool for the job. I used the following slides to generate a discussion on how an eportfolio has multiple purposes due to the different perspectives that the stakeholders bring. Before you can select the appropriate tool you need to make sure it meets all of the purposes. Fit the tool to the purpose not mould your purpose to fit the tool. The third slide shows the criteria we used when selecting our eportfolio tool.

This all came from several other discussions I have had when talking about Dr Helen Barrett’s portfolio characteristics. Here she describes portfolios that have characteristics of assessment for learning or those of assessment of learning. She advocates in this white paper that in order for a portfolio to be formative the:

Purpose of portfolio agreed upon with learner.

I argue that it is not this concise and that the purpose of a portfolio is multi-dimesional. The purpose of a portfolio for a parent can be significantly different than the teacher and students. This is particularly so with younger students who see the purpose of the portfolio to, “Show Mum and Dad what I have been learning.” Trying to negotiate and agree on the purpose of the portfolio as being an embedded tool that helps them to become self-regulating and self-directed in their learning is a little to abstract for them.

Our eportfolios fulfil a number of purposes and not all of these the student can articulate but this does not make them less formative. They are still student-centered and student-directed and feed forward to improving student learning. They are eportfolios that facilitate assessment for learning despite the fact that the purpose is not necessarily agreed upon with the learner.

Was is important is that the teacher, who facilitates the process, bases what is happening on sound pedagogical strategies and while the student may not understand or see this purpose until they are older and more aware of their learning, it under pins the whole process.

One thing that is certain is that Barrett’s comparison of digital portfolios that are either formative or summative never fail to generate a good discussion.

I also had the opportunity to work with the Te Puke Principal’s Association giving them an overview of my research and the outcomes. We had difficulty establishing an Internet connection on their machines so we used a Hot Potatoes quiz I had saved locally instead of a Google Docs form. Some of them wanted to use this with their staff so here it is.

Look no further than Google Apps for eportfolios?

Helen Barrett in her latest blog entry has made a big claim regarding Google Apps, formative assessment and eportfolios.

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.

I have a lot of respect for Helen Barrett and have used and referenced her work and research many times. However on this occasion, I do not fully agree.

Google Apps are fantastic. They continue to offer new apps and improve on existing ones all for free. I would be lost without my gmail, docs, calendar and reader. If you were to take a snapshot of my personal learning environment (PLE) and time spent in various web 2.0 tools, GoogleApps would far and away take up the largest slice of the pie.

However, my experiences with Google Sites as a means for pulling together all the strands of an eportfolio for the students at our school, were not entirely successful. I base these thoughts on the set of criteria we developed in order to select the eportfolio tool that best fit what we required to support teaching and learning.

If I take one of the criteria, based on the concept that viewers should not have to click links and download files, it should just be there, embedded waiting for the play button to be clicked…

Ability to demonstrate learning: The ePortfolio solution needs to be able to display (show within the portfolio not provide a link to file) all the possible media that the students will generate or want to share. This includes but is not limited to: podcasts and movies (m4v, m4a, mov), documents (pdf), images (jpg, png, gif) and embedding Web 2.0 content.

In my experiences with Google Sites, this is not possible. Embedding Web 2.0 content just doesn’t seem to work, apart from Google related products. This has caused me many frustrating moments as the embed code is stripped for other content. Again, Google Sites is a great product but are we trying to fit an eportfolio in a package that doesn’t really work?

Regarding the statement of GoogleApps and formative assessment, any tool that supports feedback, reflection and commenting can theoretically support formative practice. However, when one looks at Barrett’s process for developing eportfolios using Google Sites, what I believe is one of the most important aspects of a formative eportfolio, the student acting on feedback and their own assessments to improve their learning, only gets a passing comment at the very end.

The portfolio developer should be given the option of updating the work, based on the feedback and the rubric.

I see formative assessment as being cyclic in nature with the student action as I described above central to the process. After all, self-direction and self-regulation by the student are two very important outcomes. The following diagram (click for larger version) was developed to reinforce this point as part of the big picture of developing eportfolios for learning.

So what do you think? Is the student action component as important as I believe? Are the GoogleApps really the best solution despite my reservations? Let me know!