Connected Community

Blogging in the Classroom is a shared focus for an ICT assignment at the University of Auckland, Faculty of Education.

We split the idea of blogging in the classroom into the following areas of focus;
Laura (myself): E-portfolios
Emma: Integration
Alison: Assessment

Through these areas of focus we have developed an overarching concept whilst working on our individual blogs.
"Through the integration of ICT with curriculum areas and various contexts within the classroom, combined with the ongoing building of portfolios, ICT provides a sound base for assessment to take place in, effectively".

The difficulties with technology

As much as we all love to use technology, as much as we all think technology makes life easier, what do we do when it stops working as it should?

As a part of my job I use a Pocket PC (or a PDA) to document stock in different stores. I rely on my PDA to function. Last Wednesday I had three stores that I had to finish (they were already a week overdue). I happily finished store number one and proceeded to complete store number two. I had been in the store for about 15 minutes when my PDA turned off. Some how it had used all of its battery and had died, so I had to go home and try to explain to my boss what had happened.

This experience is not restricted to my PDA. Just now I was adding photos to my post on Helen Barrett, and hit the publish post button. After looking through her page some more I found another piece of information (on mash-ups) that I wanted to talk about. So I clicked on the edit button (as I have with every other posts, isn't technology wonderful) and some how the picture and everything I had written under it was no longer there. So I added my new information thinking that it would still be there, how could it just disappear?! Yet it is gone, and I can not edit what it there without deleting the new photo and information.

Teachers and students may find the use of computers and respective e-portfolio applications do the same thing, right on crunch time. As a result they could find them selves even more stressed out than if they had kept everything in the clearfile that used to contain all portfolio information.

To counter this, and ensure that stressful moments like this don't occur?

  • Back up all information that is to be put on to the internet. Keep on a word document, or better yet, print out a copy or store it on a pen drive

  • Don't leave things until the last minute! This is always sure to stress everyone out

  • Get help as soon as the problem occurs. Mucking around yourself when you have no idea what you are doing will only make the problem harder for the person who comes to help you later.

  • Step away from the computer, kicking doesn't help! Have a cup of tea and call IT support :)

Helen Barrett

I believe this woman needs her own post because her work is simply amazing (she must really love e-portfolios!).

Helen Barrett is a part of the College of Education at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Over the past few years she has undertaken research into the different tools to use in making an e-portfolio. To date, she had trialled 33 different applications and has evaluated each.

Through this research teachers can look through and decide which application would work best for the children in their class. She even has trialled a New Zealand version Mahara which means 'think' or 'thought' in Te Reo Māori. This link to New Zealand beliefs makes the application very user friendly for New Zealand schools.

Helen also discusses the use of the Google applications in a mash-up and how they can be used to enhance formative assessment.

e-portfolios for assessment

Alison has been talking about the value of blogs for assessment in her blog, but I would like to touch on a few things that I see as being important.

The whole purpose of a portfolio is for assessment. They are a way for teachers to report to parents and caregivers about the achievement of their children. They generally contain the childs best work and can take a lot of time to organise (which is done by the teacher). Portfolios have been around for the last decade or so, but talking to many teachers they complain that they are basically a burden. A lot of work for not a lot of benefit.

This is where I believe e-portfolios come in. The teacher can set them up, but the children can add work that they want to share with their parents, as well as the set portfolio pieces. This way they truly are the children's work and the parents will see exactly what the child sees as important in their education. The parent can also comment on any work they see fit, as can any one else the child wishes to show it to.

The children can get feedback from a variety of sources. This feedback would be immediate and continuous (as the e-portfolio would be used through out their schooling) and therefore the children would get so much more out of the experience.

Feedback from audiences

The flow of information due to the use of blogs as portfolios is two fold. This means that the owner can receive and give information to any of the given audiences. This is done by the posts made by the individual and the comments made about the posts from the various audiences.

The comment function is possibly the most important function of the use of blogs for portfolios because the owner is able to receive feedback from a vast range of audiences, whereas with an 'old' portfolio the comments are restricted to the teacher and the parent (or other caregiver). This means that the owner is more exposed to feedback (and other forms of assessment) and therefore their learning grows. They will also put more effort into the presentation of the work as it will be shown to many more audiences.