Archive for the ‘Personal Collab Site’ Category


November 14, 2008

I have been struggling with how to understand and implement a Web 2.0 resume. Today it came to me that I need a new Diigo tag – “me.” I’d put this tag on stuff that is mine or about me: blog posts, pages, photos, etc. Then I would be able to get an RSS of “me.” Further, I can readily share me in different resumes for different audiences by combining tags in Diigo. [The syntax looks like: ] You, the reader of “me,” can gather evidence from the forward- or backward- looking evidence of my effectiveness. I can use tags like me+reflection to mark more reflective steps in my work. Because it’s a feed of things I’m tagging, it stays as current as my tagging.

This “feed resume” is analogous to Dave Cormier’s “feed book” and it extends thinking about my blog as my portfolio or any other one space as my PLE. It serves as both a tool to present myself, and as a vehicle for a reader to walk (via Diigo) other things that I tag and other communities that tag the things I tag.

In the case of things I write that others tag, it is a way of measuring the social capital of those things (and me). See for example what is happening around this article I co-authored in JOLT. Showcasing myself is one of the things a resume purports to do.

It seems that this same thinking can be extended to “we.” In this case, the tag to use would be for my group, in this case the Center for Teaching Learning and Technology. This thinking also makes me extend my previous suggestion about the implementing a Web 2.0 organization website with the idea that we would collectively use a WSUCTLT when we are tagging us. Which clarifies a difference. I’d been thinking about our Diigo group (CTLT and Friends) as a place we’d put stuff we found interesting AND stuff by us. This “we” tag idea lets there be a clean separation. The group is a way to share stuff we find. The “we” tag is a way to build the unit’s portfolio.

Power of Me tag

Diigo-ing a page and adding the me tag becomes an invitation to say what your role is, or claim is, to the page. It lets you build a portfolio of things on the web that are otherwise not obviously yours. It also invites that you write a reflection (in your blog) about the lessons you learned in your involvement with the page you just me-tagged.

A brief history of SharePoint at WSU

November 7, 2007

FacOps started it. They needed a document management solution that could serve as an integration platform for the wide range of data sources that they use to manage WSU facilities. They were running the 2003 version, and evangelizing it in various ways. FacOps, ITS and several Colleges that had started exploring SharePoint hosted the “SharePoint Summit” in the summer of 2004. ITS’s contribution to the show was a demonstration of how SharePoint could be used to re-implement the functions currently served by Oracle in myWSU. What I saw in that demonstration had some big implications for CTLT.

1) The myWSU demo had a link to a SharePoint site for a class and I realized that if SharePpint could be used for a class site, that potential would be discovered by some of the Colleges beginning to host it. I argued that the potential existed for Colleges to begin using SharePoint for classes and CTLT needed to be prepared to consult with faculty and/or provide students with helpdesk support. My subsequent exploration of SharePoint with the help of Roxie Mitchell from Microsoft (winter 2004-05) convinced me that SharePoint could serve as a Learning Management System at least as sophisticated as “The Bridge” [an LMS that CTLT had created in 2000 and was retiring in favor of WebCT (now Blackboard CE)].

2) The other exciting piece of the SharePoint Summit demos was the MySite feature. When developing myWSU, we had looked at Oracle’s personal site and collaboration tools. They did not seem completely developed when we looked (2003) and the licensing costs prevented WSU from acquiring them. The SharePoint Portal tools were coming as parts of centrally purchased licenses, which changed the cost. Since the licensing resulted in zero cost to Colleges, individual Colleges might launch their own portals with mySites. WSU’s history with the adoption of Microsoft Active Directory and Microsoft Exchange made me believe that College adoption of Portal and MySites was probable. Exploring this idea with those colleagues, I found that the challenge for Colleges to give students MySites was that the students might use College resources for non-College purposes. That suggested that students needed access to MySites as a central resource — and a role for CTLT to play.

Concurrent with these events, CTLT was exploring the Open Source Portfolio (OSPI) tools, looking for an ePortfolio platform to offer the university. The SharePoint platform as ePortfolio was more appealing than OSPI for several reasons: 1) support and scalability, 2) overlapping skills/training (if faculty were being moved to SharePoint for enterprise-wide business reasons, the skills they learned would transfer to ePorfolios without needing to learn another tools 3) worldware (skill students built in SharePoint would more likely be applicable on the job than skills built in OSPI. 4) Personal control of a collaborative resource that was outside of any course, and could span a student’s career at the university (and possibly beyond).

By Spring 2006 CTLT had formed a partnership with ITS where ITS would deploy, and CTLT would provide user support for, SharePoint 2003 Portal (and MySites) for all current students and employees. At the same time we collaborated to create a SharePoint LMS offering — with the rationale that if faculty had MySite, they would (and already have) used it for their classes. The problem for the institution with classes in MySites is that its harder to provide central support (such as automatically arranging the student enrollment) and providing backup for records retention (since quite likely that the institution will have no knowledge of the class in the faculty’s MySite). Bellevue Community College was a year ahead of WSU with SharePoint MySites, and was having this experience. Thus, the MyClass LMS offering was initially motivated by “self-defense” against classes in MySites.

SharePoint for classes, while powerful and using the same SharePoint skills and training, is limited because it lacks a gradebook for sharing scores between instructor and student and a quiz/testing tool, which is popular as a testing strategy in some online courses. SharePoint is presently better suited to courses with discussions, project collaboration, or for courses where the instructor needs to share documents to students and the interaction otherwise takes place in the classroom.

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.

Pandemic Flu and the Web 2.0 University

April 18, 2007

Washington State University is going through an exercise to plan for a pandemic and the dispersion of faculty and students without canceling classes or closing the university (we don’t want to refund tuition). The thinking is along the lines of moving all the current face-to-face courses into WebCT and continue online. Presently there are 3500 group instruction course sections/semester (not counting thesis and other individualized directed study classes) and currently ~1000 are being offered or supplemented in WebCT. The question is, how would the university add by ~2500 sections in the run-up to a pandemic outbreak?

If we start the scale up now, moving all sections online, we could develop a deliberate process and given time, move each course, including providing the training, etc. needed. Ideally, we would include course design work in the process with the goal of improving the learning outcomes of the courses while we were at it.
If we wait until the next flu season and an immenent declaration of an emergency, there does not seem to be any way to expect that we could scale up the hardware or the faculty training, especially given that some of the key people might become sick themselves.

So assume the university could decide to, and successfully go down the deliberate scale-up path. We need to consider that WebCT and the WSU campus network are potential single points of failure. Individual students or faculty might also experience single points of failure with their ISPs. Using a traditional model of an online course: readings, PowerPoint, video/audio streaming, and quizzes, etc., we probably need to conclude that because of the multiple single points of failure many students will not be able to complete their course work during the diaspora.

Is there another model of a collaborative, adaptive group that:

  • has a clear goal and can recognize (self- & peer-critique) progress toward the goal,
  • uses multiple redundant communications channels and has ways of changing communication channels to meet changing circumstances,
  • can continue to function with breakdowns in its command structure, or without one,
  • where individuals can continue to function when the group is out of communications, and
  • can recognize members of the group by some sign without a central authority providing introductions?

Does this sound like a Smart Mob? Or a terrorist cell? Or a military unit? What can we learn from those organizations and how would it apply to designing a university that would function during a pandemic?

Pandemic as teach-in

Rather than an obstacle to overcome, what if we were to say that the pandemic is itself an authentic learning opportunity for our students. Each university course could create a learning goal that tied to the pandemic, i.e., the sociology of pandemic, microeconomic impacts of pandemic, women’s history and pandemic, etc, etc.

Students would be charged with undertaking activities, individually and as collaborative groups relative to the subject and their personal situation. The course assessment would be using a pre-published rubric (such as the critical thinking rubric) and the artifact to assess would be a portfolio chronicling the student’s activity and learning during the pandemic event.

To manage the communications problem, a Web 2.0 approach needs to be designed. Tags and keywords would be agreed in advance (much like secret handshakes or signs) and these would be used to mark items on the web. Since single points of failure might cripple any single system, learners would use multiple systems, such as Wikipedia, Google Groups, Facebook groups, Blogger,, etc and create resources marked with the tags. Users would also be asked to post pointers in one system to resources in another, for example, in the Facebook group a user who found resources in would post a copy of the links found in That way, if any given system is out, or any given user offline, others have ways to work around the outage.

When the pandemic is over, instructors ask students to complete their portfolios, including copies or links to appropriate resources and a reflection on how those resources give evidence to their deeper understanding of the relationship between the course topic and pandemic. Assessment is by the rubric.

Thinking about WSU mySite marketing

September 12, 2006

So I ran across this quote

Bob Ivins, managing director of comScore Europe, said many of the websites currently seeing the fastest rates of growth are those that tap into their audience’s need for self-expression, which in turn encourages others to join the party. “It is the classic network effect at work,” he said in a statement.(Web 2.0′ sites see traffic explosion)

and it got me thinking about Network effects and Reed’s Law. The core idea is if you own a telephone and I buy one, it makes yours more valuable. (This is assuming I answer your calls.)
So is it true that if I have a mySite and you get one it makes mine more valuable?

Unlike the telephone example, my mySite does not gain value by you having a mySite. All I need to take advantage of the content in your mySite is a browser and a WSU Network ID.

A counter example is, the social bookmarking site. I save bookmarks there for selfish reasons. You save bookmarks for your reasons. I can discover that you and I save the same bookmark, hence discover you, and discover other bookmarks you save. I might learn something from this, which gives the bookmarks I save more value to me. (And it accelerates. The more I save, the more likely I am to find others saving the same thing and thus gain more value.)

A user could create a teamsite in their mySite that would gain value as users joined the site. An example would be a user group where a lively discussion and mutual help made the value of  participation grow with the number of participants. An example is Wikipedia. But what would a user do in their mySite that would gain this value that they would not do in a more public context?

WSU mySites in Daily News Story

September 12, 2006
This is a better article than the one I commented on in the Daily Evergreen. As of the publication of this article,  there were over 2500 WSU mySites and the growth of mySite creation (not to say meaningful use) was 105.8 sites/day (r-square=.99)
WSU launches new service to help students share information

By Erin Madison, Daily News staff writer
Published: 09-07-2006

Brandon Crane takes notes during his classes on his tablet personal computer. The senior studying mechanical engineering and secondary education then posts those notes to his WSU mySite.

His fellow classmates can look at his notes, whether they missed class or simply need to review.

Washington State University launched the mySite service this fall.

MySite allows students to create portfolios of work, share and collaborate on documents, post class notes, and create a profile, said Nils Peterson, assistant director for the Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology at WSU.

“It’s a really slick tool,” Crane said.

Crane is a little ahead of the curve. He works at Information Technology Services on campus and has been playing around with mySite since it was in the developmental stages.

About 2,200 students have signed on to mySite. Most of them haven’t actually done much with the site other than look around, Peterson said.

Peterson expects the new program to catch on. If one student asks another for something from class, an eventual response might be, “I have that document. It’s in mySite,” he said.

The Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology has a chart on its Web site that allows students to compare mySite to Facebook and myspace, two popular social networking sites.

MySite wasn’t designed to compete with or perform the same functions as Facebook or myspace, Peterson said.

“It’s actually not very good for social networking,” he said.

Facebook and myspace are good for showing off your social identity or what you did on Friday night, Peterson said.

“This is your academic and professional identity, as opposed to your other identity,” he said.

MySite is only viewable to people with WSU logon user names and passwords, Peterson said.

The idea of mySite stemmed from some departments around campus wanting students to create portfolios of their work, Peterson said. Some departments, such as education and architecture, already have students put together portfolios, but there has been an increased interest across campus for electronic portfolios.

“We’ve been having conversations about this initiative for at least two-and-a-half years,” said Gary Brown, director of the Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology.

Peterson and his crew looked into some different software options and decided to use Microsoft SharePoint to power WSU mySite, largely because its possible uses were broader than some other software.

“MySite is much more powerful than portfolios, but we were after portfolios,” Peterson said.

The university also requires students to submit a junior writing portfolio that includes three term papers they’ve done up to their junior year, he said.

“The simplest thing a student could do is just save their files,” he said.

Students don’t yet have a way to show a portfolio they create on mySite to anyone who doesn’t have a WSU network logon.

Peterson’s department and Information Technology Services are working on a way to either allow students to burn a portfolio to a CD or make it possible for them to allow select people access to their mySite page.

Students should have a way to share their portfolios by next fall, said Debby Lawson, director of ITS operations and system services.

Lawson is also working on adding instant messaging and calendaring to mySite.

Mark Zocher, a student who works as the ITS Help Desk coordinator, has been trying to think of how he wants to apply mySite’s portfolio capabilities to his work.

“It’s a new thing that people don’t really know what to do with,” the junior in management information systems said.

Zocher has had a lot of students ask him what mySite is, but he doesn’t know a lot of people outside his coworkers who have started using it.

He thinks it will catch on as students see what they can do with it. It will just take a little time, he said.

Erin Madison can be reached at (509) 334-6397, ext. 310, or by e-mail at

mySite status – Evergreen Article notes

September 1, 2006

The 100 users per day rate of new site creation continues. We’ll see what comes from the Daily Evergreen article’s publication.

8/21 642
8/22 804
8/23 894
8/24 1042
8/25 1143
8/26 1261
8/27 1282
8/28 1312
8/29 1429
8/30 1573
8/31 1755

Frankly, the article stinks. It was poorly researched, and the reported did not use much of what I know him to have been given to develop an image of the system. To start with the opening line – to draw a parallel with the Facebook/MySpace ‘Internet craze’ is to have not given much of any reflection to the offering. The author does not appear to have given any thought to the comparison of Facebook, MySpace and mySite provided in the mySite help. And, from the nature of several student quotes, it seems obvious that this same simplified pre-supposition was used in conversations with other sources.

Ricky Solitaire who is quoted describing the system as for “leisure” has a site but has not done anything publicwith it (as of this writing). Neither Solitarie or Brenton Poirier also quoted have even finished setting up their site’s color theme (let alone swithching to a different there).

Matt Kushin, also quoted, has uploaded his (MA?) thesis and is suggesting that he is new to WSU and looking to meet students who share his research interests.

Not reported was any interview with students who have started posting notes they are taking in lecture in an attempt begin collaborative study with their classmates. An interesting problem these students faced was how to advertise their efforts to classmates. One chose to use Facebook to announce the link to their WSU mySite.

mySite status – users with more than 1MB space used

August 29, 2006

While the number of mySite owners continues to grow,

8/21 642
8/22 804
8/23 894
8/24 1042
8/25 1143
8/26 1261
8/27 1282
8/28 1312
8/29 1429

utilization of the system is still light. Today, I got a list of the 23 users who have more than 1 MB of storage used in their WSU mySite. There are several with high usages, and while the most (9) are between 2 and 3 MB.
Exploration of the list turned up Nathan Daniel Opsal‘s Home (WSU Login required) where he is sharing photos of his interests, in the MyPhotos. One of the students mentioned previously shows up as a high disk utilizer, which makes sense because he has put in audio recordings of class in addition to lecture notes.

Further Notes for creating a mySite ePortfolio

August 28, 2006

In this post I started making some notes on the process of creating a visually rich electronic portfolio using SharePoint mySite and a CTLT developed template called “Poster.”

I previously noted a series of discoveries and logistical hassles getting all my images collected into one place, and sized correctly.  Today I finished a draft of the portfolio by writing the narrative in the center column and adding the images along the left and right. As I wrote I found that I wanted to add some other images, so I explored imbedding them into the text aligning the text left or right around them.

This was not totally satisfactory, neither the visual result or the process of placing the images. A problem with placing the images is that the width of the editor, and hence the word wrap around the images was different than the final presentation.

While I was able to get the bulk of the project finished using a Macintosh OS X, and Firefox 1.5, composing the text for the center column onscreen was a problem. If the column were to contain only text, it would not be too hard to write in another tool and paste in, but I was also imbedding images. Finally, I resorted to moving to Windows/IE to use the WYSIWYG editor.

The switching platforms was annoying, but not too big a problem, because I was able to move my draft text from platform to platform by simply including it in the web part from one platform and then editing from the other.

At this writing, I have not  moved the large format versions of the images to the portfolio. My intention is to include the large formats, and with those, to include the metadata that the document library requests.

mySite status – first use for class notes

August 28, 2006

There are two reports of student created mySite for class notes (Each site below requires WSU Network ID to login):

Brandon Crane (Home – MSE 401 fall 06) started using OneNote (and its audio recording) to take notes in his class. He is exploring making the site visible to students in the class (and more widely as an example).

Mark Zocher (Home – MgtOp215) is hoping to use discussions to share class notes and other discussion.
The mySite creation numbers continue to rise

8/21 642
8/22 804
8/23 894
8/24 1042
8/25 1143
8/26 1261
8/27 1282
8/28 1312
For the first 1008 users in the system, here are the demographics:

By employment status

Classified 20
Exempt 42
Faculty 21
Graduate 60
Hourly Staff 84
Undergraduate 174
Undefined 607

By class standing

Freshman 250
Sophomore 160
Junior 211
Senior 219
Graduate Student 98
Other 70

Several users have started to create portfolios, but only my demonstration timber frame portfolio appears to have any content.