If you want to be patted on the back for being a groovy, totally plugged in 21st Century educator, don't bother going to read Dean Groom's blog. But you value some authentic alternative views and some clever metaphorical language twisting like I do, then his latest post is well worth the read.

I've been harping on the concept of personalised learning and how the version being championed by US philanthropists sounded nothing like the version I know and then Stephen Downes pointed to an article that was very enlightening.


So Dean's post was ringing some of the same bells and in the spirit of old skool Web 2.0, I thought I would leave him a comment but not wanting to lose those delicate personal threads of consciousness, i thought I would re-post it here. Plus, I assume it is currently in "pending approval purgatory" and he might not deem it worthy to approve!


You always give me food for thought and much of what you describe in this post rings true for me. It doesn’t mean that I’ve been brave (or smart) enough to not get caught up in the frenzy sometimes, but when you shine the light on an object in a certain way, suddenly aspects of that object can be more easily defined – or as the saying goes, seen in a new light.

Via Twitter you pointed to a post about educelebrities that also ties in closely with aspects addressed. We have a number of these down under – some have channelled into something with broad appeal to the teaching population, and others have gone all out to deliberately cultivate their educelebrity status. The latter can be found amongst the “founders” that you reference, and from my vantage point it appears like they are mining the Australian teaching landscape for their own betterment. They write articles for ACEL, they win awards and they cross-reference each other because circular self-amplification super-boosts their online presence. Maybe I am just jealous and maybe many teachers find their insights and ideas to be inspiring and useful. I just wonder what happened to just doing a good job at your own school and letting good practice speak for itself.

The personaliSed learning reference is extremely important and one to watch unfold this year for sure. There is the definition of personaliSed learning that sits inside my head and has been part of what I tried to enable for my students for at least twenty of the thirty years I have been teaching. (I have a DECD certificate acknowledging my loyalty for that period of time). But the new EdTech enhanced version possibly defined by its American Z is a new beast that promises so much but when you look closer, it is the opposite of what most progressive educators (which I like to think that I strive to be) want for their students. PersonaliSed learning for me involves student choice, students helping define the direction of the learning and students showcasing their learning in ways that are personal. Education technology’s role in this scenario is an enabler allowing the student access to information that they want, connection to resources and people that can help them in that learning and to create their own solution / product / showcase. PersonaliZed learning wants the technology to be in control, pushing or elevating the student through pre-determined content and concepts – Khan Academy without the choice is what springs into my head. Like you point out, the Z version promises what the s version has been shown to be capable of but reduces it all down to (in your words) “various modular ‘fun’ activities under the trending veneer of gamification.”

As for your description of the blockchain transcript, it sounds eerily like the e-portfolio concept of over a decade ago. I wasted time researching some that idea back in the day and we can see how it has really taken off in schools … or not. Like questionable fashion, even edtech ideas can be recycled in new packaging and touted as new and original. Of course, none of this means that I am any better than the average educator in sorting through the gift shop paraphernalia.

Beware the Z.


During James Farmer's recent keynote at the "Live To Learn, Learn To Blog" event my new mobile went off midstream, causing me to scramble for the nearest exit, cursing under my breath that I wished I had at least worked out how to put it on silent before travelling to Melbourne. It was Alex Hayes who was calling from Orange Base Hospital shortly after the birth of his son, Ethan, with an offer to be part of a NSW TAFE Regional event. He wanted me to explore my thoughts around the concept of the PLE - the Personal Learning Environment.

Unfortunately, the timing of the event conflicted with work and family commitments so I had to decline the offer of a trip to Sydney. But I thought that I'd at least try and hammer out what I would have covered and wanted to say. I'm not an expert and there are plenty of academics and other experts publishing their take on the concept so I definitely wanted to put a more grassroots perspective out there to add to the conversation. I've put together a slidecast which was pretty easy to construct. It's just a shade over 15 minutes in length (which is plenty long enough for anyone browsing this on my blog) and has areas that need further detail and explanation. But if Alex can use it tomorrow in his event, well, that's a bonus and I welcome any conversation that comes this way.

This also helps me get past the fact that my proposal for the K12 Online Conference fail to spin its wheels past the submission stage. Your opinions welcome in the comments.


Boy, this has been a bit drawn out - mainly through my own procrastination and inferior time management skills. My report for the 2006 ICT Learning Grants is up on the wiki where I originally started my efforts. By real research standards, you wouldn't even call what I've cobbled together as "research" but it does represent thinking changed and challenged over a period of time examining an idea that many people in education immediately think is good without any further clarification. The report had to be submitted in a proprietary Word document format but I've extracted all of the interesting stuff and pasted it (not without formatting issues) into the wiki so anyone interested or referenced can take a look. I relied a lot of my conversations with other edubloggers to sort through my ideas so if you commented on any of my posts tagged in my E-Portfolios category, then you may well be referenced.

A snippet to attract your interest:

I found out that very few classroom teachers even know what an e-portfolio is and only very few can see a real use for the development and construction of their own. I did find a number of educators worldwide who have constructed their own e-portfolio (or online presence) using the Web 2.0 tools I originally expressed an interest in. I read and tagged a significant number of posts and articles describing the purpose and components of an e-portfolio. I located many useful Web 2.0 resources that could form part of a “small parts, loosely joined” e-portfolio in my search for possible options for my teacher volunteers. There is a lot of focus on e-portfolios for students throughout the world but finding open, viewable examples from teachers on the web and other research exploring their development was hard to find. I found that many educators are involved in developing online presence via the use of blogs, social networking, wikis, podcasting, photo-sharing and content aggregators but much of this is not necessarily defined by the e-portfolio concept – in many cases the term PLE (Personal Learning Environment) was preferred.

The only disappointing thing seems to be that these grants are disappearing without a whimper. There is no talk about any 2007 grants and the Research Day Expo where the teacher-researchers would have presented their findings has been quietly canned and presenters pointed towards the 2007 CEGSA conference instead. I'll be using some parts of my work in my presentation about Online Teachers.


I've been avoiding this post for a few days although I know I need to write it. I've been reading a lot of my Bloglines feeds, commenting a lot more than usual, taking time to listen and view some of the K12 conference presentations that I missed the first time around.

All delay tactics.

I posted on Dec 27 about my Action Research Grant where I "thought out loud" about changing the focus question. I received some excellent feedback in my comments, but to do justice to the questions and observations there, I need this post to sort through the issues and ideas that they raise. I started with my original question, “Are teacher e-portfolios sustainable?” and ended up with what I thought was a more relevant question, “How do we get teachers developing an online presence?” Maybe, in my subconscious, it's the question I'd prefer to be asking.

Stephen Downes challenges me straight out of the blocks with some telling questions of his own. I'll try answering them shortly. Nancy McKeand gave me a great personal anecdote that empathised with my point of view but I found her more indepth reflections on the question over on her blog. She also refined my question and asked another of her own. I'll have a go at those as well. Joost Robben suggests a focus on pedagogy, as opposed to technology and Doug Noon also links over to his take and offers some suggestions on how to obtain some varied answers. Franki offers a short personal answer and some encouragement while Sarah Puglisi's reflective answer (worthy of a blog post on its own) also offers her perspective in answering my question as it stands. This is my favourite part of her response:

I think teachers develop on-line work for a variety of reasons, and the why do it question is that self check, that arrival of the cold morning after the night of enjoying the rush of creating. It’s the duality of all things we do. I frankly will answer you as I would to kids. I think it’s better to be a maker than to be a critic or deconstructor. I truely think this is what at heart gives me the energy to go ahead and learn more, create a blog, read, explore, process and find meaning in this form.

So, time to try these questions on for size. Let's start with Stephen's - after all, they cut quickly to the heart of the whole idea of teachers online.

Why is it important to get teachers to develop an online presence? What do we gain from that? What do teachers gain from that?
I think it is important that today's students have credible role models in their teachers for the use of web based technology. Students are developing their own online presences - who is better placed to guide them in their development of online ethics, savviness and learning opportunities, the teacher with an online presence or the one who avoids familiarisation with the web? As more schools go "digital" with their communication to students, parents, staff, the skills gained from maintaining one's own online presence means that this change is an opportunity, not a threat. The teacher with their own online presence is a position to connect to others worldwide, and to share resources to improve their practice and opportunities for their students. The gains we (I'm assuming that we is the education community in general) then have are teachers talking to each other more widely than ever before, we have the chance to peek into many different minds and experience multiple points of view, sharing of resources is more widely distributed and at a grassroots level (why would we ever need another federal Learning Object repository if teachers could search for and utilise peer created material and resources?) and teachers able to take charge of the direction of their own personal development instead of being reliant on "the system" offering opportunities. And if we = the teachers, not the education system, have developed our own base in cyberspace (and it doesn't have to be a blog, or an e-portfolio or a website, I'm talking as simple as a well maintained social bookmarking account or online file storage system) then others can learn from us.
In the end, these questions are just as well answered over at Nancy's blog where she points out:

But Graham's question is what really intrigues me. How do we get teachers to develop an online presence? Obviously, there has to be a perceived need. In my institution, there are not many people who embrace technology and even fewer who embrace the Read-Write Web. Why would they want an online presence? What would they gain from it?

I really don't know that we can get teachers to develop an online presence. I have seen websites of teachers who were required to have them, and it was obvious that the teachers didn't embrace the idea at all. It was just another hoop they jumped through. What we can do, I think, is make our own online presences so much a part of our lives that people become curious. Then, when they have some level of interest, we can show them why we have an online presence, what we get out of it. Then, I guess, they either get it or they don't. If they do, we can offer to help them. If they don't, we just move on.

And I guess another question is whether or not all teachers should have an online presence. My answer to that question would be, "YES!!!" But why? I am not sure. What I get from my online presence is intangible. I can't really explain it. Would everyone get the same things I do from it? Probably not. But what would they get out of it? What do you get out of your online presence?

Detached and restructured from her final paragraph is probably the better question: Should all teachers have an online presence?

My thoughts come from a primary school perspective where teachers are generalists, not specialists so I suppose in the cold hard light of day there could be an argument that some high school subject specialists could do their job currently without any online expertise. And maybe that's a more desirable objective - online expertise. Although, an online presence has never been easier to achieve, it is probably not the measuring stick that determines the skillset of the 21st Century Teacher. I personally have gained so much from my scattered web presence - but let's not forget that I was as much in the dark as my current non-online colleagues less than two years ago. I thought I knew the web and its capabilities from a primary teacher's perspective, I knew about Boolean search techniques in Google, I'd done a course in Dreamweaver and authored our school (basic) website. Compared to the average Adelaidean primary school classroom teacher, my technology skills were above the average, good enough to land my current role without any prior leadership experience. But that skill set isn't good enough to equip the kids I will teach this year. My experiences gained from developing my blog, the wikis I've created, the bookmarking collection I've gathered etc. (i.e my web presence) give me an awareness beyond technical competence and web search expertise of what my students should be learning to successfully learn and develop skills relevant to their present and consequently, their future. And I shouldn't be one of only a few teachers looking to keep pace with change.

Maybe all teachers should have online expertise. If so, then maybe the development of an online presence is one way to gain that expertise.

This is harder than I thought. And I'm not sure that my answers are as comprenhensive or as convincing as they should be. But thanks once again to the commenters who've really made me think. Actually, I reckon they've done a fair bit of thinking of their own.


My ICT research project has fallen to the back of the priority queue in recent times although my mind hasn't let go of its existence and the need to pay it some more attention. I did take a day out of the last term to get my two project participants up and going. My action research question was, "Are teacher e-portfolios sustainable?" But now as I reflect on that day and the choices made by my two colleagues and the questions they asked along the way, I'm inclined to think that maybe there's a more fundamental question to be asking. Sure, I got the initial grant by honing in on one of the topics listed as worthy of investigation but what's the point of following that through to its fairly vague conclusion if I think there is something important that comes in at a more basic level.

Here's what I'm thinking.

Portfolios are driven by purpose. No purpose equals why bother? An e-portfolio has another complicating factor - technology savviness for both the creator and for the audience. I noticed that with my two colleagues. Neither could be classified as luddites and they both had their individual purposes sorted out but I found that they needed to be shown various options (ie. edublogs or elgg) and then stepped through the process of registering, posting content, creating links. So, I'm guessing that the average teacher isn't going to creating their own e-portfolio anytime soon because (a) the purpose isn't there if you are already permanently employed and the system (merit selection or transfer) still mainly uses paper based methods of verifyig skills and achievements, (b) they don't have the technical expertise or confidence to use web based applications and tools for a purpose like the creation of an e-portfolio without support and (c) it would take a lot of time and effort for something that may or not be used in the professional setting. Let's take it as a given that e-portfolios are useful as a way of documenting professional growth, collecting evidence of expertise and lifelong learning. But unless teachers have a specific purpose beyond their immediate role in the classroom - leadership aspirations, consultancy opportunities, AST1 or working internationally - I don't think that we will see a mass take-up of the e-portfolio concept.

So maybe things need to take a step back. Rather than worrying about whether teachers will get into e-portfolios or not, the question should be more along the lines of "How do we get teachers developing an online presence?" To me, that seems to be the genuine starting point for some many classroom teachers who need to make the mental shift from using the internet as a read-only resource to the benefits of the Read/Write web.

I'm hitting the Publish button now and letting my brain percolate a little longer.

I organised a release day to work with my volunteer group for my Action Research Project on e-portfolios. My two volunteers Jo and Annabel are two educators from my school who are at very different stages of their careers and agreed to be part of my research question, "Are teacher e-portfolios sustainable?"

I wasn't too sure how the day would unfold, having very little time to prepare and organise what would happen. We talked a bit about purpose driving the content of any portfolio, then we had a look at some possible places to host their online content. We looked at elgg initially, but it didn't seem to be what they were happy with. Although they weren't motivated by the prospect of blogging, (an essential component of any e-portfolio, according to Dr. Helen Barrett) both ended choosing a blog base for their portfolio. Having shown them through the basics of an edublog, both were keen to have their new sites promoted out to a wider world. So, here they are - check them out, but remember they have a long way to go. This is also one way of checking their sustainability as well!!! A more detailed reflection soon....

Annabel's site - Ms.Howard.

Jo's site - Ms.Seretis.

I'm expecting big things.

I've spent the last couple of hours scouring the web for information relating to my e-portfolio Action Research Project and it's been hard going. Perhaps it's a measure of my lack of effective digital literacy skills or just perhaps the ongoing conversation about this idea is a bit thin on the ground. I have two RSS search feeds over on my PageFlakes site that track the phrase through the blogosphere and I've been picking through the links coming in. I did find a post from Graham Attwell which speculates whether the concept of PLE and e-portfolio are merging to be essentially the same thing. That really tells me what I already know - an e-portfolio is a lot more than a CV, and is a learning landscape that evolves with the user. Graham blogs from Europe where he notices;

e-Portfolios are moving beyond the first adopters, beyond the pedagogic researchers into mainstream use.

I definitely don't see that here - I haven't really patched my own version together yet, and I'm struggling to get my focus group together (illness, other commitments). Next week, Chris Bennie from TSOF comes out to video me on my project and I don't know what he's going to tape. It's not like I haven't been thinking and reading on this idea but it's very hard to nail down and organise efficiently.

So, what have I done so far? Let's try some dot points for efficiency's sake.

  • set up a wiki to record my project - links, thoughts, snippets etc. (I know wikis are great collaborative tools but they are a dead simple way to make a navigational website and keep things neat and tidy. I'm erring more on Doug's personal use philosophy rather than Artichoke's "let the floodgates open" approach.) By the way, do you like my fancy logo?
  • using Google Notebook to snip key passages of information about e-portfolios as  find them on the web. It's a really efficient way to gather notes as it automatically cites the source. It can be made public too - I was going to do that but changed my mind as I'd have to check the licensing on all of the sites I've accessed so far. Four wouldn't take me long but I will add to this as I go. My link to Graham Attwell's work above will provide a lot of fodder for my brain.
  • set up a page on Pageflakes for this project. Again, not much there except the RSS search feeds, links to my wiki and Notebook.

I've also started listing possible e-portfolio software solutions for my focus group. When I meet with them, I want to have a conversation about their needs and it could well be that one of them wants to try a hosted solution, wants their own domain name and so I am accumulating some possible one-stop-shop solutions. That of course isn't the way I personally want to go - so the next section is a list of possible web based applications that can be "glued" together for a Web 2.0 version of an e-portfolio. I have this blog as one piece, I have grahamwegner.wikispaces.com ready to go for static content (although it's a bit sparse) and I'd want to use either PageFlakes, NetVibes or WebWag as the gluing solution for any other pieces I'd want to join on - Flickr images, box.net and ourmedia files, other places that I contribute to and so on. The freerange approach is definitely the method that will answer the question "Are teacher e-portfolios sustainable?" for me, but whether other teachers will be quite as enthused remains to be seen. As for the video shoot, I could just blabber for a while and use this post as my cue cards. We'll see.

Just when I thought I couldn't jam another thing into my already busy professional life, up pops the Training Day for the PLICT Research Grants. I'd actually been really looking forward to this since I'd received my e-mail telling me that my proposal for action research into the use of Web 2.0 tools to build teacher eportfolios. I thought I had a pretty well thought proposal but I approached the day with an open perspective. If I had to refine or change my driving question because of the research methodology involved, then I was ready for that. It was also really great that we were hearing from Dr. Trudy Sweeney, an experienced DECS educator who is now working with pre-service teachers at Flinders University and is a researcher herself. She spoke at my school on Wednesday and challenged our IWB teachers to keep working to using their new tools in innovative ways. She talked about the differences between traditional academic research where the researcher is completely impartial and detached and the model we will be following which is the action research model where we are actively encouraged to be part of the mix. Trudy talked about the process being cyclical in nature and to keep in mind the fact that due to the short timeline involved, there may only be two cycles completed with the final conclusions still depending somewhat on a further investment of time and money. Trudy stated that she believed that teachers are in the best place to make these changes using what is basically inquiry leaning. In the end the report basically just has to be, "How many cycles did you go through and what were the defining moments?"

Dean Clark also talked through the trials and tribulations of past projects. In the past, theory and rationale have not been very clear - without it, the project gains may not be transferable. Action research is about “describing” the significant events – documenting it as “journaling” is a good way to go. Bureaucrats are interested in the numbers. In the research project you don’t have to “prove” a theory and provide supporting evidence and the impacts cannot be measured in numerical data but in broad descriptions. With that in mind, I revisited my initial driving question several times throughout the day trying to distill it so that was researchable and manageable. I started with "Can teacher e-Portfolios be constructed and maintained using Web 2.0 technologies?" but as I went through the day I realised that was just a question that was just personal in terms of what I could produce. If I left it at that, it would be just a project while the purpose here is research project.

I then got a bit carried away and this was my next mutation:- "Can teacher e-Portfolios facilitate the documentation of and reflection on lifelong learning as education professionals?"

That was very big picture and totally impossible to do in the timeframe using my meager research skills so it had to be simpler, a lot simpler. So, after discussing it with Trudy at the end of the day, I've decided it has to be:- "Are teacher e-Portfolios sustainable?" Then all I have to do is use my focus group as test runs and document their initial progress and thoughts and feelings towards the future. If the e-Portfolios fall flat because they lack purpose or are difficult to maintain, well, that's one answer. And if they flourish and the teachers want to build on their start, that tells a different story. There is also the possibility that purpose will drive the success or failure of these things so there could be mixed results.

The whole research recipient group met in a roundtable and it was great to hear from the various planned projects - using an IWB in a preschool setting, one on podcasting, digital photography to document a school project, using wikis in a senior college, ICT's in Maths, ICT's for high order thinking and a couple of e-Portfolio projects (for students). We had a preview of Centra as a possible way for meeting virtually as it is free for the DECS system although for the purposes of this project, I think using Skype would be just as good and way easier to use as you don't really need training to use it. We had a look at the Moodle set up for this with everyone's project getting a Moodle based wiki in there (ironically, I'd probably only use that walled garden wiki to post a link to the web based wiki I intend to use!) My login wasn't working (forgotten it since I last used a DECS Moodle in November last year) and I don't like adding to forums under someone else's name. Not sure how useful these tools will be - but putting together work in that sheltered environment is a bit strange because the potential support group is so small. I really think that the open web edublogosphere helped shape my original research grant application so I'd want to leave it open to that potential audience. Anyway, the next step is to firmly map out my timelines and meet with my group of volunteers to see what they already assume about e-Portfolios. And start reading..... a lot of Dr. Helen Barrett coming up.

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.)!

Leigh recently posted about his sense of isolation regarding some of his views on LMS, PLE and e-Portfolios. I got the feeling he was feeling a bit like the lone voice in the wilderness and everything he writes really makes me think so I thought it would be an ideal time to give him some feedback on the aspect I felt that I could comment on, the concept of e-Portfolios. Well, I think I got more than I anticipated and I think Leigh should feel heartened by the level of debate that followed throughout the comments (11 at last count and that doesn't include some of the TALO discussion group posts) and I put some of my own embryonic thoughts to the test.
A bit of background - I was able to go to the E- Portfolio Professional Learning Conference where the keynote presenter was the renown e-Portfolio expert, Dr. Helen Barrett. Prior to the conference I had blogged my initial thoughts using Leigh's original post ePortfolios. I don't get it!  and looking at the way he has structured his wiki had me thinking that with all this Web 2.0 stuff floating around, it would be the ideal way to use a "small pieces, loosely joined" approach to this concept of a portfolio that lives in cyberspace. However, Leigh, for his own reasons, seemed very negative about e-Portfolios so via my comment I thought I'd see if he would expand. Here's a snippet of what I wrote:

I think your objections mainly stem from the keep it all in one spot, locked away under password, present only your best bits, preformatted approach which is the favoured format from those high up in the education halls of power who would desire uniformity from their employees. But your practice, as showcased in your wiki shows that a vibrant, evolving personalised professional online presence is something worth developing and maintaining. Is calling it an e-Portfolio such a bad thing?

And expand he did:

Hey Graham, good point... and it is the name I hate - ePortfolio.. I agree with Bill, its pretentious and doesn't help the problem of when academics hear the word blog, they hear a word that sounds like poo, or a wet towel on a line, or a chocolate bar.. they don't hear a word that sounds academically minded... perhaps the word blogfolio achieves what you are aiming for G, a compromise that helps to bring resistance over. But in the end, I want the "free range" thinking to be respected and refered to for what it is.. and I think that's more than simply a way of doing things, its a subversive and political gesture that asks significant questions of powerful economic exchanges. "why are we buying that licence? who owns this content? what's our responsibility to the author of that content? is the classroom a good way to learn? etc.

Then Alex Hayes weighed in with his take.Here's a sample of what he wrote:

We are all battling red-tape-dispensers, arcadian pyschotropic coffee morning-meetings-which-get-nowhere, PLE's, PLC's , LMS's, OLE's , CMS's, ins/outs, blank looks and faithless moronic back-handers.
E-portfolios,blogfolios and the conversation resultant is no more than stammering for the correct nomenclature in a crowded parlour of blogger poo-dom and we all know it.
Ask any 15 - 36 year old bedoper what an e-portfolio is and you will get an interesting answer . no ....you cant take it to the mosh pit in fact try and find it when you've finished your course !!
Ask any cardie' the same question and you'll realise that the 'e' in e-portfolio is like the 'm' in m-learning.
Put there to secure funding, to entertain acronyms, to joust with the 'free rangers'.

Now Alex is an extremely talented writer and at this point I thought maybe I've bitten off more than I can chew, but I thought it would be good for me in my own clarification if I doubled back and had a go at addressing what he had said. Too often in the past in my professional life I have backed away from my own opinions for fear of being exposed as someone who hadn't thought through things but this was a risk that promised to be a fruitful, if humbling, learning experience. An excerpt from my next comment:

If e-Portfolio is only a word, what's the big deal? I must be missing something (highly likely, I'm just a primary school teacher) but how is the term "e-Portfolio" any worse than any other buzz phrase or common usage word in education today? I can't see why the term can't be defined by Web 2.0 technology users / educators at the grassroots - in fact, it would be better than just leaving it to be defined by those high up on the education food chain. We could (edubloggers in general) define what an e-Portfolio is, provide the links to the world to concrete examples so that someone like Leigh could be saying, "This is what an e-Portfolio looks like in the connected world and here's mine as an outstanding example."

Leigh's next comment was important because it revealed his thinking more clearly to me. I was starting to get where he was coming from. But did Alex and he fully get my viewpoint? Read on:

G, I think you're right, but I think ePortfolio is still more than a word. I think you're right if all we are talking about is a portfolio in the digitally networked world - but as you alluded to in your first comment, it is a word that panders to old schoolers, managers and academia who refuse to acknowledge the digitally networked world in the terms that are current. This provides charlatans with the opportunity to sell false things like ePortfolio software and servers, which in turn leads teachers into yet another false reality, which leads our kids into schizophrenic learning... out there is the way things are really done - in here is the way we do things in school.

Alex's next comment was also extremely insightful and put my comments to the blowtorch they deserved in his own clever way. His final paragraph was pure gold (my own emphasis in bold):

There are a billion good ideas flying around out there and in here. The only ones that have global resonance are those that hit the ground running. Realising that the key elements of professional portfolios are imbedded in the individuals ability to demonstrate and action social change, realise social dividends, connect others to knowledge and weather the organisational-flack-attack are in my opinion the portfolio we should be carrying around with us ....so to speak. I rarely shoot things down cause'my eye sights failing anyway from too much Halo.

That was really cool. What I had written must have had some credibility to warrant such responses and I really learnt something from both Leigh and Alex in this exchange. A classic example of the power of blogs and the conversations that can occur to define things at the grassroots level. And I think I even got Leigh to moderate his viewpoint as well!

.......I really appreciate you taking me up on this issue, as it has helped me to see that for some, ePortfolio is simply a conceptual use of web2 technologies - which I think is totally OK. My previous experience with the term however has been at the hands of horrid academics who on the one hand dismiss blogs and wikis, while on the other embrace ePortfolios - because they paid for a special ePortfolio software... So, I think we have hammered out an understanding......

As I mentioned in my final comment there, I think we are still exploring and working on what e-Portfolios could look like here in South Australia. The group who have met earlier this year are pretty green (myself included) but that means without restrictive pre-conceptions, maybe some useful user-friendly and user-controlled models can emerge that can evolve with the Web 2.0 world. Thanks, Leigh and Alex, for the great conversation.