[ETEC 524] Tech Playtesting Assignment 2: Eportfolio’s

This week our lesson allowed me to take a deep dive into Eportfolio’s. Admittedly, I didn’t know a thing about them outside of hearing at some point in my grad school career, I would need to present one before I could graduate. In my mind (using my context clues and prior knowledge of portfolios – inside and outside of my education, I am a creative), an Eportfolio sounded like a collection of maybe some project work I would have. Little did I know it is much more than that, and can even be more beneficial not just to me, but to my professors, colleagues, and for potential networking as well.

An electronic portfolio, also known as an “Eportfolio” is considered a learning and assessment tool. Eportfolio’s help to facilitate learning and reflection through a student’s own collection of work and awareness of learning strategies and needs. It can provide actual evidence of achievement, creativity, purpose, and reflective thought.

An Eportfolio in its simplest state, is a collection or evidence of work in an electronic format that can showcase all of the things you have learned over a period of time. Eportfolio’s can also be as detailed and informative as to give the viewer an idea of who you are, the purpose of the lessons, as well as your reflections of the work and learning based off of the intended audience. Everything from student work, demonstrations, achievements, and artifacts that have been collected can showcase learning progression in various ways. With an electronic portfolio you can include blogs, pictures, graphics, essays, sound and other forms multimedia to showcase collections of work.

There are three types of Eportfolio’s today, Learning Eportfolio’s, Showcase Eportfolio’s, and Assessment Eportfolio’s. A Showcase Eportfolio is a way to showcase a student’s (and/or a professional’s) academic career highlights. Evidence of courses taken, programs of study, papers written, may be included in these types of portfolios. In Learning Eportfolio’s (more common in educational settings), collections can be shared with other students for feedback because it is built to support the idea of formative feedback as an essential part of the learning process. Students usually demonstrate learning and the learning process by gaining feedback and reflection from their peers going through the same course or involved in the same or similar projects. Assessment Eportfolio’s can be used to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of a program or course to see what a student gained and observed. They can also enable faculty to not only observe students knowledge and actions within the learning, but also the student’s own reflection of the work, teaching, and their progression.

E-portfolios are a great way to address both assessment of learning and assessment for learning by documenting and generating learning achievement in a virtual space, completely owned and controlled by the author. In my understanding, the “assessment of learning” is more of a way to understand what a student can do and the assessment for learning is more of a way for the instructor should do or teach in response to that. E-portfolios can effectively and visibly show the extent of deeper learning from a student and/or teacher, as well as the connections between their reflections of the work and experiences in their courses. They can separate the needs of the author and the institutions they are apart of. This is something that cannot be fully addressed through just grades, transcripts, and exam scores. Eportfolio’s can be “lifewide” and promote “lifelong” learning because they can be accessed in multiple contexts throughout a lifetime. Education is not limited just by the time in a classroom which makes access to learning and reflection through an e-portfolio valuable because of its exchange and findability to a broader audience outside of education for as long as the creator of the portfolio wants to show and share.

The differences between a paper/hardcopy portfolio and an electronic portfolio are not hard to see: an Eportfolio can be widely accessed by anybody, anywhere, at any time. It can also be updated and maintained in a virtual setting, which can allow for many ways to be creative and informative using technology tools and design. Eportolio’s also allow for faster feedback and a more controlled and thorough evaluation of work that is designed for a specific outcome. It is for this reason, because of the type of person I am and the way in which I effectively learn, I believe it is more important to have the freedom and the power to articulate what I know and have learned, personally in my experience and learning through my courses about educational technology, than to let someone else (including my professors) judge the logic, accuracy, depth, breadth, and precision of my answer based off of teaching alone.

Future-thinking about how I can begin a lifelong and lifewide Eportfolio for my graduate school experience and then take it beyond that into my career, I focused on playtesting various creation and hosting sites to get started. Of the available sites, I focused on WordPress, Wix, Google Site, and Adobe Portfolio. I compared and contrasted by each platform’s ease of use, shareability, permanence, and features such as design templates, learning pathways, and multimedia tools. I noticed that each of these sites have plenty of similarities but the differences come from the specific design needs of the user. I’m looking to get a premium site to host my Eportfolio, so I want something that will give me as much control as possible to showcase my work in various formats and in creative ways using multimedia design, videos, photos, sound, and blogging.

These wants lead me to narrow down to my two favorite platforms currently: WordPress and Wix. I’ve used these sites this week, exploring their functionality and features. Both sites have a DIY platform with low maintenance and easy modifications. They both come with preset templates that are able to house photo and video galleries, blogs, subscriber and social media links and capabilities, as well as many other widgets, quickly, effectively, and without coding. Using one of these platforms for my lifelong Eportfolio (I’m leaning towards WordPress), would certainly be worthwhile if it kept my stress down to a minimum by providing me the relief of reliable design and sharing. Right now I’m finding it hard to choose between the two because I like them both equally. The ease of design modifications and multimedia features, as well as the mobile blogging and access features are perfect for what I want. Even though I know I don’t have too much, (if any) time to decide before I begin the first steps to creating my Eportfolio, I think I’m going to take a few more days to do more research and play with the free versions more to compare which would be more effective for me, who I am, and how I would like to convey the lessons I have learned and am learning.

[ETEC 524] Tech Playtesting Assignment 1: Blogs

A blog (or otherwise known as a “weblog”) is an online journal where a writer or a group of writers can share their views, content, or ideas on various subjects and make available for virtual reading and sharing. Blogging connects you to a relevant audience and give a platform for thought and lists entries in reverse chronological order.

 I have blogged for many years personally to sort through ideas, experiences, feelings and emotions on things happening in my life, and more recently, I have dabbled in blogging professionally in the Educational field to keep students and their parents updated about college and career readiness, FAFSA, and events and information from our programs success with our cohorts. Additionally, we encourage blogging from our students to understand more of how they think and feel about the material and experiences presented to them. Blogs fit the purpose of opening communications for students to share their thoughts.

Most blogs focus on a specific topic, while some are more to link to other sites and services. Personal thoughts and journaling through blogging is important and can be used in the pedagogical stance to facilitate learning through reading, writing, reflecting, and sharing thoughts and ideas in a digital environment. Blogs can evaluate a student’s contributions through analyzing and evaluating what they think about what they learned or didn’t learn, as well as showcase their creativity in design through how they design and set up their blogs.

Some of the blogs I have play-tested and ultimately used have been WordPress (www.wordpress.org), Tumblr (www.tumblr.com), and Wix (www.wix.com) blogs.

Each of these blogs are open source software and fully multimedia functional and collaborative and so much fun to play around with and design. The real differences between these blog sites are their usability, pricing, and flexibility.

WordPress, my choice to blog on and also known as “the world’s most popular site builder”, powers more than 33% of all websites on the internet. It has its own hosting site (found at www.wordpress.com), and is a very powerful content management system which can build websites and blogs. WordPress supports blogs, business websites, online stores, online courses, membership sites, and even online marketplaces. I was able to create a new blog site in under 10 minutes that gave me the capability to immediately create content, design, and incorporate add-ons out the gate. WordPress uses a simple WYSIWYG editor that comes in two different forms, one for plain text where you can add formatting though HTML coding, and one visual editor.

What I like about WordPress and pretty much any blog, is the managing design and appearances. WordPress uses “theme” templates that are premade and customizable for blogs and websites. Unlike Wix, WordPress does not have a drag and drop content editor that is customizable as you write it, but it does similarly have a drag and drop page builder capability if desired. Colors. Layout combinations, logos, portfolios, and social media synchronization are all capable. I feel like I am able to show my creativity, personality, and the purpose of my blog the more designing, content and availability to engage I’m able to give to it. The more I blog to support learning and provide information, I have incorporated more media content in my posts (music, pictures, video, memes, graphics, flyers, etc.) to help keep the reader’s attention and give them easier ways to link and share to social media sites, email, and other blogs.

Whether its using WordPress, Wix, Tumblr, or any other blogging site or capability, blogging can be not only engaging and educational, but also therapeutic. Blogging can teach students and has taught me how to communicate information more effectively to diverse audiences and develop better writing and presentation skills. However, like most outlets for creativity and free thinking, blogging can contribute to some potentially negative and abusive behavior such as trolling, the deliberate act of making random unsolicited and/or controversial comments intended to instigate conflict, hostility, or arguments online. I believe that part of the pedagogical learning of blogging involves helping to developing students ability to handle negative interactions and unexpected interruptions and supporting them through their words and thoughts.

Even with these potential issues, blogging is beneficial in that it increasingly promotes participation and the collaboration of knowledge and thought. Blogs create a space for interactive exchange and strategy. Blogs also greatly encourage reading and writing and responding around focuses and reflections. The more we encourage blogging and the use of blogs, we contribute to the growth of creators, writers, and challenging thinking.