Saturday, September 17, 2005

ePortfolios. I don't get it!

There's been a steady stream of talk around the idea of ePortfolios. I've been watching, interested in how the name alone is a good way to get people who are opposed to blogging, interested in what amounts to ... blogging! Amazing what a word can do.

I know, I hear the chorus "ePortfolios are more than blogging", but I'd like to sing my version of that: "blogging is more than ePortfolios!"

I just can't understand the persistent drive by so many in education to replicate the tools and opportunities that are already freely available on the open network. They'll bust a gut getting their IT support crew willing to get another server, bash their heads getting permission to install a system that will enable something like an ePortfolio, offer it up for teacher and/or student use, ignore the questions about student IP and life long holding of content (beyond the enrolled period), talk themselves into believing the system they have set up is a useful thing for staff and students, get thousands of dollars worth of PD training rolled out, run workshops for years on the use of their unpopular system, and 3 - 5 years later die in a ditch protecting it against new innovations that threaten it. Does the LMS ring any bells here?

The Internet (especially the web2 variety) has always been there, offering up a suite of tools for us to use, now, in the past, in the future, always. All we needed to do was spend a little time with it (out in the real world) understanding how it all worked, and come up with innovative uses for it in education. But instead we have spent millions trying to remodel the Internet into our classroom comfort zone, developing systems on a proprietary model, ignoring the opportunities to offer education to all, ignoring more serious issues like the local and global digital divide... We just don't need to be doing it any more! Think of all the places those millions could have been better spent! If only we had of realised. Will we ever?

The Internet is my (and millions of other's) ePortfolio! I don't need a SharePoint, digital rights manager, learning object repository, learning management system! Put a Google search in for my name (or I might us an alias if I'm scared of that), check my blogs if you need some insight to that result, check my wikiCV for links to everything I want in my portfolio, check my OurMedia user name for stuff I've made, call me on Skype if you want to interview me, you know the list goes go on. There are already so many options available for us to create and use ePortfolios, why would we even consider using a school-folder-like ePortfolio system? Its like having to wear the school jacket for the school photo, just to make the school look good! Are we teachers asking people to do that again? We really have to get over it!

The open network offers teachers a chance to make school learning relevant to the real world, and thus engaging and useful to students. Let's not spend another cent trying to replicate that opportunity into the limitations of an e-classroom mentality. Instead, lets spend what money we have left deconstructing and exiting this model - teaching teachers how to use the real world open network, how to achieve the safety and security they need with their students, how to join, create and exploit networks around the world, and how to embrace, recognise and assess the real folios of their students... not another cent on that old classroom, school uniform model!


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5 comments:

D'Arcy said...

Leigh, great point. People are talking about "ePortfolios" like they are some magic new thing... If anything, an ePortfolio is just best practice guidelines to make it useful.

Leigh Blackall said...

Bit like your (et al) Small things loosely joined guidelines. I wanna make a short movie for virally marketing that concept. Just how easy it is to set up a strong internet presence and identity using free online services... bit like that weblogs in ed short movie that went around about 10 months ago... (lost the link - anyone?) I think a movie, or series of movies would do alot for improving the uptake of the open network in education...
Any movie makers out there? I guess I'm one... any money out there?

Sean said...

Are you talking about Will Richardson's "Weblogs in Education" video - http://www.weblogg-ed.com/weblogs_in_ed_video?

Leigh Blackall said...

You legend Sean!! That's the one :)

nswtox said...

Whilst in the middle of a Free & Open Source Software workshop I found this article which is spot on with issues raised in today's workshop. Great points.