Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Is anybody out there? there? there? PLE-ase

Derek Wenmoth points to a new Podcast being put out by Graham Attwell with an episode on the Personal Learning Environment (PLE) thinking about whether they are even needed. Basically Graham is restating what has already been said to death here on many occasions.

I was beginning to think no one was out there on this one. I mean I have really shouted out before about LMS, ePortfolios and PLEs, and how I think they are a great waste of time! Google search on my name and you'll see its what I stand for, like it or not. - but I don't get the feedback, or any sign that any one's listening... apart from a Google search result... but enough of that winging guff, perhaps I should be happy that this podcast is enough, perhaps I should reflect on the way I say things and that being a possible reason I don't get come backs. Perhaps the fact that Derek has taken notice of it is enough of an indication that the word is spreading.


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11 comments:

Grahm Wegner said...

Leigh, I know the last thing you'd want is the sound of the "echo chamber" even though you might think your shout outs don't even get the echo back! However, I do wonder if your objections to e-portfolios is more to do with the term more than what they could be. My first grappling with the concept came from your post ePortfolios. I don't get it! and all of the points you make in there are really valid. However, I think that it is ironic that your wiki and your blog are a perfect example of an e-Portfolio that is "small pieces, loosely joined" when the vibe from your posts is in the "why bother" vein. I've applied for a ICT research grant from my education department that is based around what a Web 2.0 e-Portfolio might look like. Now, you mightn't like the term "e-Portfolio" and that's fine (Bill Kerr, who is one of my must read bloggers, believes the phrase is pretentious) but I think to get other people understanding the power of putting yourself and your best work online for others to learn from and access, then using a common term helps people to get an initial grip. I think your objections mainly stem from the keep it all in one spot, locked away under password, present only your best bits, preformatted approach which is the favoured format from those high up in the education halls of power who would desire uniformity from their employees. But your practice, as showcased in your wiki shows that a vibrant, evolving personalised professional online presence is something worth developing and maintaining. Is calling it an e-Portfolio such a bad thing? When I sat there last year listening to Dr. Helen Barrett (e-Portfolio guru) describe her vision of this concept, she did take the time to show the assembled group many incarnations using many tools so that they would remember to seek out and design personalised approaches. However, I kept imagining your free range approach using free Web 2.0 tools and sites throughout the conference and how could I do it if I had the time (the grant would give me some of that!) So, is the whole e-Portfolio idea a waste of time really or is it the approaches that are touted by the "experts" or people sensing a proprietary opportunity that is the true waste of time?
BTW, Tony Forster, who's commented on my blog a few times, calls his students' compilations "blogfolios". Another point that is worth raising is that Dr. Helen Barrett maintains that all good e-Portfoilios should have a blog component. However, I disagree with her stance that the blog is for reflection only - we all know blogging is way more powerful than that.

Downes said...

I hear you.

Let me add that a lot of the time you have to take it on faith that people are hearing you. People talk to each other, and not necessarily back to you.

Leigh Blackall said...

Hey Graham, good point... and it is the name I hate - ePortfolio.. I agree with Bill, its pretentious and doesn't help the problem of when academics hear the word blog, they hear a word that sounds like poo, or a wet towel on a line, or a chocolate bar.. they don't hear a word that sounds academically minded... perhaps the word blogfolio achieves what you are aiming for G, a compromise that helps to bring resistance over. But in the end, I want the "free range" thinking to be respected and refered to for what it is.. and I think that's more than simply a way of doing things, its a subversive and political gesture that asks significant questions of powerful economic exchanges. "why are we buying that licence? who owns this content? what's our responsibility to the author of that content? is the classroom a good way to learn? etc.

Steven, I tuned in to your voice relatively late in all this. But when I found it I quickly saw that you where the source for many of the things I was hearing from others. So you are right. Added to this is perhaps my use of Blogger, which doesn't really support conversations too well does it...

alexanderhayes said...

Actually Leigh.... your use of blogger does support conversations as you spread them far and wide anyway.

"...I hate - ePortfolio.......its pretentious and doesn't help the problem of when academics hear the word blog, they hear a word that sounds like poo, or a wet towel on a line, or a chocolate bar.. they don't hear a word that sounds academically minded........"

Damn thats fine !

Sums it up for me here in Sydney. Blog ? Chocolate log ? * stupid look *

Thats one of the funniest replies or explanations of what academics think of the word blog I've heard in a while. I've added it to my list of quotable quotes for 2006 and with your permission request it's use in my address to the nation's networks Induction forum in Canberra next week.

Everyone hears you Leigh - you are frustrated, angry at times but we all hear you. As Steven states people do talk to each other not necessarily back to you.

We are all battling red-tape-dispensers, arcadian pyschotropic coffee morning-meetings-which-get-nowhere, PLE's, PLC's , LMS's, OLE's , CMS's, ins/outs, blank looks and faithless moronic back-handers.

E-portfolios,blogfolios and the conversation resultant is no more than stammering for the correct nomenclature in a crowded parlour of blogger poo-dom and we all know it.

Ask any 15 - 36 year old bedoper what an e-portfolio is and you will get an interesting answer . no ....you cant take it to the mosh pit in fact try and find it when you've finished your course !!

Ask any cardie' the same question and you'll realise that the 'e' in e-portfolio is like the 'm' in m-learning.

Put there to secure funding, to entertain acronyms, to joust with the 'free rangers'.

Put them together and what do you get ? You can just hear it in five years time when Dr. H.B gets questioned from the floor.......'e'm'........ Whats a blog-folio?

Regards,

Alex Hayes

Leigh Blackall said...

Sure Alex, go right ahead. But part of the inspiration for that comment comes from the great image created by Jude Cooke and Michael Nlson up there in the Blue Mountains for the Blended Learning wiki.

The wet towel bit was one of the most recent comments I've heard... really! some academics ought to be ashamed of themselves!

Graham Wegner said...

Alex, I'm sorry but some of your sophisicated language had me clicking on dictionary.com - what is a bedoper? If e-Portfolio is only a word, what's the big deal? I must be missing something (highly likely, I'm just a primary school teacher) but how is the term "e-Portfolio" any worse than any other buzz phrase or common usage word in education today? I can't see why the term can't be defined by Web 2.0 technology users / educators at the grassroots - in fact, it would be better than just leaving it to be defined by those high up on the education food chain. We could (edubloggers in general) define what an e-Portfolio is, provide the links to the world to concrete examples so that someone like Leigh could be saying, "This is what an e-Portfolio looks like in the connected world and here's mine as an outstanding example." So, in five years time, if you Googled the word e-Portfolio or went to Wikipedia, anyone could see how the functions and elements of a professional portfolio can live, evolve and be accessible in an online environment through the many well developed examples that could be in exitence by then. Just don't shoot down the idea before it has even the chance to grow its own wings.

Leigh Blackall said...

G, I think you're right, but I think ePortfolio is still more than a word. I think you're right if all we are talking about is a portfolio in the digitally networked world - but as you alluded to in your first comment, it is a word that panders to old schoolers, managers and academia who refuse to acknowledge the digitally networked world in the terms that are current. This provides charlatans with the opportunity to sell false things like ePortfolio software and servers, which in turn leads teachers into yet another false reality, which leads our kids into schizophrenic learning... out there is the way things are really done - in here is the way we do things in school.

A portfolio is a portfolio, and it doesn't need the "e" in it, just as learning never needed an "e" in front of it. The "e" is meaningless, but if we feel that we still need to make a distinction between the portfolio that comes with plastic sleeves and you carry with you to job interviews, and the one that is digital and internationally networked - then let's call it exactly what it is... suggestions:

Online portfolio
Online professional identity
digitally networked portfolio
Blog
WebLog

alexanderhayes said...

Graham Wegner said...
Alex, I'm sorry but some of your sophisicated language had me clicking on dictionary.com - what is a bedoper?

Alex Hayes said.....
http://hiptop.bedope.com/

Graham Wegner said...
I must be missing something (highly likely, I'm just a primary school teacher)

Alex Hayes said.....
No. You havent missed anything. In fact your a mile ahead of the pack. I'm a trained primary school teacher and my second lot of students were 4 - 6 year olds - the current generation bedopers.

Graham Wegner said...
How is the term "e-Portfolio" any worse than any other buzz phrase or common usage word in education today?

Alex Hayes said.....
It's not any worse than any other buzz word flying around at the moment. As Leigh and others are trying to ellucidate....e-portfolio poorly defines the contemporary ICT and does little to acknowledge that content is not king. Very few education environments provide students with portability - the very essence of what the term e-portfolios set out to do in the first place. Everything is in a state of flux and the nomenclature assigned action rarely befits whats 'in-play' on the real stage of learning in my opinion.

Graham Wegner said...
We could (edubloggers in general) define what an e-Portfolio is, provide the links to the world to concrete examples so that someone like Leigh could be saying, "This is what an e-Portfolio looks like in the connected world and here's mine as an outstanding example."

Alex Hayes said.....
I believe Leigh has demonstrated that repeatedly. My own partner last night commented that edu-bloggers would be better heard without all the jargon attached to their ideas. That would spoil the fun wouldnt it? We are at the forefront of building 'e-portfolios' as part of the global citizen intranet....www.

Graham Wegner said...
So, in five years time, if you Googled the word e-Portfolio or went to Wikipedia.....

Alex Hayes said.....
No disrespect to you or either service but I'm hoping we (educators) have evolved past them in five years time.

Graham Wegner said...
Just don't shoot down the idea before it has even the chance to grow its own wings.

Alex Hayes said.....
There are a billion good ideas flying around out there and in here. The only ones that have global resonance are those that hit the ground running. Realising that the key elements of professional portfolios are imbedded in the individuals ability to demonstrate and action social change, realise social dividends, connect others to knowledge and weather the organisational-flack-attack are in my opinion the portfolio we should be carrying around with us ....so to speak. I rarely shoot things down cause'my eye sights failing anyway from too much Halo.

Leigh Blackall said...

Too much Halo LOL!! Boy I know that feeling! Never could get better than my 12 year old bro in law :(

Graham Wegner said...

Thanks, Leigh and Alex for clarifying your points of view and helping me to understand where you are coming from. Yes, I do agree that in 5 years time we will be well past Google and Wikipedia but I fear most educators still won't be much wiser than they are right now about the online connected world. As I read and attempted to respond last night, it did strike me that unlike a blog or a wiki which is basically a multipurpose tool that can used in many ways, an e-portfolio is only a concept or idea that isn't easily defined. We edubloggers might choose to use our blogs for learning and interacting (this comments conversation is a great example of a higher purpose use of a blog where I'll learn something from all of the other commenters and you learn something about what I think as well, for what it's worth) but a blog could be used in other ways - a newsletter, an organisational website, an online diary (shudder) but it is still just a tool. Its higher use is defined by its owner. An e-Porfolio as a concept, can be hijacked by "experts" who impose their own definition because it isn't a definite online application. However, here in South Australia, I really think that educators are only just starting to look at "e-porfolios" as a concept and the interested group (of which I am a member) are still talking ideas and proprietary software models have not been adopted as part of this discussion. I suppose that’s why the obligatory overseas expert was invited in to be the shining light at the conference I attended in 2005. In my own na├»ve way, I suppose I don’t hear the negative connotations in the word “e-Portfolio” that you two obviously do. But now I understand a heck of a lot more about why you guys do! Thanks for indulging me in this exchange of ideas – I am slowly broadening my narrow educational viewpoint. I really appreciate all that has been said.

Leigh Blackall said...

Hi Graham,
Your latest comment is so humble G! Makes me worry that Alex and I have been too agressive with you.
I really appreciate you taking me up on this issue, as it has helped me to see that for some, ePortfolio is simply a conceptual use of web2 technologies - which I think is totally OK. My previous experience with the term however has been at the hands of horrid academics who on the one hand dismiss blogs and wikis, while on the other embrace ePortfolios - because they paid for a special ePortfolio software... So, I think we have hammered out an understanding. My only hope is that those newbie teachers you're working with, will be lead to appreciate blogs and wikis etc as elements that make up an ePortfolio - not that an ePortfolio is something different. Through our communications I can see that that is exactly what you'll be doing.