Can schools download and use it or is it still in development?
BCS in Birmingham (run by Sun IIRC) has already figured this out.And there is development on a Moodle - SIMS connector (Q Geoff).
Can schools download and use it or is it still in development?
I have not seen anything officially announced yet.
Very good. I could have guessed at most (or even all) of these but the important thing is that Becta (or some other recognised authority) haven't defined it! We are at the same stage with e-portfolios as a couple of years ago where there were multiple definitions of Learning Platforms. We might disagree with Becta's view of a learning platform but it gives everyone something to aim at.Originally Posted by BKGarry
Looking back at your definition I would remove something very important ie Word files. There is no way a definition should include proprietary software.
Shame would be interesting to see how it works and if it works well?
There might be someone on Edugeek who is in the BSF process in Birmingham and can tell you or at least point you in the right direction?Originally Posted by wesleyw
Or someone with links to Sun.
Oi! ... Mr Trevor ... can you ask?
Nope ... doesn't look like it is Sun working on it but it has raised some interest in certain quarters.
I think it is not just a question of definition - but of demonstrating a requirement. There seem to me to be three possible flavours of e-Portfolios and to my mind they all have unanswered questions attached:Originally Posted by BKGarry
1. An assessment tool. Who is going to use it - exam boards, university admissions (most universities don't seem to be bothered even to interview, let alone trawl through old essays). Where are the assessors who are clamouring for this?
2. A tool for reflective learning, associated with some kind of target-setting system. I suspect it is the use of this kind of system in the Open University that lay behind Diane Laurillard's support for e-Portfolios in "Harnessing Technology". But it is one thing to implement this in the Open University and quite another to do it at school. Reflective learning generally requires either motivated, self-starting students, and/or a considerable amount of individual tuition time. Do school teachers have this time?
3. Showcasing of work + social networking - a sort of educational Facebook. I know that it is fashionable to see social networking as the big educational idea - but I can't see it. (a) From my observation of Facebook, most of the communication that occurs between teenagers is complete drivel with little or no educative value, (b) there is already extensive networking opportunities in schools (c) there is considerable potential for abuse - mainly bullying and obscenity, and therefore (d) would require considerable teacher resources by way of supervision and moderation. Do school teachers have this time?
I am not saying that e-Portfolios cannot play a part in some form, that structured collaboration cannot be stimulating and that showcasing of work and tracking of competencies cannot be motivating - but at the moment I see a lot of possible pitfalls, a lot of drains down which a lot of public money is about to be poured, and very little empirical evidence to show any potential benefit.
Perhaps I have missed something. Can anyone point me in the direction of some research to show e-Portfolios providing value in schools?
The DiDA qualifications require you to produce an e-portfolio - a mini website containing proof of your work and evidence of how you faired, what methods you used, etc. etc.. (These are mailed off on CD to the exam board).
Online systems can save lots of time as well as being time consuming. Evolution will surely see universal marking systems easily applied to a students online activities. Some already exist.
Abuse and moderation are big issues for us techs, and something teachers fight against us about. SMTs say it's all down to classroom control and taught responsibility. We techs have our solutions: automated monitoring backed up by effective AUPs.
If you're talking unrestricted use of social networking tools, yes, it's mostly dross, but then that's what a lot of teenagers seemingly want to do. It's a wanted form of socialising.
You can set up a very similar system in an educational context. Students can share their work with a worldwide audience. Take for example Doug Belshaws' Wordpress MU blog system you mention that he set up for his history students. They did a piece on North American Indians, and an actual Souix Indian commented on the kids blog about what he'd written. I think that's fair evidence of the benefits.
To be fair, I'd put this sort of interaction down as a natural healthy progression for teenagers. They are figuring out how to interact with each other in an adult scenario. Technology aside, just leave them too it.If you're talking unrestricted use of social networking tools, yes, it's mostly dross, but then that's what a lot of teenagers seemingly want to do. It's a wanted form of socialising.
Hi Mark and Geoff,
I am not against what either of you are saying - healthy progression and what teenagers want to do etc. I just question whether it is the "big idea" for raising educational standards (because that was the impression that came out of "Harnessing Technology" and is also implied by the DfES' Learning Platform target).
Nor am I totally against e-portfolios having a part to play in pedagogy: I just think that there needs to be a lot more structure and evaluation than has been done so far.
I had a look at Doug Belshaw's students' blogs. There are some nice looking pieces of work, but I still have some reservations:
1. doing some quick searches in Google show that some are heavily plagiarised (surely an almost irresistable temptation with this kind of assignment).
2. Most have only one comment - an assessment from Doug Belshaw. In only one did I find a real conversation going, when "Danny" had put up a piece on Celtic: "History stuff only please Danny…", "ok mr.b.sorry.,i have told everyone about celtic fc history!thats got to be ok………………", "ha ha whats this all for then? why dont you talk about somet betta than celtic!?". "Oh, alright then…[from Mr B.]". This is the exception which proves the rule that it is very difficult to get children to discuss the work! And without discussion, the blog is just the digital equivalent of a classroom noticeboard.
3. Belshaw clearly has a very good relationship with his pupils and puts a lot of work into the blogs - but does this mean that the idea would transfer to less committed/skilled/IT-savvy teachers (i.e. the 99%)? I doubt it.
As for the DiDA qualifications, I would like to see some kind of indpendent assessment of how successful these systems are. It seems to me that e-portfolio systems fall under the same cloud that a lot of coursework assessment systems are under at the moment.
I wouldn't disagree that there seems to be a fair way to go yet, whilst also thinking that 24 hour access to schoolwork online is something I agree should be exploited by education.
I think Doug has discussed that point of plagiarisation. This affects us all now with pupils researching schoolwork online.
Doug's point was to teach pupils to give accreditation to their sources. That's all other people do.. they take ideas etc and give credit to the source. Does that make them less valid - no. I thought this was a great revelation - let pupils reclaim their honesty.
Belshaw puts a lot of work into his online presence! I don't see that there's a lot of extra work maintaining those blogs - perhaps we should ask him? If I remember correctly he has set up an RSS feed to every blog and just sits back while the work flows in - doesn't sound like too much hard work to me!
I think it's a myth that teachers can't use technology. We're successfully moving our staff into more in depth use with little problem, teachers aren't really a different species [don't read the FFS area on edugeek k? ].
Mark kindly made me aware of this discussion by email, so I thought I'd add my 2 cents...
The reason I'm doing what I'm doing with my Year 10 History students is engagement, but also to pioneer ways of working that may become more mainstream in future. I'm a member of Futurelab's Teachers as Innovators programme and am writing my Ed.D. thesis on what it means to be 'educated' in the 21st century. The point made above about plagiarism is a good one: students need to be able to use online resources critically and effectively and not just plagiarise them. Any student who plagiarises most of their blog posts have to do it again.
I'm trying to make them independent learners and, to an extent, it's succeeding. Homework isn't an issue any more because both I and the students know before they walk in the door of my classroom whether they've done it or not. Again, as mentioned above, I just subscribe to the RSS feed of each student's blog plus the feed for the comments. These are then organised into folders in my Google Reader account.
Yes, it took some setting up and a while to iron out problems. But I think it's going to be worth it in the long-run. The wiki (http://gcsehistory.wikispaces.com) which we've got is going to prove invaluable for coursework photos, sources, etc. after our visit to Lincoln in a couple of week's time. I'm going to get them to Bluetooth their images and videos on the bus to my new Nokia N95 on the way back...
Hi Doug,Originally Posted by dajbelshaw
Thanks for joining in - I was meaning to drop you a line myself to let you know that we were talking about your project!
Our original discussion was about the value of e-portfolios. I would accept that what I would call showcasing is motivating - in the same way as displaying work on the wall, but in a more up-to-date way. But motivation can be linked to novelty value and to teacher enthusiasm and I think may be difficult to maintain and transfer.The reason I'm doing what I'm doing with my Year 10 History students is engagement
I think it is essential that innovation starts in the classroom - but behind my point about transferability is a question about how practice gets transfered from pioneer to mainstream. Does business have a role and, if so, is the market set up in such a way that small, innovative business is encouraged?...but also to pioneer ways of working that may become more mainstream in future.
That is where I am a traditionalist. I think - bar a few new skills - the fundamentals of being educated in the 21st century is the same as it was in the 20th. My interest in e-learning is as a way of improving the means rather than changing the ends. I suspect the Futurelab perspective may be a little different.I'm a member of Futurelab's Teachers as Innovators programme and am writing my Ed.D. thesis on what it means to be 'educated' in the 21st century.
I am a history teacher too - and I would say that plagiarism is not just about 'cheating', but at heart is a lack of skill. And the ability to write original material is an extremely difficult one to teach - in fact it goes to the heart of the subject. But I am not sure the 'internet research' paradigm is necessarily helpful as to my mind it puts too much emphasis on finding out, often at the expense of using the information.The point made above about plagiarism is a good one: students need to be able to use online resources critically and effectively and not just plagiarise them. Any student who plagiarises most of their blog posts have to do it again.
I am all in favour of teacher tracking for exactly these reasons, and see it as a major potential benefit of leaning platforms.I'm trying to make them independent learners and, to an extent, it's succeeding. Homework isn't an issue any more because both I and the students know before they walk in the door of my classroom whether they've done it or not.
Again, as mentioned above, I just subscribe to the RSS feed of each student's blog plus the feed for the comments. These are then organised into folders in my Google Reader account.
Interested to see how your wiki develops. How much success do you think you will have in encouraging debate / correcting of each other's work? Are you aiming for this? Does the software facilitate it?Yes, it took some setting up and a while to iron out problems. But I think it's going to be worth it in the long-run. The wiki (http://gcsehistory.wikispaces.com) which we've got is going to prove invaluable for coursework photos, sources, etc. after our visit to Lincoln in a couple of week's time. I'm going to get them to Bluetooth their images and videos on the bus to my new Nokia N95 on the way back...
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