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ePortfolios: Building Rationale

Here is a snapshot of a sample “shell” ePortfolio that is being considered for use in the middle school:

Screen shot 2009-09-20 at 3.16.55 PM

The last several weeks have been filled with interesting conversations about our ePortfolios and their relationship(s) and effects on student digital literacy, online safety, and digital responsibility.  There are many opinions within our learning community and the issues we face will not be solved quickly or easily.  Some of the issues are embedded in these questions:

  • Should the ePortfolios be open or closed?
  • Who owns the information and ideas in the ePortfolio?
  • Who is responsible for the ePortfolio (student or school)?
  • What is appropriate ePortfolio information for the online community?
  • Can middle school students be responsible for their digital watermark and online presence where school related work/information is involved?

Thinking through some of these questions has caused me to reconsider and revisit the purpose and rationale of ePortfolios.  And, whereas revisiting the purpose/rationale is a simple process, prioritizing the reasons supporting and detracting from the use of ePortfolios is not as simple.  In any case, here are some of the rationales that I believe are central to determine if and how ePortfolios should be used:

  • Audience
  • Data
  • Metacognitive growth
  • Learning style identification
  • Digital citizenship and Responsibility
  • Communicating/reporting

Even though there may be varying opinions regarding the uses of ePortfolios and how they are implemented in a k-12 learning environment, the points of rationale are certainly worthy of moving ahead cautiously.


Carb Slump

This weekend I am attending my first International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program (DP) workshop.  It is great to be back in Thailand and this is my first experience really spending time in Bangkok.  Flying Asiana Airlines from Korea was nice even though we did not have personal entertainment systems.

Why are you attending a DP workshop?

Last year and a half I spent considerable time developing a good understanding of the IB Middle Years Program (MYP).  However, the more I explore the development of the MYP in grades 9 and 10, I realize that it is important to have a solid understanding of the intricacies of the DP program (grades 11,12).  Because of the “high-stakes” nature of the IB DP exams, it is very important to align the two programs so that students completing the MYP (grade 10) are fully prepared to enter the DP (grade 11).  Whereas we are making some progress in accomplishing this, I am ill-equipped because of my limited understanding of the DP.  Therefore, I am spending some portion of my professional energies learning more about the Diploma Program, the requirements, and especially the assessment system during the 2009-2010 school year.

Therefore, I am currently sitting in a DP English A1 workshop here in Thailand that is being hosted by New International School of Thailand.  There are some striking differences between the MYP workshops that I’ve attended and this DP workshop.  I suppose that it is largely because of the workshop leader, but I have yet to determine if it is limited to only this workshop leader.


First, there is a lot of lecture.  The workshop leader has spent considerable time sitting behind a table with her laptop, lecturing (with a semi-soft voice) to the workshop attendees.  The Powerpoint presentation that she is using is filled with excessive text.  There have been little to no graphics or visuals.  Immediately following lunch the workshop leader started a lecture…  there was some major CARB SLUMPING going on throughout the room.  People were completely disengaged, almost asleep.

Other things that I’ve noticed:

  • Little patience to answer questions and engage in discussion that is not on the agenda
  • Focus on dissemination of information
  • Teacher-centered with great expectation that participants do things the way the workshop leader requires
  • Little attempt to identify or build background understanding and to help people build on what they already know

On another note, there are some fascinating people here.  Overall there are approximately 450 faculty from various countries in the world attending a variety of both MYP and DP workshops.  It is great to see some people that I met over last year and to hear their stories about implementing or growing their programs.  Building a professional learning network in this context is quite exciting.

Interesting Experience

When I walked into the multi-purpose room this morning to attend the large group “welcome”, all of the other faculty from my school were already there, seated together, and working.  Of all the faculty in the room, every GSIS faculty attendee had their laptop out, were online, and were engaged online.  It was quite funny to see…

Our faculty that are in attendance / Engrossed in technology

Our faculty that are in attendance / Engrossed in technology