Archive for September, 2007

Communication Tools for a Small Community Organization

September 20, 2007

Recently we (at CTLT) have been talking quite a bit about portfolios as tools for leaders and learning (as opposed to showcase) portfolios as vehicles to make learning visible. I’m part of a team working on a white paper for IT managers on the futures for Learning Management Systems. We agreed to work that process in public with the hopes of gathering more input. (Slow going so far)

I’m also involved with Palouse Prairie School of Expeditionary Learning and its communication needs are really the focus of this post.

We have several needs:
Ready communication by email with an audience. We have struggled to maintain lists of supporters, have ended up with multiple lists, have had lists go stale, have undoubtedly had people who wanted on the list get lost because getting them on was not simple.

We have also struggled with documents. Managing the most current version of a document, keeping up files of minutes and agendas, too much email tag.

Public facing web site. Something simple to maintain, fresh, with access to the resources that might be wanted. Something that can be the ready answer to how do I…

Calendars of Board meetings and other activities. This is pretty sparse.

All of which leads to email tag, phone tag, missed opportunities, missed meetings and general struggle.

Presently we have a Blogger blog for news (and open to comment), a Google Group (email in perspectives), and a website made with Google Pages, and two Google calendars (a private one for the Board, and a public one). We don’t have a place to keep working documents for collaboration, and we don’t have a public archive of our documents (given that we are attempting to launch a public entity, making the documents public seems reasonable).

What we don’t have is the perspective of having a portfolio of this project, a place to lay out our goals and our tools for assessing progress toward those goals. The Google Group allows email postings, and interested people can subscribe themselves to get emai but the UI & display is clunky. Blogger allows comments but you can’t subscribe to it as readily (unless you are RSS enabled). Google Pages does not allow distributed ownership/ editing and isn’t working too well to pull all these pieces together.

We need to unify all this into a structure that the Board, and other supports, can readily maintain and that makes a good public facing presence for the project. It seems that might be some form of project portfolio, but the platform is not clear.

eLearning 2.0 Talk for Educause

September 17, 2007

We (Ashley Ater-Kranov, Theron DesRosier, Jayme Jacobson and I) just put in a proposal for the Educause Learning Initiative 2008 Annual Meeting: Connecting and Reflecting: Preparing Learners for Life 2.0, January 28–30, 2008 San Antonio, Texas.

Our proposal is “ePortfolio 2.0: expanding our views of portfolio”

Abstract (50 words max)

George Hotz’ blog chronicling his iPhone hack demonstrates students can collaborate world-wide and create portfolios that make learning visible. Our research suggests students and faculty are equally adept at giving criteria-based feedback. Portfolios capturing learning process combined with criteria-based feedback have implications for teachers, course design and LMS platforms.

Research Results

Ater-Kranov, Ashley and T. Desrosier. Raising the Bar: Communicating High Expectations and Getting Results. Poster. Washington State University Academic Showcase March 2007.

Cho, Yoon Jung, A Ater-Kranov, and G Brown. Faculty Attitudes about ePortfoios: A study for the National Coalition for ePortfolio Research. Poster. Washington State University Academic Showcase March 2007.

Hotz, George. Finding JTAG on the iPhone. Blog. accessed Sept 10, 2007

WSU ePortfolio Contest. Making Learning Visible. Website. accessed Sept 10, 2007

Session Focus

Portfolios have been used in several ways beyond being showcase of best work, including documentation of learning growth and for personal reflection. In the Spring of 2007, the Center for Teaching Learning and Technology at Washington State University hosted an ePortfolio contest that asked students to document their learning growth. The result was a rich array of evidence of learning, and a wide range of portfolio documentation.

More simply, a blog can be understood to be a learning journal, and with suitable summary posts, might serve as a portfolio. George Hotz blog of the hack of the iPhone is one example that illustrates one person’s informal but substantial learning journey enhanced by a collaborative community.

Personal Learning Environments (PLE) integrate both formal and informal learning episodes into a single experience and often have a blog at their heart around which the user assembles a range of resources and systems to create a personally-managed space.

To the extent that users open their PLE space for inspection by others it becomes a multi-faceted journal that makes learning processes and outcomes visible. When the user presents that log of learning evidence the PLE becomes an extended portfolio view.

A key facet of the blog or PLE is that the user seeks critical feedback and collaboration on their learning objectives, which typically involves the creation of social networks that cross institutional boundaries and are intended to place the learner at the central node in a learning community. We have evidence that demonstrates that students are at least as adept at faculty at providing criteria-based feedback, which opens the potential that giving of critical feedback can be scaled much larger than what faculty alone can provide.

This presentation will explore the blurring of the lines between portfolio, blog and personal learning environments and a parallel blurring between novice and expert feedback when novice feedback is appropriately scaffoled and guided. We will invite participants to join in the exploration and the implications they have for teachers, course design, assessment of learning, and IT planning around LMS and other supporting tools.

We are going to be working on this (sketchy) proposal for Active Learning Strategies in the session and welcome feedback:

The audience will collaborate in an analysis and deconstruction George Hotz’ blog (ne portfolio) of the hack of the iPhone. Then the audience will participate in a collaborative criteria-based rating. Audience data about itself will be shared and discussed within the threads of the presentation. Following the session, the audience data will be posed for later review by the audience and others.

Daily News — moving toward Web 2.0

September 15, 2007

In today’s 9/15-16 paper Steve McClure has a piece asking for thoughts about online commenting (which has been in place at the DNews for awhile now). This seems to be part of the slow flirtation the DNews is having with becoming a Web 2.0 player (perhaps learning from the New York Times).The DNews now sports a discrete link “RSS” that goes to a page of RSS feeds. They render in Firefox and Safari, but when you try to follow the “more…” link, you need to log in. Which is probably why they don’t work in the Sage plugin to Firefox.

So in reply to Steve’s commentary (you’ll need to log in):

  1. Make the local content public, remove those logins.
  2. I agree with Mark Solomon, require an identity to comment, one identity/user
  3. Allow trackback from blogs as an alternative way to comment.
  4. Link to stuff in your online editions, and implement ping/trackback so when you link to other blogs, your pieces appear as comments there.

As you pursue this exploration, keep in contact with your News counterparts at WSU who interested in creating “Global WSU” and are beginning to look into “Global Internet Competencies,” like blogging by top administrators as vehicles to keep administration connected to employees and other constituents.

Beyond the LMS, issues for campus IT planning

September 12, 2007

I spent an hour today working on our Beyond LMS white paper. This link is to a site where you can look at our collaboration in progress.

The challenge I was working on is taking Gary’s outline and beginning to turn it into 4 pages (max) of engaging prose, that ideally can have pictures and other formatting to make an attractive handout for Educause. I used “track changes” It turns out that anonymous readers can NOT also see the version history (you can hover over the link to the document and see the drop down menu, but then you get challenged. (Arrrg! Microsoft, fix this. In a site with anonymous read access, that should mean all versions too!)

The specific issue I found myself wrestling with was how to turn elements of our thinking about education-futures into thinking that would impact an IT planner. The challenge was, we can do all the pie-in-the-sky educational rationalization we want about Personal Learning Environments and ePortfolios, if faculty are not moving away from the traditional LMS, what is the IT reality?

One IT planning issue would be to respond when faculty begin to change direction. Another would be to think through how IT should go directly to students (or how IT would prefer to cede student-student collaboration to Google).

Since the link above does not provide a means for public comment, use this post to address our collaboration.

PLEs and University IT Planning

September 10, 2007

Writing a synthesis on Personal Learning Environments (PLE) David Delgado says:

The course-oriented, teacher-centered approach of the LMS was not enough to cope with this new ideas in e-learning, and a new concept was used: the Personal Learning Environment (PLE). Personal Learning Environments are systems that help learners take control of and manage their own learning, they are distributed, social and learner-centric. They are composed of a suite of tools that the learner uses to learn whatever they want. So, the learner chooses their own personal learning environment, taking whatever tools that help them to achieve their own goals. Different people have different ideas to build their own PLE.

He goes on to say “I still use my old LMS to build formal courses, workshops and communities.”

Which points to what I am coming to think is the rub that we are trying to address in a white paper we are working on for Educause on LMS futures. The issue we are looking at is institutional planning around adoption, retention, retirement of learning management systems (LMS) and the question might be how should the institutional IT plan for PLEs (or can it at all)?

As PLEs are becoming better described and understood, and because they represent a different model space for learning than the LMS, it leads me to these questions:

  • How should institutional IT plan over the next 2- or 5-years relative to LMS/PLE? Might LMSes be retired? Might LMSes be used differently to interact with PLE thinking? Should the institution host PLEs, or portions of them, or is this an oxymoron?
  • What is the relation of PLE to course design? In the spectrum of pedagogic approaches (Teacher-Centered, Learner-Centered, Learning-Centered) where do current faculty fall? Where do LMS uses typically fall? Are LMSes destined to that niche by their design? PLEs are learning-centered in current use, would faculty adoption of PLEs move them (either PLEs or faculty) toward another point on the spectrum? If faculty fall at one point on the pedagogy spectrum and PLEs on another, what are the implications?
  • What implications are there for PLEs and university courses? Does the university have any role guaranteeing student course-related data will not be lost? How are things archived from a PLE-based course? Who owns the IP? How does the learner establish their identity within the PLE to the satisfaction of the university (issues of plagiarism, cheating, etc). What about other management and logistical issues that LMS solve now (enrollments, single identity, gradebook)?
  • What are the PLE implications for certifying students’ learning? Can the PLE be used to create a portfolio to document learning? Is there a role for standardized testing? Since an increasing number of students are “swirling” (taking courses from more than one institution at a time), does the PLE facilitate making learning visible and coherent?

    Thinking beyond the LMS

    September 9, 2007

    Last week Gary Brown and I ventured to Microsoft offices in Bellevue to meet with Chris Handley and Adrian Wilson and start a collaboration on what we hope is a white paper on our thinking about LMS futures. We now have a collaboration site and a set of notes from our meeting. The collaboration site is a child of my SharePoint 2007 mySite.

    This category of my blog will track our explorations of using the site to conduct our collaboration and to provide a vehicle to make my learning visible during this process. There are two RSS feeds from the site: Our documents and our reference links. For each of these resources (SharePoint “libraries”) I have added metadata (SharePoint “columns”) to help us keep notes about the item and what significance we think is has for our project work.

    I think our project is talking about ideas in a Personal Learning Environment (PLE) and how they interact with the enterprise and its LMS. David Delgado just posted an interesting summary by of PLEs looking at his practice. I think I need to wrestle my thinking about ePortfolio against David’s about PLE.

    I will also track in this blog things I am learning about the SharePoint site where are doing the collaboration. Since the site itself is not open to anonymous comment (and I can’t figure out right now how to make the SharePoint blog allow anonymous commenting), this site can serve as a place for you to trackback or comment.