My friend Jamin Lietze wrote a very interesting post back in May. I have a very high regard for the work that he has put into developing e-Portfolio understanding for Primary schools in NewZealand. However, he raised an issue that I first came across in the work of John Pallister (some 4 years ago) in the UK and his work for MOSEP.
At that time John Pallister was running his 'eME' portfolio system 'in house' and, just like Jamin, used the student's e-Portfolio as the medium for discussion at short school-based 'Parent-Teacher Interviews'. The children would show their parents examples of work showcased from their VLE-based 'eME' system, parents would "Ooo!" and "Ahh!" at the right places and generally would see work that they had not seen before or did not even know about.
Obviously, as long as the majority of parents do not have on-line access to their child's VLE this 'shock-of-the-unknown' will continue in the same way as parent-teacher meetings did long before computers arrived in schools. But this brings out a valuable point. As more and more schools are opening up their VLEs for home access so the shock of the unknown or misunderstood should soon disappear. The regular sharing of learning experiences by children with their parents, mentors and peers will encourage both face-to-face and on-line feedback which will make the traditional parent-teacher meeting obsolete. Instead, one would hope that the 3-Way meeting will become a time of social pleasantries, celebration and constructive discussions where all are better informed. - Even cups of tea and cucumber sandwiches to talk over! (Never like that in my day!)
Perhaps the traditional 'Parents Evening' might even become a thing of the past?