Daily Archives: June 14, 2006

A while back I applied for a DECS ICT Research Grant with a focus on developing Teacher E-portfolios In A Web 2.0 World, due to my interest in this concept combined with my blogging adventures. I've posted before about e-portfolios and their very idea has attracted opposing views about their worth, purpose and future. I've also fed back ideas to Aaron in Mexico City as he rolled up his sleeves with his students. Some of his ideas are very close to what I was proposing in this research grant. Now the grants are only A$4000 and it is called action research which in my book goes a little along the lines of a great Will Richardson quote from one of the early Edtech Talk shows with Stephen Downes where he talked about being in the business of "throwing something against the wall and seeing if it sticks." So it's not big higher ed., Ph.D, ethics committee based research but a chance to fund (mainly through using the money for release time to read, explore and record) regular teachers who want to check out an area of technology focus. Why e-portfolios? Well, I've been to the conference, I've met with the focus group, has great tie-ins with my work on this blog, it's contentious (ask Leigh and Alex) and is just begging for a Web 2.0 makeover. It also has the potential to tie in with teacher lifelong learning and documentation of that learning and it was identified as being a topic that could be a priority for the funding. So I rolled the dice and submitted.... and got notification today that it is a goer. Here's a chunk of the submission that swayed the powers-that-be to give the money (converted to time) to go and explore my idea.

Can Web 2.0 technologies be used to build practical teacher e-portfolios that reflect professional standards and lifelong learning?

My proposed research.

I have spent the past year exploring the impact of Web 2.0 technologies (blogs, wikis, rss, podcasts, digital stories) on my own learning and classroom practice. During this time, I have read varying points of view about the role and format of e-portfolios as a tool for teachers and students. With this in mind, I attended last year’s E-Portfolio Professional Learning Conference where Dr.Helen Barrett was the keynote speaker. At the conference I had the opportunity to view a number of e-portfolios developed by South Australian educators. Whilst all were of a high quality, my own experiences in learning with Web 2.0 tools, including the development of my own professional reflective blog, have made me wonder if a e-portfolio could be made more dynamic, more able to demonstrate learning in progress, more flexible if a “small pieces, loosely joined”¹ approach was utilised. I have also become aware of different educators’ viewpoints via blog posts both supporting² and criticising³ the e-portfolio concept. Like myself, there are other educators caught with their opinions somewhere in the middle.⁴ I have reflected about this in online form on my blog.⁵ Three factors I see standing in the way of wide spread adoption of e-portfolios by educators are time, cost and ICT technical skills. If these factors can be addressed using free, user friendly web applications, I believe that the potential of this format has a chance to be realised. This research would explore those possibilities using me and a couple of volunteer colleagues to develop several models of e-portfolio.

¹ http://www.smallpieces.com/ “A Unified Theory of the Web - by David Weinberger”

² http://www.darcynorman.net/2005/12/15/portfolio-vs-dossier Post by D’Arcy Norman.

3http://teachandlearnonline.blogspot.com/2005/09/eportfolios-i-dont-get-it.html Post by Leigh Blackall.

http://teacherindevelopment.blogsome.com/2006/03/30/eportfolios-will-they-evolve/ Post by Aaron Nelson.


Post by Graham Wegner.

Should be fun (oh, and informative, educational etc.)!

The four MYLU classes have been coming to grips with the PBL wiki where we have been storing all of the learning "artifacts" of our unit on "What Does It Mean To Be Australian?" As they have gone about their task, I have been discovering quite a bit about what wikis can do and just as importantly, what they can't do. Bear in mind that this is about 120 users working and making page edits over a 3 day period each week. So it's not your usual wiki project - it's a bit of an experiment - but please note the following.

  • All images uploaded must have unbroken file names - no extra period or spaces, kids normally name files like Aussie Inventions.jpg and forget to use an underscore to link the words.
  • Each image uploaded must have a unique name - a child from Learning Area 21 who uploads an image named Aussie.jpg on Wednesday comes back a week later to find their image looks different because the kid from Learning Area 22 uploaded another image and chose that same exact file name on Friday.
  • Two people can't work on the same page at the same time on two different computers. It doesn't work! I originally thought it would.
  • Images linked to at home display as desired but can be blocked by the filter at school resulting in those ugly "This image cannot be displayed " boxes.
  • Kids are shocking with passwords and requesting an e-mail remainder doesn't always work.

Apart from those few things, we (students, teachers, me!) have learnt a lot about how wikis work and whether they are a good vehicle to unpack Australian Identity on. We certainly boost wikispaces traffic on certain days peaking at No.2 for page edits (currently  number four today - see graphic) last Thursday. A few weeks to go and it will be interesting to see if it all becomes on unreadable, unnavigable mess or a relevant document on our learning open to the world.