ICT Research Grant Comes Through….

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.)!

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4 thoughts on “ICT Research Grant Comes Through….

  1. Al Upton

    Congratulations Graham
    and most humble you are. The value of your research is already evident in this well documented post – great links even for someone (like me) who might be just able to dip their toes in. Being a reflective journal, your blog will surely keep us updated as your research progresses. I’ll closely follow your progress with great interest. Do keep up that ‘time, cost and skills’ focus.
    Love Vonnie’s comment re the ‘filing cabinets online’ model. Please let me know if you start investigating ELGG or similar, cheers Al

  2. Leigh Blackall

    Congrats G. I agree, this post alone almost completes your research. I wonder how you’ll set off with it now.

    You could try and find an ePortfolio package for under 4 grand and test it out for real (buying it, installing it, serving it, and maintaining it, and train people how to use it – clearly unsustainable) – or you could give a group of 8 teachers $500 each to use Web2 technologies to build online identities (portfolios) and fullfile the action part of your research and make it participatory as well 😉

    What ever you do will be interesting to see.

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