My Session on E-Portfolios with Staff and Students

Slide Credit: Dr. Helen Barrett
I have had several inquiries as to how my poster session went that was centered on using free online tools (Web 2.0) in creating, organizing, and maintaining electronic portfolios for staff and students. Well, in a word, great! I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to speak with so many others trying to do the same thing we are. While I am in a better situation than most due to a technology department and curriculum department that plays VERY well together, we still have our struggles. Training is one of them. There is so much to building effective
eportfolios that one person relatively new to the concept cannot learn and regurgitate it all back to staff in a productive way.

Thankfully, someone I admire for her knowledge and ability to share and teach stepped up to my session. Dr. Helen Barrett appeared in the corner of my booth. Fortunately, I saw her arrive and noted to everyone there that she was THE one to talk to about all things eportfolios. Anything I have to share about eportfolios would pale in comparison to this wonderfully read and prepared professor.  Another awesome piece of luck was that my curriculum director walked up behind me about the same time. I put the two of them together quickly to schedule some training in our district. If/When we are lucky enough to get Dr. Barrett in White Oak, our staff and students will never be the same again. We will be fully on track to creating portable archives of learning and teaching that all should be proud of. Exporting the eportfolio from the WordPress blog right to a flash drive will be a common happening for our students in the near future to allow them to take their representative work with them to college interviews, job interviews, competitions, etc. 

Another piece of luck came along when I ran into Sue Waters from Edublogs. After a lengthy conversation with Sue in the Blogger’s Cafe, my chief of technology and I decided it was time to move our entire WPMU blogging system to Edublogs Campus Ultimate where it will get the care and support it deserves. James Farmer, Sue Waters, and company will do more to keep up our system than we ever could. We know that this will now be the Cadillac version of our goals that we have wanted and needed all along. I have already noticed an unprecedented increase in speed in initial loading and navigating within and between blogs. Thank you, Edublogs! Our staff and students are going to be overjoyed when they log back in.

Photo Credit: AJC1 (Hartnell-Young, E. et al. (2007) Impact study of e-portfolios on learning partners.)
Another advantage for me in the move to Edublogs Campus Ultimate is the ability to batch create blogs and users. This was a headache when our system was at SiteGround because having a class or two of kids hitting the server at the same time never ended with anything but timeouts and 404 errors. It was what pushed us into seeking out a better host of our system. Considering we went from a Gig of traffic a month to over a Gig a day by the end of the year, we had to do something proactive before it all crashed down around us. You can go read for yourself all the benefits of making the move to Edublogs Campus Ultimate, but I can see this relationship being a very good one for all of us in White Oak ISD.

Stay tuned as we ramp up our electronic portfolio process with training by Dr. Helen Barrett and implementation by our staff and students this school year.

What is Web 2.0’s role in the classroom?

Wow. This was one of the best sessions I have attended at NECC this year. Not because there was any new solution to any problem. Not because there was actually a debate of an issue with opposing sides (there was). Not because I got to see and hear a lot of great minds all in one place (I did). I say it was the best session because it was a nice extension of the conversation we all need to have, but it was broader. We heard voices of those fearing their presence of even being in the room due to not grasping much of the concepts and terms being thrown around, yet they stepped up and voiced that opinion. We heard from those who truly wanted a line drawn between “tools” and “technology integration” from a pedagogical view. Contextual use instead of forcing a tool because it is the cool one to be using now.  That is just the beginning of the hour we had.

So here is where I am at. Pick through the content from this session and you can find dozens of strands of discussion to choose from to start your own conversation. Find the others talking about it in the backchannel and search them out on blogs or Twitter and continue it with them. They are in this conversation because they care and want to better education for our kids. They WANT to keep up the conversation. I do not know of one person in my experience of ed tech that will shut you down and not converse with you because you are new or on a different path than they are. Most want to learn from others who have different perspectives and experiences. It is what I stay in it for. Link your blog post back to here (since the trackback will show me where you are talking/writing at) and I will join in. I look forward to it.

Linked here is the backchannel of the session. Here are Wes Fryer’s notes on the session as well.  If I find the video or audio files linked somewhere I will link to those as well.

Talk on!