Tag Archives: Mahara

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.

Registered Teacher Criteria and ePortfolios

Further to my thoughts on whether teachers should have their own eportfolio, I have spent some time reading up on the Registered Teacher Criteria which have begun to progressively replace the existing Satisfactory Teacher Dimensions this year.

The Criteria are designed:

  • to describe the essential professional, relationships and values required for successful teaching.
  • to promote quality teaching for all learners
  • to guide the professional learning and the assessment of teachers as they work towards full registration
  • for the assessment of teachers to maintain a practising certificate/full registration
  • to guide career long professional learning and development
  • to provide a common language for professional reflection and dialogue
  • to promote the status of the teaching profession
  • to strengthen public confidence in the profession

It is suggested that evidence against the criteria can be gathered a number of ways including;

  1. Observation: formal with structured feedback and next steps.
  2. Discussion: including meetings, structured mentoring, critical self-reflection.
  3. Documentation: collections of evidence including reflective journals, analysis of learners assessment, records, PD

Needless to say, an eportfolio would be the perfect container for bringing all of these elements together. What a great opportunity for school leaders to ‘encourage’ staff to create an online space as an authentic collection of evidence and critical reflection to demonstrate successful teaching.

I do have a couple of questions/challenges for the NZTC:

  1. Instead of providing (i.e. Word templates) which use a text based solution for teacher self-assessment against the criteria, why not provide an online tool that allows teachers, school leaders etc. to access, revisit, comment on where teachers are at? Sure, lots will do this using Google Docs, but how could we be more proactive in getting teachers online, creating PLNs, and using the tools we all expect our students to?
  2. Why is there no mention or modeling of how this evidence will be collated? How exciting would it be if the NZTC gave us access to an ePortfolio account using Mahara through myportfolio or similar. Or is the old process i.e. evidence is text based, printed out, highlighted and sloted into clear files still OK?
  3. My concern is that we have a new set of criteria, so change going to happen already, but we are not going to make the most of it. Why not grab this opportunity to move this process into the 21st Century with the use of some collaborative learning tools?

Don’t get me wrong, I have no complaint at all regarding the criteria, gathering evidence, critical reflection and discussion. I can see them dovetailing quite nicely with a Teaching as Inquiry approach. My questions are more process based about packaging this up in order to ‘present’ your professional outcomes.

And… it is not all doom and gloom. If you watch the Part B of the introductory DVD, portfolios do get a mention. I just couldn’t catch if there was an ‘e’ on the front…

Also, I wasn’t able to attend any of the provided workshops for this, so maybe these points were discussed..?