I had a complete change of mind about my approach to blogs and eportfolios since last week. To be honest, I’ve been struggling with all the available options and tools out there. It’s overwhelming and there is no “right” answer or approach. Last week as I was playing around with the different tools and trying to determine just how exactly I would use these tools in both an educational setting, i.e., my classroom, and a professional setting, i.e., my own self-marketing and learning.
This week’s assignment provided me with some more time to experiment with other tools, which sometimes led me back to reevaluating the tools I looked at last week, but with a clearer focus on how I would use each tool.
In addition, I came across two interesting website/blogs that helped me put all of these different electronic blogs and eportfolio tools into some perspective. The first one was Dr. Helen Barrett’s website, http://electronicportfolios.com/. Dr. Barrett has made an academic career out of studying and evaluating the role and the evolving technology of eportfolios. Among her many publications, I came across one that listed different tools, which had categorized them according to function. While her list was not definitive, it did help me to understand the different functions of the tools I was investigating.
Another website I discovered, a blog posting by Karen Barnstable (https://kbarnstable.wordpress.com/2010/01/08/41-benefits-of-an-eportfolio/), which outlined in a very simple format the many uses and benefits of eportfolios. Much of what she explained was echoed in the readings from this week.
And, so after this week’s play tech, below I’ve listed some changes in my approach and the affordances of each technology.
- Moving my blog to WordPress. Last week I had chosen EduBlogs to host my blog, however after some reflection and a realization that to use EduBlogs I’d have to pay a fee, I’ve come to see that WordPress offers much in the way of flexibility, ease of use and, maybe best of all, it’s free. Link to new blog: https://teacherlaurieblog.wordpress.com/.
- For my professional eportfolio I will use WordPress as well. As part of my student teaching requirement through EDCI 515, I am also required to create an eportfolio. The content I’ve created on my eportfolio is partially there for that requirement as well. I’m excited to play with that format and to organize my professional teaching work on that site. Link to professional eportfolio: https://teacherlaurieg.wordpress.com/.
- For educational purposes, my future classroom, I’m now leaning toward WikiSpaces, https://lauriegustafson.wikispaces.com/. WikiSpaces has many functions, including:
- Collaborative writing–track writing, provide feedback and monitor progress.
- Social network–a safe, closed social networking newsfeed.
- Organize class and projects–students can work individually or in groups on class projects.
- Monitor progress–WikiSpaces has tools to help you monitor student engagement and use of the classroom site.
WikiSpaces is not an eportfolio for students per se, but it seems to be a practical, easy-to-use tool to manage a class online. If I were to add an eportfolio element to this, I’d use WordPress to display student work. Because I’m working with middle schoolers in an urban school district with limited access to technology, I imagine it more useful for me to post examples of student work than to ask students to put together their own eportfolios. I could see a way to get around this by having students self-reflect on work, then posting them, with their permission to a class website. We could use it at an open house or other forum as a way to publicly demonstrate their work.
However, if access was not an issue, I’d really like to use eportfolios as a way for students to reflect on their own work and display their learning over time (a school year). Just as I know I’ll gain a tremendous amount from putting together my own professional eportfolio, students would get an opportunity to extend their demonstration of learning beyond testing and assessment.
Other tools I explored
As I mentioned above, for me WordPress seems to offer the most flexibility, especially for the price. And, it’s ease of use makes it my number one choice for both blogging and eportfolio.
Wix is an easy platform for blogging and creating an eportfolio. The tools are drag and drop with some really cool templates. This would be a favorite of mine, however there’s a monthly subscription fee for sites over a certain size. This is a deal breaker for me as I don’t know how actively I’d use it so wouldn’t want to be tied and limited to a subscription-based website.
Google Sites is another platform I played with this week. I did not see many affordances with this technology other than it is free and easy to get started. However, because it was so difficult to set up and edit, I would not recommend it.
I also looked at Foliotek, which has an easy to use platform and a free option, which you can store up to 50MB for free. I’d seriously consider this technology for my professional eportfolio as well. Here’s what I set up in about 10 minutes: http://www.foliotek.me/87jl0qjyi.