To begin with, I think articulating what I know and have learned about educational technology from my academic, professional, and other experiences and providing evidence of that learning with a collection of artifacts I’ve created is much more relevant and meaningful to me. Not only can I come back to it later and see what I learned, but I can compare it to my knew knowledge and reflect on my growth and/or change of opinion. This applies directly to what we are discussing with e-portfolios since student reflections should be a key component of their work. When students can look back and be proud of something they did, it can give them a boost to move forward. How many times have you looked back in amazement of an accomplishment. Thinking about the two awards I was part of from ISTE for the Adventures of Maybelle and Penguin Palooza (both sites are older and need updating) makes me realize how much good I was able to do for hundreds of children in my district. When kids can look back and see those nuggets of greatness, it may be all they need to repeat greatness once again. I believe answering questions about educational technology that ETEC professors have identified as the most important things to know and having them judge the logic, accuracy, depth, breadth, and precision of my answers only allows me a moment of reflection that will not carry on throughout my career. It is a one and done moment that I may not even really enjoy participating in.
Having been an advertising major in college, I am very familiar with the aspects of a physical portfolio. It can only be seen when I unzip my bag which means I don’t really get any joy out of knowing peoples ongoing opinions of it. In contrast, had I been able to create that same set of documents for display online, I probably would have worked a little harder, respected the ongoing critiquing a little more and appreciated the feedback I got, whether positive or negative. After exploring e-portfolio tools again, I still find one in particular better than the rest. My biggest concern is the longevity of the tool I choose.
Companies like google and their Google Sites seems long term and a student that moves on can take their portfolio with them. It has blogging capabilities and all the abilities that any website builder tool provides. Similar to that, Weebly is another great option that seems in it for the long haul, and although it can be done, taking the e-portfolio if a student moves is a little more difficult if the he or she exists under a teacher account. I considered a third tool called Thinglink which is simple and fabulous but has the same issue as Weebly. Thinglink is very different though in regards to its presentation style. It would be difficult to weed through over time and although neat for individual project, wouldn’t be a great tool for the long term in my opinion. OneNote is another fabulous tool similar to Google and with a little bit of help can be transferred out if a student leaves the district. One Note has some amazing capabilities that don’t exist in Google and Weebly. For example, OneNote by Microsoft allows the user to easily build content while collaborating on whatever it my be. You can take notes electronically but typing, by writing with a stylus or by building an image library. Your data comes up in tabs and can be put into categories. Students can build their world of knowledge simply and easily while keeping it private or sharing sections with collaborators. In the end, it isn’t a website, but a virtual file cabinet of data. The last one, Live Binder is a little to simplistic for a portfolio in my opinion, but is a great way to gather similar information into one place. I believe Live Binders would actually incorporate well into any of these other tools reviewed as a piece of evidence in learning.
All in all, I think the best for students is probably OneNote. I think OneNote allows for a long term solution that meets all of the needs a student might have, without sharing to much publicly. In class, we utilize Weebly because I already have a premium account which makes it a simple decision, however, if I was recommending a tool based on student versatility, I would most definitely chose OneNote.
My website has been in development for several years. Because of this class though, I will be reworking the site to cover the elements suggested that I hadn’t considered before. You can visit my site at LeaAnne.me and tell me how you might improve its functionality and enticing presence. For this particular opportunity though, I will be testing out OneNote and will work through the process of developing it. You can follow my progress here.
Play Test 1
A blog (a truncation of the expression weblog) is a discussion or informational site published on the World Wide Web consisting of discrete entries called ”posts,” typically displayed in reverse chronological order. (Blood, 2000)
Blogs are a way to express thoughts, feelings and happenings on a certain event or events in a persons life. A post is usually created by one individual, although collaboratively posting has become more frequent as blogging has evolved. Since I have the opportunity to travel with The Discovery Channel’s educational team, I find amazing opportunities to share cutting edge technology and integration opportunities of new products or applications. When I blog, it usually has something to do with sharing my findings or take aways from conferences. I used to blog frequently, but I don’t do it nearly as much anymore.
The other day, my son came in the room and told me he was watching a Vlog online. My response was, “and what did you learn?” He immediately replied, “mom, do you even know what a vlog is? I laughed. For about ten years, I ran a scrapbook vlog on iTunes sharing tips, tricks and techniques a crafter can use in designing layouts and pages. “I responded, what is it honey?” he preceded to explain that the V stood for video and the rest was like blog. Its a video log. I hadn’t heard the term in a long time, so it was a fun moment to see some things do stick around for a while.
Like Blogs and vlogs, glogs are a way to share information, but in a poster-like format. They are graphic logs. It may have embedded videos and blog posts, but it comes in a much prettier design package. Its almost like an interactive magazine page that you can jump inside. These are so enticing to kids. I utilized Glogster, one of the original glog sites, about 5 or 6 years ago. My students loved using it. I actually got to help them implement the education version that took away all of the explicit content that obviously prevented it from being used in the classroom. The classroom version was really fun. I now use Board Builder with my students. It is embedded in Discovery Education and does the same thing. This version came out almost two years ago.
Discussion boards are just that, discussions. One person posts with the intent of starting a discussion or requesting more information. Theses are often utilized in people looking for help with things like technology. I always end up in one when I just can’t figure something technical out. There are discussion boards for every topic under the sun though.
For this Play Test 1, I re-explored several blog opportunities. I created my blog in several different applications including Blogger, Wix, Weebly and the underutilized Facebook blog. Blogger is industry standard. It is very easy to use and straight forward. Wix was my least favorite. It is somewhat like Weebly, but lacking the intuitiveness that Weebly has. The facebook blog is a little unique. Most don't know its there and it posts just like a regular post, but is easily accessible from a side menu. I like the idea of this one, but not the longevity. I think there are too many other things going on and it gets overlooked to easily. As for Weeb;y, it is by far my favorite for mulitple reasons. Weebly has a classroom friendly edu edition that allows students to all be under one umbrella and easily found. If you have the edu version, your students have access to the cblog and website and all of the professional tools as well. You can easily create one blog and allow an all student access to it or create one website with many blogs and give access to one student per blog page. It is incredibly versatile and fits all shapes and sizes of needs. Plus, you can withhold the posts until all have done their work. Then you can approve them.
I personally like the idea of a webpage with an embedded blog page in it. This allows me the affordances of the regular posting and updating on a blog, but gives me the ability to clearly define areas of sharing resources that I have created or been a part of in my life. I try to share everything I do.
My students have used blogs and websites for many different learning and collaborative opportunities. In my elementary classrooms, the students blogged for reflection purposes. I often would give them a silly topic or a current event and have them tell me their thoughts. We would spend a lot of time talking about what makes a good post and how to entice others to want to read about what you wrote. The kids loved it. We would share a few out on twitter during the week so parents could participate too.
My favorite project though, was building a town webpage. My students had to research and learn about their town and blog daily about their findings. The learning objectives in research and design fell naturally into the project. We were able to visit all ranges of Blooms Taxonomy because of the amazing opportunity we had in front of us. Blogging became part of the pedagogy because it allowed for not only me to see how they were proceeding in their research but allowed students and outsiders to see the learning in action. The benefit of this was that students struggling to find information on something might also get a lead from someone else’s discoveries. Our school’s town is a small town with little historical information posted on the web, so they really had to be creative. The kids did an amazing job and even the parents got involved. We went to the local cemetery to walk around and discover. One student blogged about the trend of babies and young kids having died in a three year period. It was a flu epidemic she later discovered. I was given a huge box of interviews of the town elderly and the kids were tasked with watching one and putting the facts and stories into the website. It truly was an impactful experience. There was a hilarious story about the kids in the early 1900’s having to walk to school through the strawberry patch filled with snakes. The storyteller was so animated and the kids were just so enthralled by her. Although we wanted to make it into a book, the time just didn’t allow for it which is always a huge hurdle in open-ended projects, but we did get the website build and a lot of information flushed out. The use of technology was simply to share and grow. It was not an extra but well embedded and it was truly an organic use of technology, added or removed as the students saw fit. It was an incredibly cool project fitting nicely in the center of the TPACK model.
Blood, Rebecca (September 7, 2000). "Weblogs: A History And Perspective".
A wife, mother, teacher, life-long learner and an avid runner.