Sunday, June 24, 2012

ISTE Daily: Day One - Student Portfolios

Conference on the Bay
The ISTE Daily blogs will be less of my usual attempts to find meaning in the chaos that is #edtech and more of a recounting of some of the things heard, said, and thought during the ISTE Conference going on this week. Limited perspective, but hopefully enough of these will be around that people without the opportunity to attend (or attending other things) will find some professional development opportunities.

The official Keynotes and Kickoffs are tomorrow, so I decided to spend the day in a workshop presented by Dr. Helen Barrett (@eportfolios) titled "Student Centered Interactive E-portfolios with Google Apps". I am seriously leaning toward a portfolio model for the #digcit class at Brebeuf Jesuit and wanted to get another perspective on implementation. I am not sure if that is what I got, but it was a useful day and a good way to start the conference.

The presentation itself had tremendous content (you can in fact get an entire course worth of information here: and did a great job of focusing on the student-outcomes expected, but it suffered from a growing trend in conference professional development: splitting-the-difference between pedagogy and the technical. In a room filled with educators (k-college), technicians, and everything in-between, it became very difficult for her to maintain a storyline for the presentation even over the course of day-long workshop.

There were some great highlights though:

The POV of the Portfolio: Student vs School
  • A six step process on e-portfolios that begins with the VISION STATEMENT. Given the types of portfolios and the numerous tools out there (even within the GoogleApp world there are choices), it is important to know what you want out of the portfolio
  • In describing professional development, she made an excellent division between the pedagogical training necessary and the technical training which is necessary but can be broader, changes regularly, and may become less important as the BYOT/D mindset begins to take hold and students, at least in secondary, become more responsible for tech-maintenance. Focusing on the pedagogical objective is of course one of the mantras on this blog and I was happy to be the choir preached to.
  • After over 20 years in ePortfolio design, Dr. Barrett had some amazing anecdotes and visuals. Her contrast between the student who offered a reward for her lost portfolio vs. the students who held traditional year-end bonfire to burn their collections really drove home the idea that the portfolio is a tool that is only as good as the care, effort, and purpose behind it -- what is daunting is that much of that foundation is laid by the teacher.
  • Favorite Line: "Portfolios come out of the constructivist tradition; Standardized testing draws from a behavioral model." -- had never thought of it like that, but it does put the entire assessment thing in perspective. :)
There was a mixed audience, and while the planned opportunities for interaction were minimal outside of the initial icebreaker, there were those classic conference moments where the presenter took the step back and let the discussion flow. I even got into the mix a few times, dispelling the myths of the complicated back-end of the Apps-for-Education environment and a little bit of BYOT-evangelizing. It is always a great time to hear from educators as they work through the struggles of education together.

The upshot of the presentation became this: it really is all about student empowerment. the power to choose, the power to explain, the power to share, and the power to feedback. In this light, I offer my following vision statement to kick off my project:

Students will implement portfolios to capture the highlights of their experiences in the Digital Citizenship class.  They will capture artifacts of their progress and use this collection as the basis for reflection on what they have experienced and what they think of those experiences as a learner, a digital citizen, and a member of a digital community. They will give and receive feedback from peers, the instructor, and others as they move through the course and curate their work. Through this process of curation, reflection, and feedback, they will practice some of the skills to be developed in the course.

ISTE Tip 1: 
If I had been to ISTE in awhile or had been paying more attention, it is likely that I would have participated in the #socialedcon that took place on Saturday. There are a number of my twitter PLN members who attended at shared through the social networks, the "unconference" format generated a lot of ideas and sharing, and the app/tool smackdown sounded great. a must for next year. 

ISTE Tip 2:
Get tweetdeck or another app that allows you to track conversations (or use Follow the official hashtag (this year is #iste12). The conversations, highlights from other places at the conference, and resources are invaluable. Spent my downtime pearling the links from this thread.

ISTE Tip 3:
Grab a QR Code with your information. BUMP works great when the person has it (and I am still a huge fan of the app). But if you are looking to avoid (or forgot - oops) the traditional business cards, QR codes are a quick way to exchange information. UPDATE: just read on my google reader that Facebook may be making a play on the quick contact front: browse to (stands for "Find Friends Nearby")

During your downtime in San Diego:
Last night, my wife and I went to go see MIXTAPE, a musical review of 80s music. If you are a child of the 80s, this is a guilty-pleasure good time. You don't necessarily want to have the goofy grin on your face, but when they start the cartoon retrospective mashup, you're hooked.

What's Next:
Kickoff and Keynotes start Sunday afternoon. Conference proper on Monday. Looks like I will be spending some time Monday between 10-11 and 12-2 hanging out in the SIGms (media specialists) playground chatting about ebooks,

Tips? Thoughts? Things to share? Post comments below or tweet me.