Friday, November 23, 2007

Optimal Portfolio Organization

Standards Referenced. Artifact-Centered. Personal Bragbook.

In my last posting, Digital Portfolios: Why Do We Do them?, I discussed digital portfolios and how their primary function needs to be to act as personal testimonials about your strengths rather than a standards check sheet to satisfy "the powers that be."

These are all interesting ideas, but how will your administrator or governing body feel about this? We may want to redefine our portfolios, but what do we do about demonstrating that we have satisfied the standards that we have been asked to address?

Enter the Artifact Matrix:

This tool is designed to bring organization to potential chaos. Notice how the artifacts are listed in the second column followed by 11 columns to the right. Each of these columns correlates with a standard. Notice that it isn't like a standard-based notebook portfolio where the standards are "front and center." The matrix allows you to place the artifacts in the center of it all and then align them with the standards.

Based upon the strategy that I suggested for selecting your artifacts to demonstrate your strengths, you would probably see a collection of artifacts that address a specific area of interest. The rest of the artifacts would be ones that the educator used to fill-in the standards that weren't addressed by primary collection. Unfortunately, the example above doesn't fit this suggestion, but it wasn't created when I was advocating this new approach.

If you want to see more about this, you will want to visit our website at More specifically, you will want to read about this in the artifact matrix-specific pages on the DPME site.

So we have a strategy for selecting artifacts and organizing them in your portfolio, how should we present the artifact? It's more than just linking to the actual artifact, you need to provide a reflection about the artifact.

Stay tuned to this blog and we will discuss it in my next posting.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Digital Portfolios: Why Do We Do Them?

Digital Portfolios are an interest of mine. A few years ago, Andy Krumm and I developed some templates to assist educators in creating digital portfolios that are aligned with their professional standards. These are called the Digital Portfolios Made Easy templates.
Since then, we have done workshops and lectures across the country about creating digital portfolios and how these templates can assist professionals in displaying their work.

The most interesting part of doing workshops on creating portfolios is discussing the motivation for creating a portfolio. The primary reason for creating a portfolio is "because my employer wants me to create a portfolio." This is usually quickly followed with "they want to see if I fulfill all of the standards." This last comment is usually filled with confusion and frustration with the idea that the portfolio needs to address multiple standards and criteria. In the case of the Iowa Teaching Standards, the educators need to address 8 standards which organize 42 criteria. This is daunting.

Typically, portfolio workshops that teach alignment with standards will provide the learners with a list of 42 criteria and a list of artifact samples. The educators are then asked to make a list of personal artifacts that will align with each of the criteria. I must admit that I have done this in the past and it is COMPLETELY BACKWARDS!!!

The emphasis of portfolio MUST be the artifacts, NOT the standards. We have been promoting this for 4 years but it suddenly dawned on me that we were not promoting that in our workshops. It MUST be about the portfolio creator NOT the evaluators.

We have coined two terms that explain different format (and mindsets) for creating portfolios,
these terms are "Standards Indexed" and "Standards Referenced."

Standards Indexed: This is the typical format where a notebook (electronic or otherwise) is created with a tab for each standard. Printed copies of each artifact that addresses that standard are then inserted behind that tab and a person's success in addressing a specific standard is defined by how thick that part of the notebook happens to be.

Standards Referenced: This format places the artifact (and its creator) at the center of the arena. The professional defines her/his area of specialty and then selects the artifacts that best exemplify that area of expertise. Each artifact is then analyzed as to which standards/criteria are addressed. Additional artifacts are then added to the portfolio to fulfill addressing the other standards/criteria.

As you can see, the Standards Referenced format for the portfolio is more professional-centered than the Standards Indexed.

I taught a digital portfolio workshop for Cedar Falls Community Schools here in Iowa. I introduced the portfolio as a way to "brag about yourself." Realize what you do well and identify what you can use to show how well you do it. This approach gives a whole different perspective to creating portfolios.

I was amazed by the completely different attitude that the professionals in my class had about portfolios when completed the first class. I gave them a worksheet to begin thinking about their "Proud Points" and gave them the task to begin their search for personal artifacts. At the end of the class they were excited instead of intimidated about the prospect of creating a portfolio.

How should this portfolio be organized to fulfill the administration's expectations as well as emphasizing a professional's strengths? I will tell you in the next posting. ;-)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

2020 Vision

2020 Vision is a 15-minute video developed by Karl Fisch as a staff development video to motivate Arapahoe high school teachers to engage in future visioning. It is set as that graduate speech at a high school graduation for students in 2020. He selected this year because these graduates would have begun kindergarten in 2007.

This video is a story of Google taking over the world. Even has them going into solar cells and developing electric G-Cars. The most important part is his envisioning that Google provides a 9th grade through Masters educational system. If the present schools aren't going to use the educational potential of technology, Google will. He even said that all of these schools are provided free because Google will make enough money on the Google Ads running on their school portals that it covers the cost.

I am not saying that everything that Karl Fisch says is true, but it is interesting. It does provide a reasonable view of what the next 13 years might involve (I especially liked how he referred to actions that President Obama will take =-). It can work as the springboard for discussion which is exactly why he developed it.

Watch it and think . . . and talk . . . and think . . . and do.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Everything is R/evolution

I have been fascinated by Dr. Mike Wesch's video reports on his exploration of mediated culture. He has created and posted 3 videos that have documented his travels into this topic.

Web 2.0 . . . The Machine is Us/ing Us

A Vision of Students Today

Information R/evolution
(Just posted in October)

While these are the primary videos that people discuss when they discuss Dr. Wesch's work, there are a few others that I have found on YouTube.

Introducing Our YouTube Ethnography Project - Just an intro to the students who are doing the ethnography project. Not too insightful.

WorldSim Preview for Spring 2007 - This is a VERY moving video about using simulations in the classroom to learn about worldwide interaction. It interlaces videos from the world news with video of what appears to be a culmination of a simulation in one of Dr. Wesch's classes. Being a professor who is always trying to find new ways to get students thinking in my classes, I really liked this video.

I greatly admire Dr. Wesch and the involved atmosphere that he is creating for his students and himself. Perhaps the best part is how this is being documented. You have to wonder about the process that he used to achieve these final products.

You can learn more about this and his mediated cultures work at Kansas State University at

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Yes, I bought one

Yes, I bought an XO OLPC computer.  Why did I do it?  Besides the fact that it is a piece of history, I was able to provide a child in a developing nation with a computer.  I am excited to see what this computer can actually do.  It has built-in wireless, camera, microphone, and a bunch of other great bells and whistles. 

Saturday, November 10, 2007

OLPC Computer: Give One, Get One

Buy the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) computer for $400, and you get two. One of them will be shipped to your house and another will be shipped to a child in a developing nation.

What is the OLPC? I first wrote about this revolutionary computer in my third posting in this blog. It is a product of Nicholas Negroponte and the MIT Lab. It is more than a cheap computer. The vision for the OLPC is described as a program "To provide children around the world with new opportunities to explore, experiment and express themselves."

Dr. David Thornburg spoke on this when he was asked to participate in a Newsweek panel at the National Press Club. He blogged about this experience on the Thornburg Center blog. It is there where he stats that "the OLPC not just a cheap laptop; it is the implementation of an educational philosophy born of years of research by Seymour Papert and his colleagues."

The novel user interface, Sugar, is a child-centered interface that deals with verbs instead of nouns. I must admit that I only had about 5 minutes to play with an OLPC at the ITEC conference in October. I found a YoutTube tour of the OLPC and Sugar. I am excited to experience this new beginning in educational technology.

I will be placing an order for 2 OLPCs on November 12. The 2 for $400 deal is available from November 12 - 26. Get yours today.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Collaboration in Second Life

I was just in Second Life trying to help a friend of mine, Ferdi Serim, in a presentation that he was giving at a conference. We were going to meet in the ISTE Innovation Center so that I could share my ideas on emerging technologies.

I waited and waited until someone IM-ed me and told me that they were waiting in our house across the way. I ran over there and bumped into a handful of folks who were waiting for Ferdi (Hodjazz). Turned out that he was having computer problems. Computer kept crashing so he wasn't able to join us.

We talked and talked about ET (Emerging Technology). It was fun to share. Two of the folks were from the US Post Office and they were looking into providing training through SL. Another couple of the individuals provide online teaching in the medical field. And there I was, a mere professor amongst all of these people in the "Real World."

I was interested in their experiences with collaborative learning in RL or SL. Unfortunately, I started asking questions and overwhelmed them until someone told me to slow down. Well . . . that's what happens when you are excited. It was good interchange.

The greatest part of this was that we decided that we wanted to get together again to continue the discussion. We decided to meet at the ISTE Social Gathering on Thursday night at 6:00 PST.