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Thursday, 31 March 2011

ePortfolios Australia Conference 2011

Logo of the ePortfolios Australia Conference 2011 The ePortfolios Australia Conference 2011, being held on 17-18 October in Perth, is calling for presentation proposals based on the theme Making a difference – showing the difference.

The event will provide a showcase of how e-portfolios are making a difference to adult learners from the vocational education and training, higher education and adult and community education sectors. Representatives from all education sectors are being invited to submit abstracts for full papers, case studies and posters. Abstract submissions close 18 April 2011 and should relate to one or more of the following sub-themes:

Assessment: looking at challenges, learning principles, mapping and RPL (recognition of prior learning)

Pathways and participation: looking at entry requirements, foundation courses, pre-vocational education, retention and transition.

Evidencing standards and quality assurance: looking at the Australian Quality Training Framework (AQTF), quality standards and graduate attributes.

Workforce development and graduate employability: looking at work integrated learning, continuing professional development, performance management, LLN (language, literacy and numeracy) and accreditation.

International engagement: looking at language courses, recognition, standards, migration and exchange programs and learning experiences.

The ‘Cloud’ Dilemma

Image: 'Descending Clouds' by Garry Hayes at FlickrQuoting from their post:
Ahead of their province wide conference on Privacy and Cloud-Based Educational Technology happening on April 4th, BCcampus has released a background white paper on Privacy and Cloud-Based Educational Technology in British Columbia (PDF).

This is potentially a very interesting debate on issues arising all around the world - and needs to be followed by anyone interested in ePortfolios.

Yet again for me it raises the issue of 'siloed thinking'. Yes, HE may have a majority of bright autonomous and responsible students who do not need the additional burdens of 'Privacy'. However, HE must remember that they are only a small fraction of the total pupulation of the universe! I would hate to think that HE, as the researchers and publishers of received wisdom, should presume to advise the whole planet how the rest of the world should behave.

There are several groups of learners such as the vast majority of younger children, the less able, the less-than responsible, the elderly etc who need varying levels of privacy which may be adjusted as their IT maturity develops.

So, yes, I say. Good luck with the debate and I hope that amicable solutions may be found for those institutions that can manage a more flexible working environment.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Calling all Teachers

Photo: Two young teachers, keen and eager.If your kids have any involvement with ePortfolios, read on...

Join us at ePIC 2011, the 9th International ePortfolio and Identity Conference 11-13 July 2011, London

The conference is slowly taking shape: as usual, authors wait for the last minute to submit and many know that the deadline will be extended... However, it's you we need!

In other parts of the world, particularly the USA and NZ, many youngsters in Primary and Secondary schools are celebrating their successes through the use of various ePortfolios systems.

However, here in the UK work is going on in developing good ePortfolio practice - but is not being well published. At ePIC 2011 we want to examine further the work with ePortfolios particularly within the Primary and Secondary phases of education. But we need examples of your good practice.

I have been asked to find teachers willing to present, and attend, in order to have at least 2 sessions (6 speakers) dedicated to primary and secondary education. We can support up to 30 teachers with special discounts (and perhaps your LA/school will support you for CPD). Or your VLE/ePortfolio vendor might offer some sponsorship. (NB July might be an easier time for teachers to get 'time off' for such an important meeting.)

For further information see:

What is happening? How are ePortfolios used in Schools? Can ePortfolios overcome 'Facebook mania'? Are Parents & mentors involved? Where is the CPD? Can ePortfolios support transition? What of Interoperability? These are the questions - only you have the answers! Your involvement is imperative!

If you feel able to answer any of the above questions please offer your contribution here.
Or contact me at

Thursday, 10 March 2011

What does it look like?

Image: Girl staring at a screenI am a member of a BSI (British Standards Institute) SIG working on ePortfolio specifications to include issues of interoperability and much more. On face value, as the Sth.Koreans presented it, the ePortfolio problem is all about interoperability and how far we are off coming to consensus. But, the further we get in discussing the details, the further away we depart from each other. There is no doubt that institutions around the world have all defined their own perceptions of what an ePortfolio is, what its purpose is, who should be using an ePortfolio, compulsory or voluntary, institutionally owned or learner owned, what does it feel like, what does it look like. Many of these issues I attempted to address several years ago. See ‘Who is hijacking our ePortfolios.’

However, one of the outcomes of the BSI SIG was to identify ‘Use Cases’ of which each country, and even institutions within any country had different opinions as to how an ePortfolio should be used. Can I ask you, therefore, if you would respond by completing the following headings as a comment or emailing to

Age Range:
Application: (name of software)
Function: (30 – 100 words)

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Begining with the End

Graphic: Signpost asking 'Which Way?'or for the full title: 'Beginning with the End: Planning for ePortfolio Use' . This is the title of an intriguing post that Julius Mayo made several months ago. Intriguing in that he raises some fundamental questions, but without supplying the answers!

Quite simply, he identifies the need to think through the learning outcomes and advantages of incorporating ePortfolios into his teaching (and, for that matter, their learning).

Obviously, there are important matters to consider in relation to specific learning objectives, what tasks he will expect the students to attempt, what learning strategies they will use, what additional software or devices they might want to use, how he will assess their learning, how will one module lead on to another with some sense of continuity etc.

However, Julius also identifies the need to look further afield and consider what good this new approach will have for the benefit of the students, rather than just 'head knowledge'. And that is the purpose of this post. Before looking at the suggestions I made, perhaps you should try and list what you think are the benefits of 'ePortfolio assisted learning'?

You can see Julius' post and my hurried response here .

Monday, 7 March 2011

Where in the World?

Currently this blog has recorded 11518 readers from 129 countries and 2763 cities. (see bottom rh column). However, I would like to hear from the many silent partners, particularly at this time, on the subject of the age-groups of ePortfolio users. I am attempting to collate a list of 'Use Cases' from around the world which will demonstarte that people of all ages, from Pre-school, through mainstream education, VET, FE, HE and adult education are currently using ePortfolios for a variety of purposes. In particular, I am looking for more examples of the use of ePortfolios in order to support adult learners - or even those who use an ePortfolio system for a Community of Practice, in retirement or Care Homes. If readers can supply me with a link to your ePortfolio examples, or relate in approximately 100 words how you or your organisation use ePortfolios, I would be most grateful. If you want to email me, please use:

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Open Leadership

I have just started to study Charlene Li's book - and am mightily impressed. Not that she addresses education as such nor that she even mentions ePortfolios. However, the sub-title to her book says it all:

"How social technology can transform
the way you lead."

Early on (p8) she says,

"The first step is recognising that you are not in control - your customers, employees, partners are. If you are among the many executives who long for the "good ol' days" when rules and roles were clear, indulge yourself in that kind of thinking for just a few more minutes - then it's time to get to work. This is a fad that will not fade, but will only grow stronger, with or without you."

For teachers wondering about all this 'Open Stuff' and Collaboration etc this book makes a very good read. Every page wants me to pause and think, 'Well how could what she says apply to me and my kids in the classroom?'

On the point of how classrooms have changed and how children are now given more control over their learning see my slideshare, Schools and Change.

What Charlene fails to mention is that teachers have been working towards this for the last 30-40 years (and even before ePortfolios!) I remember asking my class to form groups of 5-6 and, surrounding a large sheet of paper, to brain-storm or collaborate on a project or issue - and even to take away 'two good points and two bad points' from their activity to write up in their own notes.

Earlier on (p5) she identifies three trends that have brought this about this release of control; (1) more people on line, (2) Widespread use of social sites, and (3) the rise of sharing.

Perhaps we should recognise that it is the combination of the three trends above and an evolving expectation amongst teachers that Teaching and Learning MUST change that has brought about the phenomenon of Open Leadership not only in the workplace but also in the classroom. In the context of education, therefore, we can see Charlene Li's three trends as:

1) More people on line: Through many separate avenues including gaming, availability of hand-held devices, Building Schools for the Future, initiatives like Becta's Home Access Programme, governments' Broadband initiatives and the sheer advertising and peer-pressure, it is no wonder that the world-availability culture should pervade schools.

2) Social sites:
or possibly more often repositories that have seen the commercial attraction of being social platforms have enhanced a social contagion which, whether for good or bad, cannot be put back inside Pandora's box.

3) The need to share: is part of our gregarious makeup. Educators of all categories have the opportunity to build upon a ready-made culture in order to exploit collaborative processes in teaching and learning as never before.

Yet again, I see the ePortfolio, and eFolio in particular, as the perfect solution to safely delivering all the aspects of teaching and learning or rather 'Open Teaching and Open Learning' that we may ever have dreamed of.

No longer can education be dominated by 'The Sage on the Stage', but, understanding its Latin root, assessment becomes 'The Guide by the Side', and even, in terms of Lifelong Learning, 'The Friend to the End'.