Archive for the 'eportfolio' Category

Students: Writing, and portfolios

I wanted to catch up (in this space) with some of the work I’ve been doing for my school:

  • Students 2.0:  A new (and excellent) student-written blog focused on education:  “Administered, designed, edited, and written by a global mix of students of varying ages, interests, voices, and points of view, Students 2.0 will feature content written by both staff writers and guest contributors. From Hawaii and Washington, from St. Louis and Chicago, from Vermont, New York, Scotland, Korea, and other points on the globe, these writings will be united in one central aspect: quality student writing, full-voiced and engaging, about education.”   Tip o’ the hat to Bill at FunnyMonkey for the heads-up.
  • FolioLive (TM): I don’t know how new this is, or even if it’s becoming a major player in the arena – but it’s got a lot of the functionality we’re looking for.  This is a hosted eportfolio application (yearly license fees, it looks like) published by McGraw-Hill.  What’s frustrating is that I’m sure we – as a school – could convince funders to support us paying money to license this application, yet it’s so much harder to find funders willing to support the open-source development of an identical application – that we would own, could share freely and allow other schools to customize.  The fact that it would be ridiculously minimal to customize the existing DrupalEd application to do this (if the new version doesn’t already incoporate this functionality) is all the more frustrating.
  • (And for what it’s worth, that’s one of the poorest video-demos I’ve seen.  A pointless and long intro (at least they include a skip button), and then a series of mostly static slides, with someone reading the text printed on the slides.  Ngghhhhhh.  Sorry, is that sense of frustration palpable?)

The challenge we face (as a school) that links these two sites is  most of these conversations – whether it’s Students 2.0 talking, or conversations about eportfolios – are aimed at high-school students and above.  And if you’ve any experience in the middle-school world, you know that this level of sophistication for students is coming if not already here, and we’d like ot get on top of it before someone applies a thick-thumbed approach to it like McGraw-Hill….

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More Drupal / ePortfolio movement

Yesterday, some colleagues and I got a tour of the new version of DrupalEd, FunnyMonkey‘s build-out of a education-specific portfolio and social networking platform built on Drupal.

Needless to say, it’s slick and lean (as can be with all of the functionality installed). It’s going to be very exciting to see how schools implement this platform. Presidio Hill School is interested in a limited funcitonal use for eportfolio / self assessment – partly in order to not overwhelm our teachers with all the other tools it has (as one of my colleagues urged). Nonetheless, other schools – from elementary to higher ed – are jumping on the opportunity.

In my last post about this, I didn’t point to where the action is really happening – the DrupalEd Distribution discussion group.

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Open Source ePortflios

Open Academic, er, FunnyMonkey just released their open-source eportfolio “package” (built on, what else? Drupal) called DrupalEd. I’ve been working with Bill at FunnyMonkey for several months now, because my school is investigating eportfolios as a tool for students to take ownership of their own learning.

Our school already has a paper-based portfolio process in place for grades 3-5: students do their work as usual, then twice a year, they get out all their (reviewed and graded) homework, and have to select a “portfolio” – not just their best work, but work that shows improvement, work that needs improvement, and yes, best work too. And hte students describe what they did, and why they chose this piece. Since this is a progressive school (“progressive” here used in the educational context), the students also write a brief commentary on emotional and social growth over that time period as well.

The school’s new head, Brian Thomas, has been working on the idea of ongoing student self-evaluation for a few years now, and came to me as the new Tech Director to see if we could find a tool to support this process. I figured there had to be an open-source tool out there, but many of the existing ones are focused at higher-ed (and / or are proprietary)- and I guessed that the Moodle/ Drupal folks migh have something going that was more flexible and could meet our more modest needs. Lo, I found Bill and OpenAcademic (and FunnyMonkey).

Currently we (the school) are trying to get donors to support the development of this tool. Not only is the tool built on open-srouce technlogy (so any functionality we have built then gets shard out to the rest of the world), but PHS is committed to sharing and freely publishing what may be the more important part of this – the process and pedagogy. Because it’s actually about improving education and learning, not about how cool the tool is – even the FunnyMonkeys agree.

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