Tag Archives: wordpress

ePortfolios for 2009: Decisions, decisions, decisions…

The new year is well under way and now that my research project has finished we are faced with making a decision about how we provide eportfolios for our students for 2009 and beyond.

For the duration of the research, Inspire proved its commitment to schools by hosting our WordPress MU install for free. This was absolutely fantastic and allowed us to have a secure, online environment that catered for almost every need we had regarding our eportfolios. However that arrangement has expired and Inspire are in the process of considering what this may look like for 2009 and if there may be a cost involved.

2008 saw 60 student eportfolios with that number potentially growing this year into the 100’s. As our media content was all uploaded within the WordPress install, rather than being embedded from a number of other sites, this used up a large amount of disk space and data, averaging at about 100MB per student. Thanks again to Inspire for allowing this to happen.

Let’s look at the positives of this (beyond the fact that it was free):

  1. We had complete control over the site from being the ‘super’ admin, to available themes, plugins, capabilities, privacy etc. customizing it to suits our needs and our eportfolio vision
  2. Unlimited blogs (eportfolios) meant the system could grow as our school rolls out eportfolios and blogging to all students
  3. Private, safe and secure environment.
  4. A one stop shop for uploading and displaying learning. No need to use, and log into, other sites to store and then embed content (unless it was created and stored online like an Animoto movie).
  5. One password to remember for students to access and edit blog.
  6. No adds

And the disadvantages:

  1. Full responsibility for setting up, problem solving, testing plugins, backing up, updating etc. all responsibility rests with us (or should I say me).

So, only one disadvantage, but it’s a biggie. Is it sustainable? What would happen if I left? Is there someone ready to learn the ropes and share the responsibility?

And it all takes time. Problem solving, backing up and updating all while teaching and being a DP. Hmmm…

Additionally, if there is a $ value attached to it from now on, how will this service compare to other services such as an upgraded 21Classes blog portal or signing up for an Edublogs supporter subscription?

Time for a good old fashioned PMI. A more detailed discussion of these options will follow.

#21Classes #wordpress #eportfoliosolution #WordPressMU #Edublogs #Inspire #ePortfolios

Pages v. Posts v. Categories v. Tags – ePortfolio Organisation

We are about 5 months into our ePortfolio switch from iWeb to WordPress. One of the main reasons for the decision to change was to use the features and capabilities of Web 2.0, especially the ability to comment and provide feedback and student reflections on learning as it is uploaded, from anywhere.

There is not a lot of choice in iWeb as to how to organise learning and reflections when compared to a blogging system like WordPress. Below is a screenshot of an ePortfolio page menu created in iWeb. Essentially it is a list of pages as they are created throughout the year. There are no options to nest pages hierarchically or to categorise and tag blog posts.

By using WordPress we now have more choice in how to organise and structure the layout of the learning presented.

We can have a hierarchical page list with the WordPress page parent option as captured on the left. This is the option we have chosen for presenting most of the learning for our students. The students still use the blog, for a whole variety of uses which compliment and add to their reflective cycle of learning. Each page usually has several examples of learning and thinking included, such as draft versions of work to completed versions, along with associated feedback, comments and reflections.

With this option you need to ensure that the themes you are using enable commenting on pages. Many do not. This can be overridden using these instructions, if you have access to the theme’s editor or files. Some hosted blogging services do not allow you to edit these files so it may not be applicable to use this type of organisation if you want to allow commenting on pages. I would suggest that if you do organise your eportfolio in this fashion you need to be able to comment on page. Without it you are denying the opportunity to interact, collaborate and engage in the whole feedback, feedforward, reflective cycle of learning! Check the themes!

The second option for organising the eportfolio is to have no pages except the main blog. This option utilises the ability to categorise every blog post and add tags to further describe the content just like a ‘normal’ blog. So rather than having a maths page, you would categorise a blog post with maths instead. Additionally you could tag this post with geometry, angles, protractor or anything relevant that describes the content of the post.

So rather than having a list of pages you would have a list of categories and a tag cloud which would act as your navigation. Clicking on a category or tag title takes you to the all the posts in that category or with that tag. Also, the issue of commenting as above is not relevant because the ability to comment on blog posts is always available.

So why did we (I) choose the pages option to organise the eportfolios? A couple of reasons:

  1. The teacher sand students were already familiar with organising the eportfolios using a page system in iWeb. Maintaining this meant a smooth transition into the new system.
  2. Post, tags and categories were all new concepts to the teachers and students involved in the project (fantastic teachers and students though!). Introducing a new system, new skills, new concepts could possibly have taken the emphasis away from the purpose of the eportfolios to support learning, not the learning of new skills.

On reflection, would I change what we have done? I think that either option is really workable and each has their advantages. It really depends on the knowledge of the teacher and how they, and their students, want to organise their learning. If it were me facilitating this process with my own class, then the second option would definitely be for me.

#posts #wordpress #tags #iWeb #pages #categories #rss