ePortfolios in Your Classroom: Results & Analysis

Results & Analysis of the ePortfolio experience of Educators around the world. The ePortfolios in Your Classroom survey contains current information about the actual application and integration of ePortfolios in our Schools.

Thank you all for your time and contributions. Your feedback is greatly appreciated. I hope that this data may help you understand the journey that your fellow practitioners are joining us on. We are all moving in different stages of development and have different circumstances; but I feel strongly that  we are better when we learn together.

You can find the presentation below at DODH ePortfolio Survey Results

Zenification of a Presentation

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In September of this year I was invited to present at the AppsEvents European Summit regarding Google Sites. In fact, I had two presentations: The Basics of Google Sites which I presented with my colleague Jags Myanger and Advanced Google Sites which I presented individually. It was a great honour to be accepted to the conference as a presenter and I was looking forward to the opportunity. I had quite an extensive array of websites on the Google Sites platform which I used to extend the learning from my Grade Five classroom or to support the various sports teams, clubs and activities I coordinate at my my school.

As I was creating all of this content for my students and parents; I felt starved for best practice examples of how to use Sites in an educational context. I wanted to know how to best plan and organize my information so that it would be the most helpful to those trying to access it. I worked and reworked these pages and content leading colleagues from my school who also had curriculum websites. With upwards of 40 pages created on Google Sites I felt confident that I would be the expert that many other could turn to when in need of advice or guidance in this medium. I had embedded my Twitter feed in my site as well as calendars, YouTube playlists galleries and had really focused on turning over the creation of content to the students. That was the big feather in the cap, that students were driving their own learning. I was ready.

Then everything changed. Prior to the summer, I had made two proposals to present at the conference which were approved by my school. My co-presenter and I worked hard to have everything ready before we split for our summer break. Over the summer, Google released a new version of Google Sites rendering most of the work we did useless. Back to the drawing board we went. A silver lining? Time to apply Zen presentation principles to our work. Embedded in this blog post you will find the initial Basics of Google Sites and Advanced Google Sites pitches we made to the Administration of our school and a video which highlights the changes we made to our presentation and how those design features are setup to enhance usability, style and communication of our message. These principles now permeate my work and have become second nature to me when planning information to be shared.

Pitch for Basics of Google Sites

Pitch for Advanced Google Sites

A video highlighting Presentation Zen principles applied to my Google Sites presentations I made at the European Summit:

Remix of an Athletics Site

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To demonstrate my understanding of the principles of Presentation Zen and how they apply to content I have created; I have chosen the rebuild of my Middle School Girls Soccer website. I am the Head Coach of this team and use this site as the primary method of communication with athletes, parents and members of the school community. The website needs to be a place where information is interesting to look at and easily accessible. I must admit that the redesign is greatly aided and abetted by the upgrade Google Sites has recently gone through; but as can be easily seen, the content and style of the site are vastly different.

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Sir Remix-a-Lot: it can be enjoyable to re-envision material using Presentation Zen principles.

In the first site, there is a very different feel to the information. It is much more a recap based medium with pictures from the fixtures, write ups of game action and scores. Design wise, there is a lack of alignment between game action youtube videos of pictures of the athletes. Headlines and titling are inconsistent throughout the site, resulting in a decreased impact of the information. At the bottom of the website, the formatting of the fixture list is unattractive and unorganized. The link to Skills & Development is not noticeable on the left hand side and when a visitor uses the link, the resources on that page are not enticing for further exploration. These design flaws aside, the site was quite popular, as the target audience frequently visited to view the posted content.

Using many of the concepts taught through Presentation Zen the website has been re-envisioned and re-purposed. It it likely that the Google Team themselves were greatly influenced by Garr Reynolds and his teachings when developing the upgrade. The new look Google Sites are cleaner and more streamlined to bring the information to the forefront. Sites are certainly easier to use and I explore these features further in depth in my post Zenification of a Presentation.

Unfortunately, the new MS Girls Soccer Team website is currently a part the whole school revamp of our communication methods and therefore not yet published. In fact, the biggest problem with the new Google Sites is the fact that the sharing permissions have changed and it is possible to either share within our school domain or with the world. In the past it was possible to selectively share the information, limiting the exposure and range of posted content. As the new site is for the school community and not accessible to outsiders, I have taken a short video overview of the site to review the highlights. I am sure there are many applications to other activities in other schools. I hope this helps. Enjoy.

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Fight the Empowerment

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“Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.” ~ Margaret Mead

 

What a powerful image.

When I’m writing a new blog post, the biggest struggle is always to have the idea to get started at first. Of course many aspects of the content become immediately accessible within my mind, but I find it extremely difficult to actually start without a previously determined idea. Usually that focal point comes from one or two sources of an image which I choose to be my header; or I write a title, which then gives the editorial slant I intend to take about a topic. However this time, after watching an inspirational TED Talk about student action Extracurricular empowerment by Scott McLeod; two songs leapt into my mind. A mini battle of the bands ensued for the right to title this post. Since we are talking about  empowerment of students using technology; the word power floated upwards, like the cream to the top of milk. Rage Against the Machine’s 1991 song Take the Power Back not only has power in it’s title, but also contains strong verses about making the content of the curriculum relevant to learners and shaking up archaic educational structures. In the other corner,  Fight the Power, a 1990 track from Public Enemy makes a similarly strong statement about making change and advancing progress. As you can see from the title of my post, remixed title of these songs was the winner. Of course, as I wrote my first paragraph, many other songs containing the word “power” have bubbled to the surface of my consciousness including The Power by Snap! and Powerslave by Iron Maiden. Feel free to add your contributions or suggestions of great “power” songs in the comments below.

Now that the title and beginning of my post has been taken care of; the discussion of  technological empowerment in an education, has one key component to it: how educators can empower students and how students can empower themselves. I am lucky in that my classroom has a variety of technology at the students’ disposal. They have access to visualizers, digital cameras, iPads, Chromebooks and Smartboards and as a result, students are proficient with their application within the classroom. As a teacher, I post information on our class website and Home Learning tasks on our Google Classroom. Students have the ability to self-monitor and direct their own learning once they understand the established protocols. Before fully switching over to a digitized classroom, homework was previously posted on the board and copied into student agendas. Time consuming and apt to important details being missed. Once students had access to technology, often in the form of personal telephones, a quick picture of this list a

The French philosopher Rousseau's du Contrat Social inspired European political reform.

The French philosopher Rousseau’s du Contrat Social caused widespread European political reform.

nd out the door they walked. Now, with my curriculum so digitized, students are already accessing content related to their learning on their commute home. Students are adept at using technology collaboratively for learning purposes.  As students mature, they often choose to be involved in clubs and activities which make a difference in the lives of others. There is a deep engagement in Round Square, Student Council, Model United Nations and Global Issues clubs. Youth are naturally forming their opinions on issues related to their local community, school or personal life.  Students join groups which are often used for discussion and sharing of content whether it be for educational or personal use.  Jean-Jacques Rousseau posed that “Man was basically good”  and from the desire to be good, a social conscience is formed.

In our How We Organize Ourselves inquiry on Fair Play we discover which individuals and organisations have promoted human rights. They look at the actions taken by others to address problems and want to contribute. The outstanding TED Talk by McKenna Pope Want to be an activist? Start with your toys is an excellent example of how youth can leverage positive change. Students connect with local experts and sometimes leaders in their field. One student  pursuing his inquiry had the opportunity to interview the CEO of the National Civil War Museum and have a personalized tour via Hangout. Our Primary Round Square Club uses Google Docs to plan the logistics surrounding the school dance. The Primary Student Representative Council uses To collect feedback about school initiatives  and communicate developments throughout the year. As part of their exhibition action the students participated in a JR Action showing how they can make a difference in their own personal lives. Their final product was filmed with multiple iPads and the final movie edited and published across the school platforms by the students.

McLeod posits that “we must get out of the way and allow them to be amazing”. As an educator we want to create the structures and opportunities to allow our constituents to Achieve your Potential, Pursue your Passion & Fulfil your Responsibility as our School Mission states. Natural curiosity, fused with an interest in action; arises in a collaborative environment. Students want to develop their leadership capabilities and we as Educators always encourage the active pursuit of their goals and dreams.