Monday, April 29, 2013

Digital Portfolio Journey - A story of change in an online world

 Sharing my passion and involvement with digital portfolios across 10+ years

In 2002, as part of my Masters degree in Educational Technology Leadership at the George Washington University, I completed a subject called 'Digital Portfolios'. There was no going back! I was totally engaged and driven to create and maintain an online portfolio. I was also totally driven to share my knowledge with others. 

My first digital portfolio was created using Dreamweaver - yes, can you believe it...there was no access to Web 2.0 tools back then. So, I did my apprenticeship with HTML and tools where you had to start from nothing. EVERYTHING had to be built from the ground up. In many ways this gave incredible freedom, and of course this can be done the same today - but not many of us bother anymore when templates and other site genreation tools are so easy to use!

This first digital portfolio was housed on a server in Perth (of all places) and I bought the domain name ''. I maintained the portfolio and domain until about 2007. I was delighted to find it all intact via the WayBackMachine, which is a tool available through Viewing my old portfolio again I am amused at the design (green and red?), the navigation (I think I did a good job here!) and effects (yeah! rollovers were so cool in those days! - go to the site to see what I mean), and the general 'clunkiness' of the site. However, I still love the theme I developed with the metaphor of 'the four parts of the body'. I explain this on the 'About this portfolio' page. 

Here is the essential outline of the metaphor I used:
  • Thinking: This is representing the areas that have required more cognitive input such as my portfolio rationale, educational philosophy statement and artifact reflections.
  • Being: This is purely the section where I get to the 'heart' of the matter with an outline of my interests and family.
  • Reaching Out: This section shows the work I do along with other people such as teachers, colleagues, parents, students. It is aimed at showing my contributions to education in and out of the classroom.
  • Making Tracks: Finally, where I have been and a hint at where I want to go. My education and experience are outlined as well as professional development participation.
I also like the fact I put time and effort into creating a hyperlinked 'Site Map' of the portfolio, thinking that this is a skill/practice we should continue to emphasise with students.

In about 2007 I let this original portfolio drop in favour of my NEW portfolio platform  -Wikispaces! Yes, I loved and still love as a platform for sharing content, and of course for collaborative work. So my next portfolio took advantage of the ease of creation using a wiki platform. I also used PB Wiki to share presentations and workshop spread my content across two platforms. This wiki portfolio has not been updated since May 2012 - the same month I made a decision to rebrand myself as I moved from being in a school and in a classroom to consultancy.

 My most recent digital portfolio is also my company and my latest branding, Learning Confluence. It is an attempt to share my professional activity in an organised and visual/multimedia enhanced way so that colleagues and prospective employers can easily see what I am able to do and what I have done. This portfolio uses Wordpress as a platform, and I have a new domain name and new server hosting space.

Challenges with portfolio development over the years:
  • Updating! Looking at Learning Confluence again today it is about 3 months out of date...again. This is an ongoing challenge to focus on updates and 'What's new' sections for regular or current viewers
  • Balancing artifacts with reflections/responses - This is something I always emphasise when sharing portfolio development with others - but may not be something I am so good at myself EXCEPT I have kept a regular blog for many years, and this is the main reflective part of my learning. It is very important though for portfolio development to include critical responses to artifacts in some form
  • Changing platforms and losing work - Yes! Over 10+ years and across 3 platforms there have been some things 'lost', but with WayBackMachine most of the old material is still there. Yeah! I was even delighted to find the PDF file of the Digital Teaching Portfolios course I put together and presented at a major PD event in Kuwait still online! Downloading now and storing in clouds for future reference....I know I probably have this somewhere on a hard drive backup.....
A final word about my Internet archives, c/o WayBackMachine....!

Also around 2003 as part of my course I created my own Learning Management System (LMS) and called it The Hub. I set it up as a sub-domain of The WayBackMachine is showing a lot of what was there - not all - but enough to get the idea that this was an online portal for both teachers and students to learn and interact and share together. I piloted this with my Grade 9 class in Kuwait - had to get parent permission etc - and ran assignments through this, including The Hub discussion forum, using a PhP platform (still a very relevant way to set up forums I think). Anyway, it was an exciting time to be doing this - and of course today, more than 10 years later, with ELGG and other tools we have greater fluidity and mobility and access to multimedia - but we continue to be challenged as to the best way to develop those crucial conversations and interactions and sharing via an online format......

Thanks for sharing this journey with me via this blog post. I encourage you to reflect on their own professional digital portfolio journey and respond to this post with your portfolio history!

This blog post is cross-posted with THINK Global School teachers in Spot.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Global Education Highlights (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Global Education Highlights (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Reviewing a tool for writing support - Grammarly

 The opportunity to review Grammarly came across my desk this morning, so I thought I would share this with you. Disclaimer: I have never been a big fan of tools like but have acknowledged the need for something like that at a certain academic level as a check and balance.

I experimented with Grammarly by copying and pasting from a blog post I wrote recently. You can also upload files.
The results are shown below in the screenshot below. Here are some brief observations:

  • It recognised I stole the text from online, and from my blog - funny it did not find the website where this was originally posted....
  • It has picked up some glaring grammatical errors - and made me cringe at my 'blogging' writing style, thinking I will need to improve this to be able to write in a more academic way more consistently (was that a good sentence??)
Not so good:
  • It is not happy with NETS.A - cannot recognize this format - hence at least one punctuation error listed because of this
  • It is not happy with other capitalised proper nouns or acronyms eg GetIdeas
After sharing words like 'teacherpreneur' and teacherpreneurship' to the dictionary I finally ended up with a 66/100 score, with the comments 'weak, needs revision'. I did get a 'tick' for both writing style and vocabulary use - is that good?

Having this tool available BEFORE submitting work is an excellent support for the learning process. However the learner also needs to learn how to work with the tool to maximise this benefit.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Global Education Highlights (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Leadership for a Global Future

What does leadership for a global future look like? What types of leaders do and will support 'flat' or connected learning that includes local as well as global experiences and collaborations?

In a recent online presentation for the TICAL Leadership Summit, I talked about my vision for leadership in a future that is global. Let me share some of these thoughts here. In many respects this is not a post that has all of the answers - but it does ask many of the questions, and shares these with the encouragement that you, the reader, also ask these questions across your school and with your school administration.

The future of learning is global and 'flat', or you may prefer to think of it as 'connected'. The future of learning is now! We use technology to flatten the classroom walls to bring the outside world in and to open the classroom to the world. Opportunities for discovery, engagement, and more importantly collaboration and co-creation with others not in the same physical space now connects learners across the world and impacts the context in which they learn. An essential recipe to flatten the classroom and go global includes connected learning, citizenship (digital) with a splash of global competency and collaboration (but must include co-creation). What is the essential recipe for school leadership to support this?

The ISTE NETS standards for both school administrators and for technology coaches are a good starting point here, especially with 'Visionary Leadership' as their first standard. Words such as  '..inspire and lead development and implementation of a shared vision...' and ' transformation throughout the organization...' in conjunction with being advocates at all levels for appropriate funding and support. Carefully chosen, powerful words - but how do we make sense of this, and how does this relate to the synergies and relationships within a school or learning community? The NETS.A standards also list Digital Citizenship where leaders should 'model and facilitate understanding of social, ethical and legal issues and responsibilities related to an evolving digital culture', indicating a need for leaders today to have more than an understanding of digital tools but be able to lead and model for effect as well.

 Given learning communities come to a shared vision of what it is they want to be, and where they want to go, how is this vision then implemented? How do we allow students and teachers to find their own voice and take charge of their own learning? How do we promote a culture of sharing and learning? Do leaders have the courage to do this? Is change considered a normal process? Are leaders and schools seduced by the mission of technology and ignore/avoid the deeper learning opportunities?

It is time for a new paradigm for educational leadership. Online learning communities are now leveling the playing field to advantage learners. Leadership therefore must address school revitalization in a digital world, teachers as providers of new forms of leadership in schools and communities, and support for the 'teacherpreneur' needs to emerge.

A teacherpreneur is, 'A teacher who sees an opportunity to make a profitable learning experience for students through the forging of partnerships with other classrooms with common curricular goals and expectations', and 'The teacherpreneur accepts the responsibility and risks for the endeavor and is accountable for the outcome.' (Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds, pg 44). Teacherpreneurs blaze new trails using emerging technologies and connection and collaboration strategies. A teacherpreneur is a champion for change and a realizer of the vision, knows how to use social media and new publication methods to network and share, is a researcher, a networker, an online community builder, innovates from within, and models pedagogical excellence. They have the ability and in fact do exercise new and dynamic leadership in schools, thereby enhancing the possibility of social reform. Leadership by school teacherpreneurs can be described as a 3-step process: 1) The teacher gets an idea for learning, 2) Excitement is fostered amongst other teachers, 3) A group of teachers then come together to do something significant (and probably new) - this can be local and/or global in concept and implementation.

School leaders can foster the teacherpreneur leader by encouraging customization of learning experiences to local standards while being flexible to embrace the world; supporting innovation and encouraging pedagogical excellence; encouraging an agile curriculum; equipping teachers to investigate new global relationships and design solutions. The school leader needs to act as an enabler of teacher leadership and know when to step back. They need to make space for individual innovation and build on achievements to create a culture of success.

The model of Parallel Leadership (A form of distributed leadership researched by Frank Crowther - Developing Teacher Leaders, 2009) is seen as effective in terms of broadening responsibility within a learning community, promoting teacherpreneurship and encouraging diversity. It is also a leadership style that will effectively allow a learning community to look for new pedagogical models to support flat learning in a local and global context. Parallel leadership has three distinctive qualities: mutual trust; shared purpose; and allowance for individual expression. I encourage you to explore this real life example of enlightened and distributed school leadership by Showk Badat, Principal at Essa Academy, UK 

In summary, in order to implement a pedagogy that provides 'flat' connected learning, sustained global experiences, and rich learning outcomes for all stakeholders, we need a certain approach to leadership in education. We need leaders who understand the advantages of connectivism in a global context, who understand how to harness the technology and who understand how to support teacherpreneurs to achieve this.

What the hangout looked like from my end -:

About the Author
Julie is an enthusiastic, global educator, leader and innovator. Originally from Melbourne, Australia, for the past 15 years she also taught and led the use of technology in schools in Zambia, Kuwait, Bangladesh, Qatar, and China. She is now based in Australia as a consultant, presenter and workshop leader and is currently Director of Learning Confluence, Director and co-founder of Flat Classroom® and Global Collaboration Consultant for THINK Global School.
Julie is co-creator of many award winning international wiki-centric projects, including the Flat Classroom® Project. She is also co-founder of the Flat Classroom Conference and Live Events Inc. a non-profit group that facilitates live events for students and educators globally, and co-author of Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds: Move to Global Collaboration One Step at a Time, Pearson 2012.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Global Education Highlights (weekly)

  • Gone Google Story Builder
  • 1-to-1 Learning - Smart Classrooms
    preparing to introduce 1 to 1 programs in schools 1 to 1 learning from the Queensland education department.

  • Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.