ePortfolio conference -final day

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A collection of thoughts and notes from the final day of the ePortfolio conference in Wellington…

Evangeline Stefanakis

Evangeline gave the morning keynote(pictured above) titled Digital Portfolios as a Window into the Learner’s Mind – using themes from her book of the same name. some key messages..

  • we need to be thinking of a socio-cultural framework that moves awayh from the ‘test’ as the primary means of determining ability and achievement
  • need to think of assessment (from French – asseyes-vous) as the act of ‘sitting alongside’ the learner
  • purposes of assessment are to (a)improve student learning, and (b)improve teacher’s teaching. Both require reflection
  • need to understand just what intelligence is- and then seek to explore ways of how we can assess/evaluate/celebrate it. Reference here to Howard Gardner’s definition of intelligence that involves three characteristics:
    1. the ability to solve problems
    2. the ability to find and create problems
    3. the ability to offer a product or service that is valued in at least one culture
  • reference made to “Schools as Sorters” by Paul Chapman in which he reviews 100 years of testing using the Lewis Terman Intelligence testing model

A fascinating speaker – with a great deal of depth of understanding about the nature of learning, learners and the directions we need to be pursuing in terms of personalising learning.

Mark Nichols

Mark also spoke ion the morning providing an excellent backgrounder to the development of Mahara, the NZ developed open source ePortfolio tool. This sparked a lot of discussion throughout the day as delegates debated the usefulness or otherwise of such a tool, and how this might best be integrated into the ‘learning landscape’ of the future.

Donald Clark

Donald is CEO of REANNZ, the organisation responsible for the operation of the KAREN network, and his talk, entitled ePortfolios enabled by KAREN.

Donald referred to the visit to New Zealand in 2003 by Rita Caldwell, the then head of the National Science Foundation in the US. She challenged the NZ government at that time by pointing out that all the countries that NZ works with have an advanced network, and how do we (NZ) expect to work with them in the future without one? According to Donald, this was the catalyst for government action that has led to the establishment (nearly four years later!) of KAREN.

Donald did a pretty good job of explaining why it is that we need to focus on issues of connectivity and interoperability when thinking about individual’s use of the web, suggesting that a federated view of access to existing tools may be a better option than putting our efforts into a single portfolio application.

All in all a very thought provoking conference of a ’boutique’ size. Great to see a good number of delegates from the school sector there, along with the usual suspects from the academic halls of the universities.

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