Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Wiki as an E-portfolio – but it’s so much more than that…

Thanks to Vicki A Davis (@coolcatteacher) for twittering this (student Hope B’s efolio).

I was initially attracted to this as it shows a great example of an e-portfolio developed by a 9th grader. On further viewing I was delighted to see that the e-portfolio was created through simple use of a wiki page. The student had gradually built up the resource through repeatedly adding content to the page. And this is great since wikis, when used in the educational context, are often associated with collaboration. In other words students get together and create a single resource by re editing the wiki page. And obviously this is great.

However what is often overlooked is that a wiki can be used for other purposes, specifically to support independent learning where students are provided with their own space to create a resource.

And that’s what’s happened here. In similar cases I’ve seen students use a wiki as a log of their own activity and as a reflective journal (similar to blogging) but rarely as an e-portfolio. And this is good example.

So the e-portfolio is a single wiki page to which the student has to record particular achievements, citing specific artefacts from their learning journey, (each student is provided with the same template).

Naturally it’s worth visiting an example (here) but let’s have a look at some particular points of interest.

For instance the student has to provide evidence of ‘Applications Proficiency’. In other words they have to produce artefacts which, in their view, represent the best of their efforts in this area. This is split into 3 sections: word processing; presentations and spreadsheets. For word processing they have to relate to their use of Microsoft Word but also Google Docs (the later is increasingly making it’s mark in education). Student ‘Hope B’s’ Word artefact is interesting, revealing their use of other technologies for instance: “We provide lessons for our parents, teachers, and other students on how to be digitally connected... I write about photography, creating a YouTube Channel, and screencasting with Jing.” Similarly the Google Doc artefact records “We used Google Lively (a virtual world – no longer available, AO) to teach children how to act on the internet”.

For presentations they had to create a PowerPoint including the 7 most important things that they had achieved this year. They then had to upload it to Slideshare (it’s like YouTube but for sharing PowerPoint’s) and then embed it on the e-portfolio. For bonus marks they were encouraged to turn the PowerPoint into a slidecast (a PowerPoint with audio).

For ‘Online Proficiency’ the student has to present artefacts relating to blogging (independent learning) and wikis (collaborative working). For the blogs they have to link to their 2 best posts and justify as to why each particular post exemplifies their best work. For the wiki they have to provide evidence of good achievement in using a wiki for two contexts: first for using the wiki to teach a lesson to others and second using a wiki to collaborate internationally on a current trend and event, (called Digiteen).

Finally there’s a video piece for which each student has to summarize a different technology. The video has to include: a brief description of this technology; a sample of how it is used in the classroom and real life and an interview with 1-2 people about how they use the technology. The finished video has to be uploaded to a YouTube channel associated with the project (you can create group based YouTube channels) and then embedded within the e-portfolio.

It’s worth noting that this work is being produced by 9th and 10th grade students (US system - I think equivalent to UK year 11 and year 12). Basically 14 through to 16 years of age. Granted the use of wikis and related technologies and associated teaching strategies are not widespread throughout the secondary school sector but they are gaining a foothold. And, as in this case, are being used in an increasingly sophisticated context in which the technology itself is not the focus but rather the process and outcome of the learning experience it promotes. In this case we have a range of learning experience from personal journey through to community based learning while the use of wiki technology in this context is almost incidental.

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