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Thursday, 27 August 2009

Cloud Computing for all?

'Cloud Computing' image from Dreamstime.comJust a brief post in response to one from Tony Bates. He makes reference to a recent EDUCAUSE 2-page document entitled '7 things you should know about Cloud Computing' which is a well balanced paper and well worth reading.

As the abstract says:
Cloud computing is the delivery of scalable IT resources over the Internet, as opposed to hosting and operating those resources locally, such as on a college or university network. Those resources can include applications and services, as well as the infrastructure on which they operate. By deploying IT infrastructure and services over the network, an organization can purchase these resources on an as-needed basis and avoid the capital costs of software and hardware. With cloud computing, IT capacity can be adjusted quickly and easily to accommodate changes in demand. Cloud computing also allows IT providers to make IT costs transparent and thus match consumption of IT services to those who pay for such services. Operating in a cloud environment requires IT leaders and staff to develop different skills, such as managing contracts, overseeing integration between in-house and outsourced services, and mastering a different model of IT budgets.

However, before teachers all jump on the bandwaggon of 'free resources', as I have hinted at before, two things need to be considered which the author, P. Kurkowski, forgets to mention. Firstly, younger pupils, the less able, some disabled students and the elderly may require systems that are much more e-safe than the responsible average HE student may require. Secondly, Cloud Computing lends itself very much to the ideosyncratic choices of applications that teachers may never have experienced. The provision of support for an unknown number of different applications would become a nightmare if no forms of control were established. - But who would advise students to invest in a product that has no guaranteed future or who may be hooked into a system that suddenly starts charging for its services?

For a most erudite and lengthy exposition on cloud computing see Stephen Downes' article. He starts from the basis:

In the cloud of connections, we each become social neurons, mimicking the biological human brain but on a giant scale. This collective knowledge is far beyond anything a single search engine could index and archive. Intelligence is spreading everywhere, every minute, and cloud computing can draw new links across new ideas.

However, for an even more challenging read, see the site: Day 81: Ars Electronica Symposium Examines Cloud Intelligence one extract must suffice:
Jules Verne published his novel at the dawn of industrialised globalisation, when the steam engine and the colonial conquests of Europe made it possible for the first time to circumnavigate the planet in relative comfort, and in less than three months. In the 125 years since, the pace of globalisation has accelerated exponentially. Our cars, clothes, computers, and cupboards all depend on vast international networks of manufacturing, finance, and trade. This flood of globalisation has carried the economic and environmental crises to almost every corner of the world. Are these crises an inevitable part of human nature? Or is it possible to shape a new connected consciousness to tackle global problems collectively and equitably?

Welcome to the
cloud. Welcome to new the social ecology of the 21st century. Welcome to mobile banking from a New York taxi cab direct to rural Kenya. Welcome to the wild wondrous web of blogs, podcasts, mailing lists and streaming video from camera phones the size of credit cards. All instant and all the time. The world has changed. We have changed.

But, I would ask, has 'Education'?

Monday, 24 August 2009

Are we Limiting their Learning?

Photo:  ‘Student in class, by foundphotosljReflecting upon some work I did two years ago, I came across the above challenging graphic. So often teachers teach in the same way that they learnt. As much as we expect our students to 'think outside of the box' so often we fail them by not doing it ourselves.

It reminds me to re-think the early ideas I obtained from Dr Helen Barrett's work on Metaphors. I respectfully list an abridged version of her collated list. For the full versions including the distinguished sources see her website at:

I therefore show this list in order to encourage readers to re-think how we can apply these concepts to the daily teaching and learning we try to encourage each day. Please enjoy:

28 Metaphors - What is an e-Portfolio?
Some years ago I discovered the work of Dr Helen Barrett and soon became enthralled with the enormous amount of work that she has done in relation to portfolios in over two decades and how it has shaped world thinking on the subject.

Rather than getting bogged down with the technicalities of security or ‘cloud computing’, rather than getting into the very personal ideas on teaching and learning, or discussing if the e-Portfolio can really be ‘Lifelong’ and ‘Lifewide’, it is worth just stopping to consider what various authorities have said concerning e-Portfolios. Helen Barrett presents a challenging list of thought-provoking metaphors from a variety of sources which I have cobbled together and in some places summarised slightly.

I suggest that it is well worth considering how all of these metaphors reveal something of the applicability of the e-Portfolio as a tool to aid teaching and learning and in particular PLTSs.

A Mirror
The mirror is a more obvious metaphor...fairly literally to ask the question how can the portfolio assist one to see oneself? (Dr. Mary Diez)

A Map
...the map image is linked to the mirror--focusing on what you see can spark the question about where you want to go next. (Dr. Mary Diez) (and, for that matter where you have come from and how far you have travelled. - RT)

A Sonnet
The portfolio, like the sonnet, is simply a form, a structure. Provided one puts quality work between the covers, the portfolio can be a structure to help an individual express meaning. (Dr. Mary Diez)

A Theoretical Act
...a portfolio is a theoretical act. By this I mean that every time you design, organize, or create in your teacher education program a template, a framework, or a model for a teaching portfolio, you are engaged in an act of theory. (Dr. Lee Shulman)

A Story
A portfolio tells a story. It is the story of knowing. Knowing about things... Knowing oneself... Knowing an audience... Portfolios are students' own stories of what they know, why they believe they know it, and why others should be of the same opinion. A portfolio is opinion backed by fact... Students prove what they know with samples of their work. (Pearl & Leon Paulson)

A Journey
... we suggest that students view their portfolios as a journey into knowing and that they write a narrative describing that journey. Our goal is to help students tell their story, a story that has a happy ending. (Pearl & Leon Paulson)

A Laboratory
The portfolio is a laboratory where students construct meaning from their accumulated experience. (Pearl & Leon Paulson)

A Test
.... portfolios that are composed of written reflections (a form of an essay) and products representative of the candidate’s skills, and performance, fall under a professionally acceptable definition of “test”. (Dr. Judy Wilkerson & Dr. Steve Lang's "High Stakes" Portfolios)

A Celebration of Learning Across the Lifespan
An electronic portfolio has the potential to become a dynamic celebration of learning that documents one’s professional development across his or her career. (Dr. Helen Barrett)

A Comparison with Financial Portfolios
A financial portfolio documents the accumulation of fiscal capital or monetary assets. A learning portfolio documents the development of human capital or intellectual assets. (Dr. Helen Barrett)

My Attic

... referred to my website as an "attic" with a lot of history/artefacts of my journey... Of course an e-portfolio is more than a collection of artefacts, but this metaphor evokes fond memories of grandparents' houses and the rich memories that are represented in the artefacts stored there. (Dr. Helen Barrett)

Campfires around which we tell our stories
"Technology is the campfire around which we tell our stories," says musician and performance artist Laurie Anderson. If that be so, what tales will be shared in the flickering glow of peoples' electronic portfolios? (Dr. Joanne Carney)

My digital clone
A digital representation / extension of my self – my eSelf. (Serge Ravet)

My work companion
A tool blended into my learning / working environment. (Serge Ravet)

My butler
A service provider to one’s self. (Serge Ravet)

My dashboard
An informative display of the state of my skills and knowledge. (Serge Ravet)

My planner
A tool to plan my learning. (Serge Ravet)

My IPR management assistant
A tool to value and exploit my personal assets. (Serge Ravet)

Others from various sources (see list):

A Teenager’s Bedroom
It's their teenage bedroom, we own the house and we can say there are key things that need to be in there, but we can only stand back and watch as they decorate it in a manner that they find wonderful, and we may find hideous.

A Toothbrush
A habit of mind, something you do every day.

My tree
My electronic portfolio is my tree. In building a portfolio I see a tree of many branches with each branch being an extension from the trunk which begins with ones self and goals. As we grow, our branches grow and spread out in many directions.

A Caterpillar (or Acorn or Seed)
An emerging form... undergoing metamorphosis through personal growth... from a caterpillar to a butterfly; from an acorn to a tree; from a seed to a flower or plant

A Kaleidoscope
Just as a kaleidoscope needs light to view the endless possibilities of visual combinations of the coloured glass, a e-portfolio provides the illumination for the learner to view the endless possibilities of the potential views and connections of her/his learning experience from self to global society.

A Window
I like idea of the window working two ways (ignoring police stations, of course). Not only can others look inside but portfolios, like windows offer the chance for the portfolio author to look outside as well. In the portfolio process, reflecting and conferencing help the portfolio author accomplish this external gaze. But secondly, the owner can choose which windows people may look through by closing the blinds when necessary.

A Confessional
A place where the student can quietly and privately recount acts of commission and omission and confess such to a selected audience. It is a place of catharsis and refreshment. Upon leaving this sanctuary the student is inspired to new levels of enlightenment and endeavour. (Ray Tolley)

A Constant Companion
People often work best at the strangest of times or places. We are not all constructed like robots to think only between the hours of 9 to 5 at our office desk. The e-Portfolio is a companion or familiar friend to whom we can turn at any hour of the day or night, anywhere, anywhen. (Ray Tolley)

A Digital Theatre
It is my digital theatre - where the audience is by invitation only. (Ray Tolley)

A Festival
A family time such as Christmas or Thanksgiving when we come together, celebrate the good things in life and invariably reflect on past occasions. (Ray Tolley)

NB. For all the original sources, please see Dr Barrett's site at:

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Economies of Scale?

Image of man chasing after software disc from MS ClipArtCongratulations are in order to the NZ Ministry of Education for their brave decision to provide an impressive Software Agreement for the next three years. Click to see announcement.

Cynics may suggest that in providing something 'for free' it creates a lock-in which is hard to resist. Of course, as the statement says, "Schools will still be free to use any product they wish to. A number of schools are using open source software or browser based alternatives and they will continue to have this choice." But, as the graphic attempts to illustrate, 'Who wouldn't chase after free software?'

The whole point for e-Portfolio watchers, as I referred to before, see post - 'A Common Approach?, is that I am impressed with Local Authorities, Districts, States or even whole countries that see the benefits of the economies of scale and are willing to take up the challenge.

Again, some will be aware of the far-sighted vision of those in Minnesota who established a State-wide free e-Portfolio facility for all residents. This has proved without doubt that, without the 'holy grail' of perfect interoperability, eFolio is the best solution for portability or transition that anyone has thought possible.

In the UK, despite all our impressive programmes for 'Home Access' and a 'Digital Britain' the Government's present approach to e-Portfolios is particularly tardy. Yes, individual schools are developing their own in-house e-Portfolios and we have some good work going on in the careers service, 'Connexions'. However, what with 35 or so VLE suppliers offering various attempts at e-Portfolio solutions and a few commercial free-standing systems, it would appear that 'everybody does that which is right in their own eyes.'

The point of this post, therefore, is to ask if UK readers in particular agree with my proposition that whole-school or Local Authority-wide provisions of an e-Portfolio system such as eFolio, which is both Lifelong and Lifewide, is the logical solution. Economy of scale is essential at the present time. I just wonder when our mandarins will wake up to this fact!

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Online Learning

Photo: 'On-line learning' from Dreamstime.comA recently produced research document makes encouraging reading- even if a lot of the interesting bits are embedded within masses of statistics and tables. However, although this document is about online learning we can extend its conclusions to the additional functionality that an e-Portfolio can provide. As the document is online and available for all to see I trust that the extracts as listed below make a fair basis for further discussion.

US Department of Education
Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning
May 2009

Extracts from the Executive Summary:
Online learning—for students and for teachers—is one of the fastest growing trends in educational uses of technology. The National Center for Education Statistics (2008) estimated that the number of K-12 public school students enrolling in a technology-based distance education course grew by 65 percent in the two years from 2002-03 to 2004-05. On the basis of a more recent district survey, Picciano and Seaman (2009) estimated that more than a million K–12 students took online courses in school year 2007–08.

These activities were undertaken to address four research questions:

  1. How does the effectiveness of online learning compare with that of face-to-face instruction?
  2. Does supplementing face-to-face instruction with online instruction enhance learning?
  3. What practices are associated with more effective online learning?
  4. What conditions influence the effectiveness of online learning?

Worth noting:
When a α < .05 level of significance is used for contrasts, one would expect approximately 1 in 20 contrasts to show a significant difference by chance. For 51 contrasts, then, one would expect 2 or 3 significant differences by chance. The finding of 2 significant contrasts associated with face-to-face instruction is clearly within the range one would expect by chance; the 11contrasts associated with online or hybrid instruction exceeds what one would expect by chance.

Key Findings:
The main finding from the literature review was that:

  • Few rigorous research studies of the effectiveness of online learning for K–12 students have been published.
  • Students who took all or part of their class online performed better, on average, than those taking the same course through traditional face-to-face instruction.
  • Instruction combining online and face-to-face elements had a larger advantage relative to purely face-to-face instruction than did purely online instruction.
  • Studies in which learners in the online condition spent more time on task than students in the face-to-face condition found a greater benefit for online learning.
  • Most of the variations in the way in which different studies implemented online learning did not affect student learning outcomes significantly.
  • The effectiveness of online learning approaches appears quite broad across different content and learner types.
  • Effect sizes were larger for studies in which the online and face-to-face conditions varied in terms of curriculum materials and aspects of instructional approach in addition to the medium of instruction.
  • Blended and purely online learning conditions implemented within a single study generally result in similar student learning outcomes.
  • Elements such as video or online quizzes do not appear to influence the amount that students learn in online classes.
  • Online learning can be enhanced by giving learners control of their interactions with media and prompting learner reflection.
  • Providing guidance for learning for groups of students appears less successful than does using such mechanisms with individual learners.

Extract from the Conclusions:
In many of the studies showing an advantage for online learning, the online and classroom conditions differed in terms of time spent, curriculum and pedagogy. It was the combination of elements in the treatment conditions (which was likely to have included additional learning time and materials as well as additional opportunities for collaboration) that produced the observed learning advantages. At the same time, one should note that online learning is much more conducive to the expansion of learning time than is face-to-face instruction.

Personal Observation:
Although there are some remarkable facilities available to some students in the US, I wonder just how many children in 'average' schools in the US have the same computer ratios as in the UK or more importantly what % of the US population uses 'Home Access' as we are beginning to understand it here in the UK.

I say this because I am not sure how well we can compare 'like-with-like' across different countries. Until the UK can get down to producing similar research for our 'K-12' cohort we will not be able to begin to ascertain the added advantages of e-Portfolios.

There are still many 'loopholes' in the paper that I am still trying to clarify with the American authors. For instance, were their 'online learning courses' freestanding tools with no f2f support? And then, what does f2f mean? Individual 1:1 tuition or one lecturer in front of 200 students? Did the online courses allow collaboration? Did they allow individual investigation or project work? Was the students' work machine-marked or was it assessed by a real person? Why, in some cases did online retention rates drop - was this just bad teaching or was it online technical frustrations?

For me, the document, despite all its academic excellence, raises a number of issues which need to be discussed with those who are aware of the contexts.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Moving House?

There comes a time in most people's lives when they have to move house and take all their loved possessions with them - and what an upheaval that can be! Unfortunately some people have a perception of the e-Portfolio as being that 'removal van' or 'pantechnicon' - which is used to transport every bit and piece of value or even no-value - just sentimental rubbish that one cannot throw away. However, the analogy gets worse! The learner decides that rather than unloading all their stuff, every bit of coursework, every idle amusement, every item of correspondence shall all be kept on board - because, after all, they are not stopping here but plan to move on again. And the effort of unloading and loading up again is just too much bother.

Others prefer to travel light, only carrying with them the immediate essential tools and equipment currently used in their studies. They have a more scatter-brained approach to learning - leaving a never-ending trail of artefacts scattered, on their academic travels, around the universe - sometimes called 'cloud computing'. The trouble with this approach, as any parent knows, is that things get far too easily misplaced or even lost for ever. For those who haven't read my previous jottings on 'transition' the potential amount of travelling the learner could experience is illustrated here.

As one gets older and possibly not much wiser there is the temptation to carry around even more clutter, 'just in case'. However, as we make our way to yet another presentation or job interview we begin to understand the need to cut our 'showcase' down to the bare minimum with which our audience can cope. And this is so true of our e-Portfolios. eFolio, in particular, is capable of displaying only what we want to show, uncluttered by ephemera or irrelevancies.

I have seen far too many blogs containing discussions about how much space on a school's servers their e-Portfolios should take. Similarly, there are debates about how long students' artefacts should remain on the school's servers once the students have left. Surely, these are all irrelevancies when considering the fundamental purposes of an e-Portfolio? It all comes down to an understanding of one of my several mantras:
"Let the VLE do what it does best and
leave the e-Portfolio to do what it can best do!"

This approach leaves all coursework, past and present, on the VLE's server alongside the specialist programs, assignment briefs, schemes of work, assessment tools, on-line reporting and all the other mechanics needed to run an effective 'electrified' school. How long these 'school owned' artefacts are kept is down to the institution's Policies.

The e-Portfolio, on the other hand, should be seen as belonging to the learner and need only contain those artefacts and tools that the student considers needful in their present circumstances. - Anything that rightfully belongs to the learner and is no longer immediately needed can be off-loaded to one's own PC or Tb backup for safe keeping.

Again, the e-Portfolio should be seen as a flexible and adaptable system. As much as any young adult may change friends or experience the coming and going of different teachers, the e-Portfolio should be flexible enough to adapt to the differing audiences who are permitted to share in the learner's activities. As children steadily mature into adulthood, so too, their affections and loyalties will change and their e-Portfolios should be capable of reflecting that change. It is not so much the opportunity to publicise one's avowed following of a film star, pop-group or football team so much as the fact that the e-Portfolio is capable of reflecting something of one's deeper self image.

The choice of media is so very important. Certainly we should avoid those e-Portfolio systems that are so heavily document-based as to provoke the audience to shout out, "I cannot understand what you are saying for the mass of words you write." The colour schemes, choice of fonts or avatars and the selection of recorded interviews, video-clips or SlideShares one may include will no doubt say more about a person than the text they write.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Adult Edn & e-Portfolios

I've just come across a most impressive set of handouts relating to Adult Learning in Australia. The blog and associated links by ALA give a very clear and up-to-date picture of many of the aspects of an e-Portfolio and is well worth reading through carefully.

The 'Concept Guides' are the recent outcome of a report completed in August 2008, 'The Australian ePortfolio Project'. The encouraging thing, for me, is that two of the members represented on the Australian board are from the UK: Rob Ward, Director of the Centre for Recording Achievement, UK, and Associate Professor Angela Smallwood, Director International Centre for ePortfolio Research, UK . The leaflets also refer to JISC materials elsewhere referenced in their research. Support for the original work was provided by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council, an initiative of the Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.

Also see the AFLF e-Portfolios blog

However, yet again, the emphasis appears to be just on Higher Education, I quote, "The overarching aim of the research project, which was given the working title of the Australian ePortfolio Project, was to examine the current levels of ePortfolio practice in Australian higher education. " This has been my complaint all along with the UK Higher Ed scenario. There the traditional teaching and learning styles are generally still the de facto delivery system of 'I teach, you learn'. We really need to understand how e-Portfolios can dramatically enhance, if not actually revolutionise, teaching and learning in HE. It's beginning to happen in our Primary and Secondary schools - so why not in HE?

Another concern raised by these documents is that of defining 'adult'. The very attractive 'Concept Guides' portray near-teenage students and young executives. But what of those who might be called 'Middle Aged' or even the 'Grey Brigade'. As one belonging to the latter group I just wonder if those who dwell in the luxury of academia are actually thinking of 'real' adults when discussing e-Portfolio implementations. The real world is full of those who are fearing the next job-cut, the less able, those recently made redundant, the long-term unemployed, those frustratedly seeking alternative employment or actually trying to better themselves.

However, offsetting the above criticisms, there is also another Australian report well worth reading 'E-portfolios beyond education and training' As Jen Miller reports, 'the report provides case studies of a number of international examples of the use of e-portfolios to assist people in the workforce and in career development. It makes recommendations that include enhancing current national infrastructure to enable Australians to use an e-portfolio to enhance career development, lifelong learning, and workforce participation.' Well - this looks better, but it is still primarily research - what we now need to do is translate aspiration into inspiration!

Some nice examples and quotations referring to the work of eFolio in Minnesota - Next year, let's hope that they can include the all-age approach of the work of eFolio in the UK!

Monday, 10 August 2009

Social Sites & e-Portfolios

Most schools now have a good 'Acceptable Use Policy' (or AUP)concerning the use of VLEs and e-mail etiquette etc. Many of us have had these policies in place for years!

But for many, the thought of laying down guidance concerning social networking appears to have come a bit late - most kids are already doing it!

It therefore came as a pleasant discovery to me, to see someone actually taking the trouble to think things through and to share her thoughts, in true collaborative spirit, requesting responses from her readers. Jen Hegna's article can be seen in full in Doug Johnson's blog.

My only concern, as I commented, is that I would like to see some more positive suggestions and less of the negativity if young people are to accept these guidelines in schools.

As far as eFolio is concerned we have a strong view of e-safety (we call it 'the sanctity of eFolio security') and thus an internal mailing system, feedback, polls etc can all be safely managed within the privacy that eFolio affords.

So, let's see more suggestions about the positive outcomes of social connections within any e-Portfolio, including eFolio!

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Getting started with eFolio

I was recently going through the eFolio on-line support materials and the thought suddenly came to me, "Wow! isn't this easy!"

What I was thinking, of course, is how the new beginner in e-Portfolio thinking comes to terms with this possibly strange environment. But then, I thought to myself, "Why is it that other systems have to be so darn difficult?"

Take, for instance the whole issue of interoperability. This can be an absolute minefield for anyone - the top brains in this subject are still only getting part-way there, so what chance us mere mortals? The 'brains' at eFolioWorld and Avenet have put together the best set of templates for exporting data in IMS format - and as a user one wouldn't know that anything special was happening.

Where data needs to be exported in the IMS format everything that the learner has placed in the pre-formed templates is there in place and ready to process without any effort to collate or reorganise data sets at all!

But more generally, as one browses over the various help-sheets the reader soon discovers that the icons and layout are logical and with intuitively interactive help always available.

So, the question that I ask myself is, 'Why, if this is so easy in eFolio, do people want to go into the complexities of managing less-secure and cloud-based systems where artefacts cannot always be safely managed or withdrawn?

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Ethics or Common Sense?

I recently came across a very sensible question on a NZ forum which needs a response. The original question I quote:

May I start a new discussion on the ethics of digital media and how we deal with it currently in our schools?
What are some of your guidelines on student-teacher confidentiality and rights in your school handbooks?
I am concerned on the behalf of students who have 100's of photo's from school camps, balls and sports days placed on a shared network drive for the whole school to access, or even worse, on a webpage.
Has the permission of the students or the caregivers of these students been sought for this exposure and is it any different to displaying the pictures on the school notice board?
Another ethical issue that concerns me about Eportfolios is the hosting and integrity of the host sites on the cloud, for example, there are rumours that Facebook is
selling your public profile pictures to advertisers to use without your expressed permission.
Could this happen to other information on the cloud? I suggest not, if it was hosted by the MOE.
What other ethical views are there on this?
* Video Evidence
* Photo Storage
* Blogs - Access levels
* Cloud Data integrity

One answer came back fairly promptly:

It's all very well suggesting that people should store their data in the cloud, but when you do this you partially lose control over them, in ways that aren't necessarily in your interest.

For example, data stored in a foreign country is subject to the data protection laws of that country. I'm pretty sure the NZ government doesn't allow its data to be stored overseas for this reason.

Also, you can't just count on the good will of these "cloud services" to keep on running - or even working in your interest. For example, Facebook has absolutely
no incentive to help you extract your data from it - "why would we let you do that, are you thinking of leaving Facebook?" This even applies to the Google's of this world. At the end of the day, they exist to make money - not store your data for you forever.

To me, it would make sense if a user's portfolio data was stored somewhere that at least has a partial interest in it staying around.

The answers make good sense but, as far as I am concerned, there are four very simple answers to all of this:

  1. An e-Portfolio is not very different to any other website or school intranet or VLE. There are usually clearly stated policies about the disclosure of personal data - in particular that photographs should not identify named individuals. Children should be encouraged to use avatars or pseudonyms on any public pages of their e-Portfolio. However, in encouraging children to feel that they 'own' their e-Portfolio they need to be more aware of these issues, or of revealing private family matters. Teachers, parents and carers need therefore to help their charges in these responsibilities.

  2. We do not know how information about us might be used in the future. The skills of target advertising, for instance, are not going to get blunted. In years to come it might be quite possible for an automated process to access an old photograph placed on a repository to identify that we are an animal lover for instance. My simple solution is not to risk the placing of anything of a personal nature in the hands of unknown or unvetted 'guardians'.

  3. The functionality of an e-Portfolio can get seriously confusing if different artefacts are stored in a variety of different repositories. Grown intelligent adults might be able to manage a whole set of artefacts 'scattered around the universe' - but this is not the case for most of our children in schools, the slow learner, the elderly or even those who just don't want the hassle of keeping a log of where everything is. The solution, keep everything to be used in the e-Portfolio in one place where links can easily be established and where the same artefacts can be used possibly several times for different purposes.

  4. Having said keep everything together - that is with one reservation. The e-Portfolio is not a substitute for a VLE - or even one's own PC. The e-Portfolio is not a pantechnicon to move around every single jotting, practice exercise or classroom test. From one's PLE, VLE workspace or laptop items which are of some significance can be copied to the e-Portfolio for specific e-Portfolio purposes. So again, use the e-Portfolio for the purposes for which it is intended - and not as a general dumping ground.

So, at whatever age or ability, I would just suggest use a bit of common sense!

Post Script:

For those wanting to further consider the ethics of ICT and in particular relation to e-Portfolios, I thoroughly commend Simon Grant's book, "Electronic Portfolios: Personal information, personal development and personal values".