Thursday, March 30, 2006

EduTools Review - Late 2005-2006

I was hired (along with the incredibly wise Cara Lane) to review selected e-portfolio systems through a project sponsored by the Western Cooperative for Educational Technologies ( and the Edutools project (

They invited higher ed institutions to be part of a consortium and those who joined could vote on what tools were reviewed and they established a framework that encompassed feature sets such as formatting abilities, templates and customizations publish/share options, ability to organize, analysis tools, sustainability, and technical summation. Vendors could see the review and offer feedback, additions, and corrections.

In spring of 2006 we had a face-to-face meeting to share the results (at the beautiful Asilomar near Monterey, CA) and we held two online presentations. See the results at

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Why have an ePortfolio?

Why does one have a portfolio? To show off your stuff, right? Or to have a place where you can keep things – a storage chest of sorts – where you can store things and find them later. Sometimes students put together binders so they can turn them in for grades, but really one would want to encourage and to have an ePortfolio for the longterm.

Student centered - that’s the number one reason for portfolios.

Five years ago I attended a conference (NLII) and two guys from Berkeley were giving a presentation on the electronic card-board box. This was particularly for teachers – because teachers tend to use the same things year after year, and they have all these old ditto sheets, and workbooks that they tote around, classroom to classroom. I remember thinking how cool that would be. They could save (scan) their stuff in and keep it forever.

Mine is on this disk here, and some is on this disk. . . (old floppies).

Anyway, I remember that ah-ha moment and the reality that this is coming. I’m going to be able to store things on the internet and retrieve them when I want, where I want (as long as there is internet access). Wow.

Well – here we have it – and its name is ePortfolio.

Blackboard's Dream

Blackboard is coming out with a new Assessment/Accreditation tool. Currently called “Caliper” this may have an interesting impact on the current e-portfolio tools available.

There are some e-portfolio tools that are simply a way to let students share ‘stuff’ online. This is Blackboard’s current model. Then there are the custom-made tools such as Connecticut’s ePortfolio tool which is goal-centered. The two bigger commercial ventures, stand-alone portfolio systems including TaskStream and LiveText, offer assessment and accreditation support.

Students first.
Let’s not mince words. ePortfolios are first and foremost a way for students to share their work. It’s also a way to organize and save their work.

ePortfolios can also be a way for instructors to view the students’ work. This may or may not include assessment (grading).

Lastly, it’s a way for institutions to collect data – for assessment and accreditation purposes.

Is this a be-all end-all or an e-portfolio system? What's at the: Student level; Faculty level; Institutional level?

Other vendor notes: I'm hearing lots of talk about elgg, which is being used w/ WebCT module, Moodle's module, and some campuses talking about Oracle - heard only six campuses nationwide have that.