E- Portfolio Professional Learning Conference

South Australia really is a very small place. I'm signing in here at EDC and another teacher recognises me from my blog! How amazing - maybe a conference of this nature attracts like minded educators - could be a few more new connections to learn from by the end of the day.
Professional Standards has been touched on - we all got a leaflet outlining the important bits. I'll have to check it out. The next speaker, Louise Waiblinger, is really pointing out that the whole point of the day is driven by these standards, and how this concept is supported by e-portfolios.
Next up on the agenda is Dr.Helen Barrett as the first keynote speaker. She makes reference to paper based portfolios by Dr. Elizabeth Hebert. We then did an activity based on what we collect - the point being that a portfolio is about memories, seeing growth over time. Photographs were highlighted as a very common item to collect. Portfolios are a very personal activity. Now she's about to tackle the question, "Why e- portfolios?" Students' access to technology is quite often very different between home and the classroom. Helen then talks about 21st Century learning skills which are often quite difficult to test but ideal for placement in a portfolio. As any person tuned in to Web. 2.0 she makes reference to Thomas Friedman's "The World Is Flat." (Note to myself - must read that book.)
Daniel Pink's "A Whole New Mind" book about how we need to develop right brain thinking because computers really have the left brain covered. Helen now talks about the product component of an e-portfolio. In 2005, we have a lot of digital tools to capture artifacts - cameras, thumbdrives, PDA's, mobile phones.
She talks that a reflective journal component if needed. Could this be blogging as Leigh envisages it? She is using of a lot of great quotes and dot points on her slideshows. (link to later) Digital storytelling is the phrase she keeps coming back to. But. As she points out, an e-portfolio can be many things to many people. Portfolios need a descriptor or modifier that describes their purpose. And if they are used as assessment tools, it could be Assessment of Learning or Assessment For Learning.
There are many definitions of purpose for portfolios - what? So what? Now what? "Reflection is essential to brain based learning." is her quote.
She outlined links to:-
Online portfolios
Digital Storytelling.
Blogs & wikis
I was amazed when Helen had to stop and explain what a blog was! There were high flying people from the upper levels of DECS here and they didn't know what a blog was. And very few hands went up when she asked who knew what a podcast is!
Helen showed us a couple of digital stories - both of student teachers in the US. The second one was about a photojournalist who turned fo teaching based on encouragement from one of his teachers. Couldn't help but think of Brett's recent post where he is moving away from classroom teaching.
The next speaker is Janette Ellis, from generatED, who is speaking about developments in Victoria here - an Aussie perspective. She pointed out that sometimes technically challenged educators have no problem choosing content but tech-savvy people can struggle with the purpose and content. Her real angle is from the educator's perspective while Helen's vision was a lot broader and looking at students. She is talking about portfolios supporting teaching and teacher standards. Beginning teachers in Vic. have provisional registration as a teacher but must demonstrate they meet professional teaching standards by the end of their 2nd year. She talks about the differences between the ideal and the reality. Some portfolios are either CV on CD or just a collection of stuff. What is the point of a portfolio - evidence of practice - needs to be aligned to purpose. She used a great example of her own son delivering a weather report as a Year 2 student. There was an audio link to hear him reading the report and another link to view his original written version. It showed the importance of context - if you judged his ability on the written piece, it was very different to the two together.
Janette also pointed out that you need to have purpose.
Why do you need an e-portfolio?
After lunch, Helen stepped back up to the podium to talk on "From the Cradle To The Grave" looking at e-portfolios in the early years of childhood and in the years of retirement. There are issues around the digital media being dated, technology being better on occasions than at school, teachers not having the time to put the portfolios together for kids at this early age. Helen is saying the tool that she's still looking for is a way to tag photos and videos automatically by user or subject. Parents need to be partners in e-portfolios to construct. She also talked about the emergence of personal historians who interview and document the lives of elderly people. This is starting to flow over into digital recording. But, Helen is proposing that we do geneology in reverse.
The final session for the day involved South Aussie teachers and their e-portfolio stories. A group of educators from leadership and beginning teacher groups. They collaborated via Moodle and shared their stories. Paul Luke, deputy @ Craigburn PS shared his Digital Learning Space and his journey. He used Claris HomePage four years ago as a starting point with students and then took us throughout his space. It is highly personalised and geared to meet his needs, developmentally and professionally, with links and room for audio files.
The second educator was Jackie Miers, an assistant principal from Magill JPS. Her focus was her journey to create her own portfolio. She added that her method of learning is to look at other people's examples. She used FrontPage to build her own. Using templates, she's used frameworks to document evidence of leadership competencies and use it to drive future professional development.
The next speaker was Sue who explained her involvement in student portfolios since 1988. She only recently started to put together her own professional portfolio. I really liked the style of a job application with key parts hyperlinked.
The final educator was Ian, a beginning teacher who talked about aligning his practice with professional standards.
The day wound up with my involvement in a focus group being videoed about key questions about the day.
- What have you captured?
- What's stayed in your mind?
- How will today's presentations impact on your work?
- What opportunities and challenges come to mind re:future action?
- How will you respond next week when your line manager and colleagues ask the question, "So how was the e-portfolio Conference? What will be useful?"
Tomorrow is a workshop restricted to 35 participants where we have the opportunity to start our own e-portfolio with Helen's and Janette's help. Should be interesting.

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