Blog vs. ePortfolio Consideration

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During the past year, I've had several opportunities to work with faculty on integrating a blog and/or ePortfolio project into their courses. I've also been able to work with their students during a computer lab session to help them get started. Most recently, I worked with the faculty in the elementary education program to encourage the use of blogs within the ePortfolio space within the entire program.

Yesterday I had the great pleasure to work with a wonderful group of students who will be sharing quite a bit of their classwork online this semester. Thanks to a question from one of the students, we all pondered whether the semester-long project was best suited for the blog, which was our initial intent, or a webpage. Because we had been so focused on the blog initiative within the ePortfolio space, we really hadn't considered this alternative solution. The conversation involved the students, the instructor, and me, so the students really had ownership in the final decision which was to create a new page within their ePortfolio rather than doing blog entries.

So, what considerations were taken into account? This assignment really wasn't a reflective activity as much as a reading log, providing information about the children's literature they are reviewing this semester. The instructor has provided the students with a template to use which they can fill in, save, and upload for each assignment, and then link to it from within their webpage. It keeps this specific coursework on a webpage separate from their other coursework, making it easy to point someone directly to it. At the end of the semester, this project will be over, so then it becomes an artifact of their undergraduate education. Perhaps they will want to "clean up" the webpage to preserve only those reading logs that represent their best work, or that best represent their learning during the course of the semester. Perhaps they will only want to preserve their best example from each genre. These pages will be easy to gather for assessment purposes using the tag provided by the instructor.

In reflecting on how I could have missed the need for this conversation, I realized that I was concentrating on learning the tool and hadn't paid attention to the process. In the blog/ePortfolio workshop, the focus has been on the tool and how to use it. We haven't discussed with students or faculty how to look at the ePortfolio holistically and make decisions about its overall design and placement of artifacts. We also haven't discussed specifically how to incorporate students' work into the assessment process, especially those efforts towards accreditation. There's definitely more work to be done! 

I appreciate the work of Dr. Mary Napoli and her EDUC 421 students to help me highlight some considerations for those working with blogs and ePortfolios!

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Nice post Carol. I will be curious to see how you evolve the pedagogical side of using blogs for ePortfolios. One of the great hurdles in learning the tool is that we loose sight of the intent of learning the tool in the first place. As an education major, I would have really liked to have had a blog type of ePortfolio to use when I was student teaching, simply to allow my academic adviser here at UP be able to interact with me more than once during the experience. I think that the real work of using blogs, particularly in education majors, is in making sure that students understand that this is both a working tool for them, and a portfolio of work that can reflect very positively on them and their experience.

Thanks for sharing Carol.

We are starting to look at similar issues here. I had a similar conversation with a few faculty members here. We decided to use blogs if it was and iterative process and pages to highlight finished projects or important material.

I agree with you about spending more time to explore the design and logistics of the material.

Using entries to post specific assignments, iterations, reflections, makes sense. You can pull these together using a category or tag, but as you describe here, Carol, creating a page with links to the specific entries allows the students to place the entries in context and provide a layer of meta-reflection.

There is an experimental feature of blogs@psu that aids in this.

http://blogs.tlt.psu.edu/projects/bloglab/2009/12/outcomes.html

I would be curious to hear if you think this would be useful and what we could do to make it more useful.

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